Word of the Day

Saturday, May 22, 2021

sartorial

[ sahr-tawr-ee-uhl, -tohr- ]

adjective

of or relating to clothing or style or manner of dress.

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What is the origin of sartorial?

The adjective sartorial, “relating to tailors or tailoring,” is a derivative of the Late Latin noun sartor (inflectional stem sartōr-) “a tailor,” a derivative of the verb sarcīre “to patch, mend.” One of the many duties of Roman censors was to let out contracts for the repair and maintenance of public buildings, roads, bridges, etc., the technical phrase for these operations being sarta tecta (neuter plural) “repairs,” literally “mended roofs, patched roofs, weatherproof buildings.” But as Rome’s power grew, so did opportunities for corruption in the competition for lucrative contracts. Sartorial entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is sartorial used?

At least at first, sweatpants followed a common sartorial route. … Items of clothing tend to become divorced from their origins as they become wardrobe staples, and the pipeline from sports to everyday life has been a fruitful one for our closets.

Amanda Mull, "America's Most Hated Garment," The Atlantic, December 8, 2020

The Duke’s style was in direct contrast to the stodgy, hidebound and somewhat half-hearted sartorial style of his father-in-law, King George VI. Phillip, as an energetic sportsman (sailing, cricket, polo), exhibited a flair for wearing clothes comfortably and without controversy.

Nick Sullivan, "Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Was Always Dressed for the Occasion," Esquire, April 9, 2021

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Friday, May 21, 2021

plenipotent

[ pluh-nip-uh-tuhnt ]

adjective

invested with or possessing full power.

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What is the origin of plenipotent?

The adjective plenipotent,“invested with or possessing full power,” comes from Late Latin plēnipotent– (stem of plēnipotēns), which is composed of plēni-, the combining form of plēnus “full” and potent-, the combining form of potēns, the present participle of posse “to be able, have power.” Plenipotent is not as common in English as its close relative, the adjective and noun plenipotentiary (as a noun, plenipotentiary usually refers to a diplomat with full power to conduct business or negotiations.) Plenipotent entered English in 1639; plenipotentiary in 1646.

how is plenipotent used?

In his youth he drudged 12 hours a day, at a salary of 4 shillings a week ($1.00). Last week he welcomed to the sumptuous mayoral board a company of diners plenipotent and distinguished.

"British Commonwealth of Nations: At the Guildhall," Time, November 23, 1925

Nature, impassive and plenipotent, waits to reward or punish us.

Julia Whitty, "The Thirteenth Tipping Point," Mother Jones, November/December 2006

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Thursday, May 20, 2021

hapax legomenon

[ hap-aks li-gom-uh-non, hey-paks ]

noun

a word or phrase that appears only once in a manuscript, document, or particular area of literature.

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What is the origin of hapax legomenon?

The phrase hapax legomenon, “a word or phrase appearing only once in literature,” comes from Greek hápax legomenon, composed of the adverb hápax “once, one time” and the neuter singular present passive participle legómenon “(being) said,” from the verb légein “to say.” (Hapax is also used by itself in English as a noun; the plural of hapax legomenon is hapax legomena.) One famous hapax—as far as these things go—is the adjective epioúsion in the phrase ártonepioúsion in the clause “(Give us this day our) daily bread,” in the Lord’s Prayer in the gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. The Greek noun ártos means “wheat bread, bread (in general)” and presents no problem. Epioúsion may mean “(enough) for today, today’s, next day’s, necessary, sufficient.” Epioúsion is variously translated in Latin: one of them, quotīdiānum “daily,” is an inadequate, even wrong translation of epioúsion, but it was used in Tyndale’s translation of the Bible (1534) and the King James Bible (1611), and it is used today in most modern English translations. Hapax legomenon entered English in the late 17th century.

how is hapax legomenon used?

I have no such grand designs in this essay, nor could I possibly discuss all of the hapax legomena in just The Lord of the Rings, not even in the most cursory fashion because there are more than five thousand of them.

Jason Fisher, "Some Contributions to Middle-earth Lexicography: Hapax Legomena in The Lord of the Rings," The Year's Word in Medievalism, 2012

The adjective φολκός is an absolute hapax legomenon in the Greek language: it occurs only here and in some ancient scholia, lexica, and commentaries on this very passage.

Steve Reece, Homer's Winged Words, 2009

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