Word of the Day

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

rueful

[ roo-fuhl ]

adjective

feeling, showing, or expressing sorrow, repentance, or regret.

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What is the origin of rueful?

The adjective rueful is easy to define: “full of rue,” but what is rue? The noun rue comes from Middle English reu(e) “pity, someone or something causing sorrow, a disgrace” (herte-reue means “sorrow in one’s heart”). Reu(e) comes from Old English hrēow “sorrow, regret, penitence, repentance,” and is akin to Old Frisian rīowa, Old Dutch rouwe, Dutch rouw, Old High German (h)riuwa, German Reue, all meaning “regret, remorse, repentance.” The noun ruth “pity, compassion; sorrow, grief” comes from Middle English reuth(e) (it has many extravagant spellings), a derivative of the adjective reu(e) plus the suffix –th, which forms nouns of action such as birth, bath, or of state, such as breadth, width. Lastly, the personal name Ruth comes from Hebrew Rūth, possibly a contracted form of rəʿūth “friend(s), female friend(s).” Rueful entered English in the first half of the 13th century.

how is rueful used?

A common refrain from writers on Twitter is that writing is hard. Often, this insight is accompanied by the rueful observation that tweeting is easy.

Katy Waldman, "Is the Internet Making Writing Better?" The New Yorker, July 26, 2019

He stood for a moment with his hands held down and a rueful face, staring out over the waste that defied him.

H. G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon, 1901

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

paczki

[ pawnch-kee ]

noun

a traditional Polish doughnut, filled with jam or another sweet filling and covered with powdered sugar or icing.

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What is the origin of paczki?

The presence of cz in a word is enough to make one suspect we are dealing with Polish. Paczki, thus spelled, in Polish is the plural of the feminine noun paczka “package, parcel.” The Polish word we want, however, is pączki (the ą is a nasal vowel, pronounced approximately as in French on). Pączki is the plural of the masculine noun pączek “bud (as of a flower),” and also “jelly doughnut,” a diminutive of the noun pąk “bud (of a flower).” So while pączki with the ogonek is the more accurate spelling, paczki without the diacritic is more prevalent in English. The tasty treat it refers to is a celebrated indulgence for some the day before Ash Wednesday, known in some circles as Paczki Tuesday.

how is paczki used?

They are rich, jelly doughnuts that have traditionally been a Fat Tuesday treat. Customers line up at Polish bakeries to get boxes of paczki, which they share with their families and friends.

Micheline Maynard, "As Fat Tuesday Approaches, Paczki Are Becoming A Midwest Mania," Forbes, February 23, 2020

Every year, he’d come through the Capitol carrying a box of paczki—the Polish filled donuts—reminding his friends of the pride he had in his immigrant roots.

Steny Hoyer, "My Friend, John Dingell," The Atlantic, February 8, 2019

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Monday, February 15, 2021

proclamation

[ prok-luh-mey-shuhn ]

noun

a public and official announcement.

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What is the origin of proclamation?

Proclamation, “an official public announcement,” comes via Middle English proclamacioun from Anglo-French and Middle French proclamacion “public announcement,” from Latin prōclāmātiō (inflectional stem prōclāmātiōn-) “outcry, shout,” a derivative of the verb prōclāmāre, a compound of the prefix pro– and the simple verb clāmāre “to shout, shout out, utter a loud noise.” The prefix pro-, usually meaning “before, forward,” when used with verbs of utterance, such as prōclāmāre and prōloquī “to speak forth, announce,” adds the notion of bringing into the open or making public. Latin prōclāmātiō has no official or administrative senses, only a legal or quasi-judicial sense, “an assertion of a claim (as of for free status) before a judge or court,” a meaning that occurs in the commentaries and legal opinions of Roman jurists of the 3rd century a.d. Proclamation entered English in the first half of the 14th century.

how is proclamation used?

President Lincoln’s proclamation, which we publish this morning, marks an era in the history, not only of this war, but of this country and the world.

"The President's Proclamation," New York Times, January 3, 1863

Biden’s presidential proclamation rescinded the national emergency declaration used by President Donald Trump to divert about $10 billion from Defense Department accounts toward the barrier, one of the costliest federal infrastructure projects in U.S. history.

Nick Miroff and Arelis R. Hernández, "Biden orders a 'pause' on border wall construction, bringing crews to halt," Washington Post, January 20, 2021

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