Word of the Day

Friday, November 08, 2019

salutary

[ sal-yuh-ter-ee ]

adjective

promoting or conducive to some beneficial purpose; wholesome.

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What is the origin of salutary?

Salutary ultimately comes from Latin salūs (inflectional stem salūt-) “health, welfare, safety.” In its sense of “promoting or conducive to some beneficial purpose; wholesome,” salutary entered English in the late 1400s. Salutary, in its sense of “favorable to or promoting health; healthful,” emerged in the mid-1600s. A synonym for salutary (“healthful”) is salubrious, which is also rooted in Latin salūs. Salūs could also mean “greeting,” as in greeting someone with “best wishes (for their well-being).” This meaning of salūs gave rise to the verb salūtāre “to greet, hail,” source of the English noun and verb salute.

how is salutary used?

After Gutenberg, books became widely available, setting off a cascade of salutary movements and innovations, including but not limited to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the steam engine, journalism, modern literature, modern medicine, and modern democracy.

Andrew Marantz, "The Dark Side of Techno-Utopianism," The New Yorker, September 23, 2019

However salutary these tactics may be with regard to the evaporation of the national debt in the countries just mentioned, the fact is nevertheless incontestable that the gold mentality of the world remains unaffected.

Henry Miller, "Money and How It Gets That Way," Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, 1962
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Thursday, November 07, 2019

picayune

[ pik-ee-yoon, pik-uh- ]

adjective

Informal.

of little value or account; small; trifling: a picayune amount.

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What is the origin of picayune?

In the early 1800s in Louisiana, Florida, and other Southern U.S. states, the noun picayune designated a coin equal to a Spanish half-real, which was worth a mere six-and-one-quarter cents. Picayune comes from Provençal picaioun (compare French picaillons “money”), a type of copper coin from the historical region of Savoy in southeastern France. While the picayune, as currency, fell out of circulation in the U.S., the word picayune did not. Picayune—on the basis of the coin’s paltry sum—extended as an adjective meaning “of little value or account; small; trifling.” The name of the former coin also survives in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which cost one picayune when the newspaper was established (as The Picayune) in 1837.

how is picayune used?

The point is less to dwell on the picayune details of what was once known as the “browser wars” than to show how hard it is to escape the hold these companies’ ecosystems have on our lives.

Jacob Silverman, "Breaking up Big Tech may be impossible. It's still worth trying." Washington Post, June 5, 2019

“My client is determined to have his day in court.” “But why?” Swan said. “It’s such a picayune amount of money.”

Matt Braun, Dodge City, 2006
Wednesday, November 06, 2019

turophobia

[ tur-uh-foh-bee-uh ]

noun

an irrational or disproportionate fear of cheese.

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What is the origin of turophobia?

People who desperately avoid cheese may at least be pleased to learn there is a word they can use for their experience: turophobia “an irrational or disproportionate fear of cheese.” This term is formed on tur-, a variant of Greek tȳrós “cheese” and -phobia, a combining form meaning “fear,” itself from Greek phóbos “fear, panic.” Fear not, cheese lovers: a turophile is a connoisseur or lover of cheese, with –phile a Greek-derived combining form meaning “lover of.” Turophobia is fairly new formation in English, recorded in the early 2000s.

how is turophobia used?

Stossel’s own fears include turophobia, a fear of cheese; asthenophobia, a fear of fainting; and claustrophobia.

, "Fear of Fainting, Flight And Cheese: One Man's 'Age of Anxiety'," NPR, January 6, 2014

What is your main character’s worst fear? Is it something universal, like the death of a loved one? Or a rare phobia, like turophobia (fear of cheese).

Sarah Ockler, "10 Prompts to Get You Out of a NaNoWriRut," The NanoWriMo Blog, November 6, 2015

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