Word of the Day

Sunday, December 09, 2018

rutilant

[ root-l-uhnt ]

adjective

glowing or glittering with ruddy or golden light.

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What is the origin of rutilant?

It is one thing to see greatly varying descendants of Proto-Indo-European words in its daughter languages, as for instance in the very common (and easy to handle) Proto-Indo-European root bher-, bhor- “to carry, bear, bear children,” which appears as bhar- in Sanskrit, pher- in Greek, fer- in Latin, and ber- in Slavic, Armenian, and Germanic (English bear). It is another thing to see wildly variant forms of a Proto-Indo-European root within one language, but Latin offers a good example from the Proto-Indo-European root reudh-, roudh-, rudh- “red.” (The root variant roudh- becomes raud- in Germanic, rēad in Old English (the ēa is a diphthong from au) and red in English.) Roudh- is also the source of Latin rūfus, a dialect word meaning “red, tawny” and also a proper name “Red” (rufous and Rufus in English). Roudh- also yields Latin rōbus “red (of oxen and other animals),” rōbur “oak, red oak” (the adjective rōbustus “of oak, oaken, strong” becomes robust in English). The root variant rudh- yields Latin ruber “red,” rutilus “glowing red,” with its derivative verb rutilāre “to glow with a bright red or golden color,” whose present participle stem rutilant- becomes English rutilant. Rutilant entered English in the 15th century.

how is rutilant used?

Sometimes, when reading one of his works, I wonder whether Mr. Lawrence has not mistaken his medium, and whether it is not a painter he ought to have been, so significant is for him the slaty opalescence of the heron’s wing and so rutilant the death of the sun.

W. L. George, "Three Young Novelists," Literary Chapters, 1918

She looks up occasionally, between cross stitches, to gaze upon the steady stream of tourists stopping to admire the rutilant, shimmering sandstone folds unfurling 4,000 feet below.

Sam McManis, "Discoveries: Grand Canyon's South Rim crowded but not overbearing," Sacramento Bee, July 25, 2015
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Saturday, December 08, 2018

trimming

[ trim-ing ]

noun

anything used or serving to decorate or complete: the trimmings of a Christmas tree.

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What is the origin of trimming?

It is quite a jump to go from Byrhtnoth, Ealdorman of Essex, arranging his men in battle order (trymian) against the Vikings (recorded in the magnificent Old English poem The Battle of Maldon) to cranberry sauce and creamed onions with the Thanksgiving turkey. The Old English adjective trum “strong, firm” is the source of the verb trymian, trymman “to encourage, strengthen, prepare.” The Old English noun trymming, derived from the verb, means “strengthening, confirmation, edification, establishment.” The modern spelling trimming first appears in the first half of the 16th century with several meanings. One is “the repair or preparation of equipment, especially fitting out of a ship,” e.g., “trimming of the sails.” A second sense, all but contemporaneous with the first, is “adornment, dressing one’s hair or beard, dressing up.” A third sense of trimming, perhaps associated with the notion of dressing (up), is “a rebuke, a beating,” that is, “a dressing down.” In the early 17th century, trimming, especially in the plural, and typically in the phrase “all the trimmings,” meant “ordinary accessories (as for a house or cooked meat).” In the early 19th century, trimming acquired the meaning “pieces cut off, cuttings, scraps.”

how is trimming used?

It was after eleven when William in his socks made his way to the attic where the trimmings for the tree were stored.

Mary Roberts Rinehart, "The Butler's Christmas Eve," Alibi for Isabel, 1944

Painting china, carving wood, button-holing butterflies and daisies onto Turkish towelling, and making peacock-feather trimming, amused her for a time …

Louisa May Alcott, "What Becomes of the Pins," Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag, Volume 5: Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore, Etc., 1879
Friday, December 07, 2018

scrooch

[ skrooch ]

verb

Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. to crouch, squeeze, or huddle (usually followed by down, in, or up).

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What is the origin of scrooch?

Scrooch “to crouch, squeeze, huddle” was originally a U.S. colloquial and dialect word. It is probably a variant of scrouge “to squeeze, crowd,” itself a blend of the obsolete verb scruze “to squeeze” and gouge. To make things even more unclear, scruze itself is a blend of screw and bruise. Scrooch entered English in the 19th century.

how is scrooch used?

When you want to get up again, you sort of scrooch forward and the chair comes up straight so you don’t have to dislocate your sciatica trying to get out of the pesky thing.

Charlotte MacLeod, Something the Cat Dragged In, 1984

Myr Korso, please tell him to scrooch down if he has to be there.

James Tiptree, Jr., Brightness Falls from the Air, 1985

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