Word of the Day

Saturday, November 30, 2019

roman

[ raw-mahn ]

noun

French.

a novel.

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What is the origin of roman?

The noun roman “a novel, a tale of adventure or chivalry” has a complicated history. The English noun comes from Middle French roman (French roman) and referred to a popular work written in the vernacular to be read for pleasure (as opposed to serious legal or scholarly writing, which would be in Latin). Middle French roman comes from Old French romans, romanz, ronmanz (and other spellings) “a popular story in verse or prose written in the vernacular, a Romance language, the Romance languages.” The Old French forms derive from the Medieval Latin adverb Rōmānicē “in the popular language, in Romance” (as opposed to Lātīnē “in Latin”). Rōmānicē itself is a derivative of the Latin adjective Rōmānicus “in the Roman style or manner.” The French noun roman meaning “(a) novel,” was adopted by other Germanic languages during the 17th and 18th centuries. The noun roman entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is roman used?

Red Harvest is often cited as the first hard-boiled American crime novel, but the fact that it might also constitute the first American roman noir draws attention to the close relationship between what we might tentatively call these different subgenres of writing.

Andrew Pepper, "The American roman noir," American Crime Fiction, 2010

Some of the romans, for example, produce the impression of a succession of short stories rather than of one continuous long story with succeeding chapters.

Agnes Rutherford Riddell, Flaubert and Maupassant, 1920
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Friday, November 29, 2019

corybantic

[ kawr-uh-ban-tik, kor- ]

adjective

frenzied; agitated; unrestrained.

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What is the origin of corybantic?

The English adjective corybantic comes from the Greek adjective Korybantikós, a derivative of the noun Korýbās (inflectional stem Korýbant-) “a corybant, a priest of the goddess Cybele in Phrygia (now in west central Turkey),” and in Greek also meaning “drunken person, enthusiast.” Further etymology is risky: apart from Korýbās and its derivatives being non-Greek, not much can be said. Phrygian is an obvious choice, but the Phrygians themselves borrowed a great deal from other peoples of ancient Anatolia (Asian Turkey). Corybantic entered English in the 17th century.

how is corybantic used?

It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but merely create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas.

Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, 1945

There was obviously no enthroned authority here, no bejeweled king to pacify when emotions ran wild, but complete freedom to embrace joy with corybantic abandonment.

Frank Belknap Long, "The Man from Time," Fantastic Universe, March 1954
Thursday, November 28, 2019

foison

[ foi-zuhn ]

noun

Archaic.

abundance; plenty.

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What is the origin of foison?

The English noun foison is archaic in standard English, but it still occurs in Scottish English. Foison is a regular French phonetic development from the Vulgar Latin noun fusiō (inflectional stem fusiōn-), equivalent to the very rare Late Latin fūsiō (stem fūsiōn-) “a pouring out, effusion, melting (in metallurgy),” a derivative of the verb fundere “to pour, pour out, shed.” Foison came into English via Old French; its doublet, the English noun fusion, entered English straight from Latin in the mid-16th century. Foison entered English in the first half of the 14th century.

how is foison used?

Then delicacies and dainties were delivered to the guests, / Fresh food in foison, such freight of full dishes …

, Sir Gaiwan and the Green Knight (c1375), translated by Brian Stone, 1959
… but nature should bring forth / Of its own kind all foison, all abundance, / To feed my innocent people.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1623

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