Word of the Day

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

scilicet

[ sil-uh-set ]

adverb

to wit; namely.

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What is the origin of scilicet?

The English adverb scilicet “namely, specifically, to wit” comes from Latin scīlicet, a contraction of the phrase scīre licet “it is permitted to know, one may be sure, of course, naturally.” The infinitive of the impersonal verb licet is licēre “to be allowed,” the source of licentia “freedom, freedom to do what one wants, lack of restraint, license” (as in English). The infinitive scīre “to know” was translated into Old English as (hit is tō) witanne “That is to know, to wit,” a gerund phrase from the verb witan “to know,” which became in Middle English it is to wite “it is to be noted,” and survives in current English as to wit. Scilicet entered English in the late 14th century.

how is scilicet used?

this universal world contains other guess sorrows than yours, Viscount,—scilicet than unvarying health, unbroken leisure, and incalculable income.

Charles Reade, Christie Johnstone, 1853

Marqueray like most men kept his work and play, scilicet his political intrigues and his pursuit of Phyllida, in separate compartments.

Anthony Pryde, Marqueray's Duel, 1920

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

celestial

[ suh-les-chuhl ]

adjective

pertaining to the sky or visible heaven, or to the universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

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What is the origin of celestial?

Celestial has always had several meanings, beginning with Latin caelestis, “being in, happening in, or coming from the sky or heavens,” ranging from the physical, astronomical, and navigational to the supernatural and divine, including the pagan Roman reference to emperors posthumously deified. Caelestis is an adjective derived from the noun caelum “heaven, sky,” whose etymology is unclear. The adjective celestial entered English in the late 14th century, the noun in the second half of the 16th.

how is celestial used?

Located deep in the disk of the Milky Way, the dense, dead celestial body had been slinging high-energy radiation into the cosmos for a week or so, as a rare class of objects called soft gamma-ray repeaters are known to do.

Nadia Drake, "'Magnetic Star' Radio Waves Could Solve the Mystery of Fast Radio Bursts," Scientific American, May 5, 2020

Of all the celestial bodies, the moon is closest to the matters of this lower world.

Jokha Alharthi, Celestial Bodies, translated by Marilyn Booth, 2018

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Monday, May 25, 2020

salute

[ suh-loot ]

verb (used with object)

to express respect or praise for; honor; commend.

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What is the origin of salute?

Of the verb and the noun salute, the verb is earlier, appearing in the late 14th century, the noun appearing between 1400 and 1450. The Middle English verb was saluten “to greet courteously or respectfully,” from the Latin verb salūtāre “to greet, hail, salute.” (In older English usage I salute you means “I send you respectful greetings.”) Salūtāre is a derivative of the noun salūs (inflectional stem salūt-) “health, safety, personal safety.” Salūs in its turn is derived from the adjective salvus “safe, safe and sound” (Salvus sum in colloquial Latin means “I’m all right”).

how is salute used?

Arlington, Va.’s Boy Scout Troop 164 helped to salute the fallen from that famous Army unit, whose history spans from World War I to the war in Iraq.

Michael E. Ruane and Antonio Olivo, "On Memorial Day, honoring the fallen and those who contributed," Washington Post, May 27, 2019

DiMaggio attended the post-game ceremony not only to remember Gehrig, his former teammate, but to salute the game’s new Iron Horse.

Claire Smith, "The Game Gets Together To Salute Favorite Son," New York Times, September 7, 1995

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

whelked

[ hwelkt, welkt ]

adjective

ridged like the shell of a snail: a whelked horn.

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What is the origin of whelked?

Whelked, “having ridges like the shell of a snail,” is an adjective derived from the noun whelk “a large, spiral-shelled, marine gastropod.” Whelk comes from Middle English welk, welke, wilk, wilke, from Old English weoloc, weluc, wiolc, wulloc. The modern spelling whelk, with initial wh-, first appears about 1425 in a cookbook.

how is whelked used?

As I stood here below, methought his eyes Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses, Horns whelked and waved like the enridged sea.

William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1608

Alice puckered her old whelked face into a thousand deeper wrinkles ….

George Soane, The Frolics of Puck, 1834

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

syncopate

[ sing-kuh-peyt, sin- ]

verb (used with object)

to place (the accents) on beats that are normally unaccented.

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What is the origin of syncopate?

Syncopate comes from Late Latin syncopātus, the past participle of the verb syncopāre, a derivative of the noun syncopa or syncopē, which has two senses: a grammatical sense “the contraction of a word by omitting one or more sounds from the middle, as never becoming ne’er,” and a medical sense “swooning, fainting away.” Syncopa and syncopē come from the Greek noun synkopḗ, which has the same meanings as the Latin, developments of its basic meaning “a cutting up into small pieces.” Syncopate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is syncopate used?

I juxtapose the rhythms, and I syncopate them to make the piece create the jazz feeling that I’d like to get.

"All Things Considered," NPR, December 1996

Finding syncopation in jazz is about as difficult as finding water in the ocean. It is the cornerstone of one of the principal sources of jazz rhythm, ragtime melody, so much so that to “rag a melody” and (a decade or so later) to “jazz up a melody” meant, in part, to syncopate it.

Barry Kernfeld, What to Listen for in Jazz, 1995

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Friday, May 22, 2020

soupçon

[ soop-sawn, soop-sawn ]

noun

a slight trace, as of a particular taste or flavor.

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What is the origin of soupçon?

To the Frenchless, soupçon looks as if it means “soupspoon.” In fact soupçon means “a hint, trace,” from Old French soupeçon, souspeçon, literally “suspicion, anxious worry,” from Late Latin suspectiōn– (stem of suspectiō), for Latin suspīciōn– “distrust, mistrust, suspicion.” Soupçon entered English in the 18th century.

how is soupçon used?

First, she repeated it rapturously in an enthusiastic contralto with a soupçon of Southern accent … 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, 1920

big summer movies, even the successful ones, are designed to be forgettable, passing through our system at precisely the same rate as a pint of Pepsi. Nothing is left but fizzing nerve ends and a sugary soupçon of rot.

Anthony Lane, "Men at Sea," The New Yorker, May 28, 2007

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

jawbone

[ jaw-bohn ]

verb (used with or without object)

to attempt to influence or pressure by persuasion rather than by the exertion of force or one's authority, as in urging voluntary compliance with economic guidelines.

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What is the origin of jawbone?

The slang use of jawbone, “to attempt to influence or pressure by persuasion rather than by force or authority as in urging voluntary compliance with economic guidelines,” originated in the U.S. Students of political history will associate it Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was a master of jawboning when he was Senate majority leader. Jawbone, a compound of jaw and bone meaning “a bone of the jaw,” entered English in the late 15th century.

how is jawbone used?

Johnson had a legendary ability to “jawbone” members of Congress into accepting his positions ….

Donald M. Snow, Patrick J. Haney, U. S. Foreign Policy: Back to the Water's Edge, 5th edition, 2018

And if we think one goes too far, we initially try to jawbone the governors into rolling them back or adjusting them.

Attorney General William Barr, as reported in, "Lawsuits Pile Up Against Coronavirus," Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2020

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