Word of the Day

Monday, December 30, 2019

retrospection

[ re-truh-spek-shuhn ]

noun

the action, process, or faculty of looking back on things past.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of retrospection?

Retrospection, and the slightly earlier noun retrospect, are based on retrospect-, past participle stem of New Latin retrōspicere “to look,” based on Latin adverb retrō “backward, back, behind” and specere “to look (at).” Retrospection, then, is the act of looking back, as many do when reflecting at the end of the year. The stem retrospect– may be partly based on (pro)spect, from Latin prōspectus “outlook, view,” composed of prō “before, in front of, for” and the same specere. Latin specere is the ultimate source of many English words involving various senses of “looking”: aspect, circumspect, expect, inspect, introspect, spectacular, and suspect, among many others. Retrospection entered English in the early 1600s.

how is retrospection used?

Every separate day in the year is a gift presented to only one man—the happiest one … and it often happens that he recognizes his day only in retrospection

Vladimir Nabokov, "The Potato Elf," A Russian Beauty and Other Stories, 1973

He was roused from the reverie of retrospection and regret produced by it …

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Sunday, December 29, 2019

gawsy

[ gaw-see ]

adjective

Scot. and North England.

(of people) well-dressed and of cheerful appearance.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of gawsy?

Gawsy is an adjective found in Scottish and Northern English dialect between the early 1700 and 1900s. When describing people, gawsy means “well-dressed and of cheerful appearance,” as in “The gawsy, outgoing couple lit up the room when they arrived at the party.” When describing things, gawsy means “large and handsome,” as in “The festivities were hosted in a glittering, gawsy ballroom.” The origin of gawsy is obscure. The word is perhaps a variant of gaudy “brilliantly or excessively showy,” and may feature the suffix –sy, which can form adjectives that imply that the given quality is an affectation, as seen in artsy or folksy. Gawsy may also be connected to the obsolete verb gawe “to gape, stare” and Scottish adjective gash “shrewd; well-dressed; neat; imposing.”

how is gawsy used?

Mrs M’Vicar … was withal a gawsy and furthy woman, taking great pleasure in hospitality, and every sort of kindliness and discretion.

John Galt, Annals of the Parish, 1821

He comes steppin’ muckle and braw and gawsy up to the door …

S. R. Crockett, The Dark o' the Moon, 1902
Saturday, December 28, 2019

réchauffé

[ French rey-shoh-fey ]

noun

a warmed-up dish of food.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of réchauffé?

Réchauffé is “a warmed-up dish of food,” as made from leftovers. Figuratively, réchauffé can mean “anything old or stale brought into service again,” like a rehashed idea. It comes directly from French réchauffé “reheated.” Réchauffé is the past participle of réchauffer “to warm up, reheat,” composed of r(e)– “again” and échauffer “to overheat.” Échauffer is related to Middle French, Old French chaufer (modern French chauffer) “to warm,” ultimately from Latin cal(e)facere “to make hot,” equivalent to cale– (stem of calēre “to be hot”) and facere “to make.” Middle French chaufer is the source of English chafe “to wear or abrade by rubbing,” originally “to warm, heat.” The historic sense of chafe survives, to return to the culinary realm, in chafing dish, a device that consists of a metal dish with a lamp or heating appliance beneath it, used for cooking food or keeping it hot at the table. Réchauffé entered English at the end of the 1700s.

how is réchauffé used?

Spry hints at the humble origins of the dish, noting that ”Now, more commonly, this dish is a rechauffe”—reheated leftovers ….

Janet Bukovinsky, "Weekend Lunch: The New Formality," New York Times Magazine, October 26, 1986

The most artistic réchauffé will lose its charm if repeated too often …

Arthur Robert Kenny-Herbert, Culinary Jottings, 5th ed., 1885

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.