the series of small, jerky movements of the eyes when changing focus from one point to another.
Saccade “the series of small movements of the eyes when changing focus” is a borrowing of French saccade “a jerking movement, movement of a horseman who abruptly pulls the reins,” which derives from Middle French saquer “to pull violently,” a variant of Old French sachier. Though the connection is not certain, the prevailing theory is that sachier comes from the noun sac “bag, sack,” perhaps reflecting an early sense of sachier such as “to withdraw from a sack.” French sac derives via Latin saccus from Ancient Greek sákkos “bag made from goat hair,” which is likely borrowed from a Semitic source. It is rather common to find loanwords from Semitic languages (such as Arabic, Hebrew, and Phoenician) in Ancient Greek as the result of centuries of trade; whenever you read the words arsenic, crocus, cumin, lotus, myrrh, and sapphire, you’re looking at the remnants of Semitic influence on Ancient Greek. Saccade was first recorded in English in the 1720s.
Human eyes perform … jiggles, more formally called “saccades,” in response to a change in the field of vision. Our eyes quickly scan the surroundings and then send the data to the brain. Youthful eyes jiggle regularly to take in new or unfamiliar stimuli. As the person attached to those eyes ages, the eye muscles grow slower and the pathways between the eye and the brain grow longer, more complex, or, in some cases, damaged. In all, this means the brain receives less input over the course of a day. But by a certain age, the brain has grown accustomed to a certain amount of stimuli, and the relatively small amount received in old age leaves a person with the feeling that a day has ended too soon.
There’s a handy trick for reading station signs that otherwise fly past in a blur as you travel in a high-speed train. Look at one side of the window and then immediately at the other side of the window. When you change your gaze, your eyes will automatically make a rapid jerking movement, known as a saccade. If the direction of the saccade is the same as that of the train, your eyes will freeze the image for a split second, long enough to read the station name if you time things right …. The image of the station name becomes visible because it is traveling at the same speed as the eye, and the images before and after the saccade are blurred and so don’t interfere with the image of the sign. This shows us that our vision is still working when our eyes move rapidly during saccades.
the meal that Muslims eat after sunset during Ramadan to break the day’s fast.
Iftar “the meal that Muslims eat after sunset during Ramadan to break the day’s fast” is a borrowing of Arabic ʾifṭār “the breaking of the fast,” a verbal form of the noun ʾafṭara “to have breakfast, break a fast,” which is based on the same Arabic stem, fṭr, found in the holiday name Eid al-Fitr (from Arabic ʿīd al-fiṭr “festival of the breaking of the fast”). Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew base much of their vocabulary on three-consonant stems, and the Arabic stem fṭr (spelled fā, ṭā, rā) is cognate to the Hebrew stem pṭr (spelled pe, teth, resh), which is also found in Hebrew words relating to breaking, ending, or splitting. One example of this Hebrew stem is found in the word Haftarah, which is a portion of a text that was once recited at the conclusion of a Jewish liturgical service. Iftar was first recorded in the early 1830s.
For those of us not observing Ramadan but are blessed to have friends who are, now is the time for an invitation to partake in a fabulous home-cooked feast. During the holy month which runs until the end of July, Muslims fast during the day, then break the fast at dusk with a lavish meal called Iftar. From a slow-cooked goat meat stew called Nihari to desserts flavoured with cardamom, pine kernels and apricots, Iftar is a feast for the senses. Families usually cook special Iftar recipes rarely found outside their homes. Most have been collected over generations, others are carved out of unique bonds and circumstance.
When Rida Hamida approached a mosque with the idea of breaking Ramadan fast with a taco truck, she faced a tough sell. When it comes to the evening iftar—the dinner Muslims share after a day’s fasting in Ramadan—the Muslim population in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, is accustomed to traditional Arabic and South Asian biryani meals, with rice and meat kebabs. But besides being immediately gratifying and accessible, Hamida thought, the taco would also bring Orange County’s Latino and Muslim communities together. So she made a proposal: She’d bring a taco truck to the mosque to serve halal tacos, while the mosque’s leader provided biryani.
good-humored ridicule; banter.
Raillery “good-humored ridicule” is an adaptation of French raillerie, equivalent to the Middle French verb railler “to mock, deride” and the suffix -erie, which is used to indicate qualities, properties, or actions collectively. Railler derives by way of Occitan ralhar “to babble, chatter” from Late Latin ragere “to bray, bellow, roar.” The verb ragere is an example of Word of the Day hapax legomenon, which means “a word that only appears once in a particular work or area of literature”; in this case, ragere is included just one time in a Latin text that dates to the 10th century and is absent from all other texts in the Latin language. Ragere is likely of imitative origin, and although classical Latin had a similar-sounding synonym, rugīre “to roar” (compare French, Portuguese, and Spanish rugir), there is no connection between rugīre and ragere. Raillery was first recorded in English circa 1650.
Irish women writers, actors, painters, and journalists of the mid-twentieth-century socialised in a heady atmosphere of arty conversation and political raillery, and actively campaigned on issues which affected their rights as citizens. They hosted annual banquets to network with influential people in theatre and the media, invited writers (male and female) to their “at homes” to discuss art and literature, and publicly promoted the work of their members through a literary award system…
Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox