Word of the Day

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

rodomontade

[ rod-uh-mon-teyd, -tahd, -muhn-, roh-duh- ]

noun

vainglorious boasting or bragging; pretentious, blustering talk.

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What is the origin of rodomontade?

Rodomontade, “vainglorious boasting, bragging,” is also occasionally spelled rhodomontade (as if it were from Greek rhódon “rose”) and rodomontado; it comes from Middle French rodomont, from Italian rodomonte “bully,” from Rodomonte, the name of the courageous but boastful king of Algiers in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso “Roland in Frenzy, Raging Roland,” 1516. Orlando Furioso is a continuation of an earlier Renaissance Italian epic Orlando Innamorato “Roland in Love,” by Matteo Boiardo, one of whose major characters is Rodomonte, also spelled Rodamontre, and popularly interpreted to mean “mountain roller,” from Italian rodare, from Latin rotāre, from rota “wheel,” and Italian monte, from Latin mons (stem mont-) “mount, mountain.” Rodomontade entered English in the late 16th century.

how is rodomontade used?

I am charmed to notice that things that were once said to matter—familiarity with epigrams, knowledge of rhetorical devices and their terrifying names, the ability to display a rich vocabulary without rodomontade—seem to matter still.

Edith Pearlman, "My word, they're immortal!" New York Times, January 8, 2008

because she has amused him with some rodomontade about despising rank and wealth in matters of love and marriage, he flatters himself that she’s devotedly attached to him.

Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, 1848

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

backlins

[ bak-linz ]

adverb

Scot. and North England.

backward; back.

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What is the origin of backlins?

The extremely rare Scottish and northern English dialect adverb backlins, “back, backward,” comes from the equally rare Old English adverb bæcling, used only in the adverbial phrase on bæcling “on the back, behind, backward.” On bæcling, moreover, occurs only in the Rushworth Gospels (ca. 975), in the Northumbrian dialect of Old English—not even in late West Saxon, the standard literary dialect of Old English. Backlins is formed from the noun back, the uncommon adverb suffix –ling, as in middling, and the native English adverb suffix –s, as in always, sometimes.

how is backlins used?

Then backlins we hastened weel pleased wi the day, / Though some of our brithers had wandered away.

Henry Nutter, "A Poem in Scotch," Local Rhymes, 1890

An auld man’s howff’s a tapsalteerie touer: / Time backlins gaes, my warld turns withershins, / Glaur’s in the lift, sterns skeenkle in the stour …

Andrew Tannahill, "Haivers," A Tapsalteerie Touer, 2007

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Monday, August 10, 2020

plaudit

[ plaw-dit ]

noun

Usually plaudits.

an enthusiastic expression of approval: Her portrayal of Juliet won the plaudits of the critics.

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What is the origin of plaudit?

The noun plaudit, “a round of applause; an enthusiastic expression of approval,” first appears in print in English in 1600. It comes from the slightly earlier noun plaudite (pronounced as three syllables and probably pronounced plawditee), which appears in 1567. Plaudite comes straight from Latin plaudite “applaud!”, the second person plural imperative of the verb plaudere “to clap, clap (in approval), pat (on the back), beat (wings).” Roman comic actors would cry plaudite to the audience at the end of a play. Plaudere, which has no reliable etymology, has an alternative form plōdere, as in explōdere, “to drive off the stage (by clapping, hissing, hooting), reject, eject” (the modern sense “to burst violently; blow up” does not exist in Latin).

how is plaudit used?

On Tuesday, Dustin Hoffman and Mila Kunis became the latest A-listers to get plaudits for their recent acts of decency.

Adam Martin, "Celebrity Heroism Is Officially A Trend," The Atlantic, May 8, 2012

The ideologically divided [Supreme] court zigs left or right and earns cheers from the winning partisans. Then it zags in the other direction, and the plaudits turn to brickbats.

Robert Barnes, "Divided court draws plaudits and brickbats, but Kennedy's role remains constant—for now," Washington Post, June 25, 2016

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