• Word of the day
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    Tuesday, October 02, 2018

    rewild

    verb [ree-wahyld]
    to return (land) to a more natural state: rewilding an unpopulated island for use as an animal preserve.
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    What is the origin of rewild?

    Rewild combines the word wild with the prefix re-, used to indicate withdrawal or a motion backwards toward another point. Rewild was first recorded in 1980–85.

    How is rewild used?

    "A big effort was made to rewild a huge swath of the Great Plains to its original flora, fauna and animal life," Fallows says. Gary Stoller, "Author of 'Our Towns' Best Seller Finds Ideal Vacation Spots While Seeing America Reinvent Itself," Forbes, August 21, 2018

    I argue that the three r’s of the climate-catastrophe generation – reduce, reuse, recycle – need a serious upgrade. In their place I propose resist, revolt, rewild. Mark Boyle, "My advice after a year without tech: rewild yourself," The Guardian, March 19, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, October 01, 2018

    nugacity

    noun [noo-gas-i-tee, nyoo-]
    triviality; insignificance.
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    What is the origin of nugacity?

    Nugacity is a direct borrowing from the Late Latin noun nūgācitās (stem nūgācitāt-), which first appears in the letters of St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430 a.d.). Nūgācitās means “worthlessness, frivolity” and is a derivative of the Latin adjective nūgāx (stem nūgāc-) “bungling, incompetent,” itself a derivative of the plural noun nūgae “absurdities, nonsense, frivolities, trifles” (its further etymology is unknown). Nugacity entered English in the 16th century.

    How is nugacity used?

    For this play that appears to address itself to a serious intellectual problem has almost nothing to say on the subject, and proceeds to disguise its nugacity by resorting to any number of modish--or, rather, outmoded--strategies. John Simon, "All's Well That Ends 'Good'," New York, October 25, 1982

    Somehow before I leave town I should find a graceful way to assure Jason that when I first met him I had had no inkling of that particular Aggrandizement report ... even if the disclaimer obliges me to reveal the nugacity of my financial wardrobe. Jonathan Bayliss, Gloucesterbook, 1992

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, September 30, 2018

    interloper

    noun [in-ter-loh-per]
    a person who interferes or meddles in the affairs of others.
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    What is the origin of interloper?

    Interloper originally meant “unauthorized trader who trades on his own account and violates the rights or privileges of a trade monopoly.” It also has a tricky etymology. Inter-, its first element, is obviously the Latin preposition and prefix meaning “between, among.” The problem lies mostly with the second element -loper. Some authorities say that -loper is the same as in landloper “wanderer, vagrant,” an English borrowing from Dutch landlooper dating from about 1570. English interloper dates from the end of the 16th century, but a Dutch dictionary (1767) stated that the Dutch word enterlooper, phonetically equivalent to English interloper, is a borrowing from English. It is also difficult to reconcile an English word composed of the Latin prefix with the Dutch noun looper “runner.” It is more likely that -lope (and -loper) is a Middle English dialect variant of leap, ultimately from Old Norse hlaupa “to leap, spring, climb.” Interloper entered English on the late 16th century; the sense of “meddler” dates from the mid-17th century.

    How is interloper used?

    Caruso is a veteran narrator who has voiced audiobooks for the works of Joan Didion, Louisa May Alcott, and Jonathan Safran Foer—but to me, in the moment, she was instead an interloper. What was she doing here? Who was she to intrude on my literary shiva? Arielle Pardes, "Listening Isn't Reading, but Audiobooks Still Resonate," Wired, August 1, 2018

    ... the Lorax is an environmental activist who wastes no time in berating the axe-wielding Once-ler, a shady money-grabbing interloper who lays waste to the environment to produce peculiar knitted outfits called thneeds. Nicola Davis, "Dr Seuss's Lorax 'inspired by orange Kenyan monkeys'," Guardian, July 23, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, September 29, 2018

    diapason

    noun [dahy-uh-pey-zuhn, -suhn]
    Music. a full, rich outpouring of melodious sound.
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    What is the origin of diapason?

    The English noun diapason comes from the Latin noun diapāsōn “musical interval of the octave,” extracted from the Greek phrase dià pāsôn (chordôn) “through all (the notes),” from the full phrase hē dià pāsôn chordôn symphōnía “the concord through all the notes of the scale.” Diapason entered English in the 14th century.

    How is diapason used?

    ... and from the dell below rose in the night, now the monotonous chanting of the frogs, and now, as some great bull-frog took the note, a diapason worthy of a Brescian organ. Stanley J. Weyman, Count Hannibal, 1901

    ... [Harley] concluded a speech which, for popular effect, had never been equalled in that hall, amidst a diapason of cheers that threatened to bring down the rafters. Edward Bulwer Lytton, My Novel; or, Varieties in English Life, 1853

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, September 28, 2018

    applesauce

    noun [ap-uhl-saws]
    Slang. nonsense; bunk.
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    What is the origin of applesauce?

    Applesauce is a straightforward compound noun. The original sense is first recorded in the 17th century. The American slang term first appears in Ring Lardner (1885–1933) and then in the novel Appointment in Samarra (1934) by John O’Hara (1905–70).

    How is applesauce used?

    Nonsense! Fiddlesticks! Baloney! Phoo! Poo! Poppycock! Bah! Twaddle! Don't be silly! My eye! In your hat! That's pure applesauce! Dean Koontz, Life Expectancy, 2004

    The opinion offers several new candidates for a master list of Scalia’s best turns-of-phrase, which should be published as a book as far as we are concerned. One example: the majority’s reasoning? “Pure applesauce,” he wrote. Elise Viebeck, "Scalia on King ruling: 'Pure applesauce'," Washington Post, June 25, 2015

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, September 27, 2018

    gnathonic

    adjective [na-thon-ik]
    sycophantic; fawning.
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    What is the origin of gnathonic?

    The English adjective gnathonic comes from Latin gnathōnicus, an adjective derivative of Gnathō (inflectional stem Gnathōn-), the name of a sycophant and parasite in Eunuchus, a comedy by the Latin playwright Terence (Publius Terentius Afer, c190–c159 b.c.). Terence also coined the derivative plural noun Gnathōnicī “disciples of Gnatho” as a comic general term for sycophants and parasites. Gnathonic entered English in the 17th century.

    How is gnathonic used?

    That Jack's is somewhat of a gnathonic and parasitic soul, or stomach, all Bideford apple-women know ... Charles Kingsley, Westward Ho!, 1855

    ... Pandarus is not unlike familiar gnathonic persons who attach themselves to their betters, as he does both in his defense of Paris ad in his eagerness to satisfy the appetities [sic] of his prince. D. W. Robertson Jr., "The Probable Date and Purpose of Chaucer's Troilus," Medievalia et Humanistica, No. 13, 1985

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, September 26, 2018

    blellum

    noun [blel-uhm]
    Scot. Obsolete. an idle, indiscreet talker.
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    What is the origin of blellum?

    Not only does blellum not have an etymology, it has very few citations. One of which is in the poem Tam o’Shanter (1790) by Robert Burns (1759–96); so it’s a keeper.

    How is blellum used?

    A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum ... Robert Burns, "Tam o' Shanter," The Edinburgh Herald, March 18, 1791

    How was ye to foresee that Mr. Manners was a blellum? Winston Churchill, Richard Carvel, 1899

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