Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, February 04, 2019

rigmarole

[ rig-muh-rohl ]

noun

an elaborate or complicated procedure: to go through the rigmarole of a formal dinner.

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What is the origin of rigmarole?

Rigmarole, with many variant spellings in the 18th century, is probably a reduction of ragman roll, a long catalog or list, a sense dating from the early 16th century. In Middle English ragmane rolle was a roll or scroll of writing used in a game of chance in which players draw out an item hidden in the roll. This game of chance possibly arose from Ragemon le bon (Rageman the Good), an Anglo-French poem. The sense “confused, incoherent, foolish, or meaningless talk” dates from the 18th century; the sense “elaborate or complicated procedure” dates from the 19th.

how is rigmarole used?

He said he had a shack in Mill City and I would have all the time in the world to write there while we went through the rigmarole of getting the ship.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road, 1957

At the station, I went through the rigmarole of implied consent and told Father Grady I wanted him to take a Breathalyzer test.

Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care, 2009
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Word of the day

Sunday, February 03, 2019

hygge

[ hoog-uh ]

noun

the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having conversations with friends or family, enjoying food, etc.: The holidays are a time of hygge for me and my family.

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What is the origin of hygge?

Hygge is still an unnaturalized word in English. It is a Danish noun meaning “coziness, comfort, conviviality.” Danish hygge comes from Norwegian hygge (also hyggje in Nynorsk), but the Norwegian word doesn’t have the same emotive force as the Danish. The further derivation of the Norwegian forms is uncertain, but they may derive from Old Norse (and Old Icelandic) hyggja “thought, mind, opinion, thoughtfulness, care.” Hygge entered English in the 20th century.

how is hygge used?

Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love.

Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge, 2016

… “The Red Address Book” is just the sort of easy-reading tale that will inspire readers to pull up a comfy chair to the fire, grab a mug of cocoa and a box of tissues and get hygge with it.

Helen Simonson, "Hygge and Kisses," New York Times, January 11, 2019

Word of the day

Saturday, February 02, 2019

prognosticate

[ prog-nos-ti-keyt ]

verb

to forecast or predict (something future) from present indications or signs; prophesy.

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What is the origin of prognosticate?

English prognosticate comes from Medieval Latin prognōsticāt-, the inflectional stem of prognōsticātus “foretold, predicted,” the past participle of prognōsticāre. Prognōsticāre comes from the Greek adjective and noun prognōstikós “prescient, foreknowing; a prognostic, a sign of the future.” It is not common for Latin and Greek to agree so easily in their etymologies, but prognosticate is a good example. The basic meaning of the preposition and prefix prō, pro- in both languages means “forward, forth, in front of” and is akin to English for and forth. The root gnō- in Latin and Greek means “to know” and is akin to English know and Slavic (Polish) znać. Prognosticate entered English in the 15th century.

how is prognosticate used?

Indeed, during the year we are describing, it was known that all those visible signs which prognosticate any particular description of weather, had altogether lost their significance.

William Carleton, The Black Prophet: A Tale of Irish Famine, 1847

January is here, which means it’s time to prognosticate about the new year — and specifically, how we in the Bay Area will be eating over the next 12 months and beyond.

Sarah Fritsche, "How the Bay Area will eat in 2019: Convenience, CBD, and more chicken," San Francisco Chronicle, January 4, 2019

Word of the day

Friday, February 01, 2019

sirenic

[ sahy-ren-ik ]

melodious, tempting, or alluring.

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What is the origin of sirenic?

English Siren (the mythical creature) comes from Greek Seirḗn, which has no reliable etymology. The Sirens first occur in the The Odyssey (book 12); there are only two of them, they are unnamed, and they live on an island yet sit in the middle of a flowery meadow surrounded by the moldering bones of the mortals they have beguiled. What the Sirens tempt Odysseus with is knowledge, irresistible for the curious, restless hero: “We know everything that happened at Troy, what the Argives (Achaeans, Greeks) and Trojans suffered at the will of the gods, and we know everything that happens on the all-nourishing earth.” Homer says nothing about the physical appearance of the Sirens—nothing about birds with the torso and arms of a woman, how many Sirens there were, their names and genealogy, all of which are later additions. The suffix -ic, however, has an excellent etymology: it comes from the Proto-Indo-European adjective suffix -ikos. The Greek form of this suffix is -ik ós, in Latin -icus (-ique in French). English -ic may come from the Greek, Latin, or French forms.

how is sirenic used?

She sang for an hour. I resigned myself to the spell of her voice–not alone to that sirenic power, but to the pleasure of being close beside her.

E. W. Olney, "Mrs. Vanderduynck," The Galaxy, June 1876

Seen in this context, good news of the kind Huffington now seeks to promulgate is a public menace. It’s sirenic, a call to blindness, a “happy” filter placed on a world that is often good but frequently not.

Alexander Nazaryan, "The Bad News About Good News," Newsweek, February 27, 2015

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