Word of the Day

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

scofflaw

[ skawf-law, skof- ]

noun

a person who flouts rules, conventions, or accepted practices.

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What is the origin of scofflaw?

Scofflaw, a transparent compound of the verb scoff “to deride, mock” and the noun law, was originally an Americanism coined during Prohibition. In 1923 Delcevare King, a wealthy prohibitionist from Quincy, Massachusetts, offered $200 in a contest for a word that best described “a lawless drinker of illegally made or illegally obtained liquor.” On January 15, 1924, the Boston Herald declared scofflaw the winner. Scofflaw had been submitted by Henry Dale and Kate Butler, two of the 25,000 contestants, who shared the prize.

how is scofflaw used?

Even then, he had a reputation as a scofflaw. He had exaggerated his war record. He first ran for Senate (and lost) while he was still in uniform, which was against Army regulations, and he ran his second Senate campaign while he was a sitting judge, a violation of his oath.

Louis Menand, "Joseph McCarthy and the Force of Political Falsehoods," The New Yorker, July 27, 2020

Larry David identified this breed of scofflaw [the two-space parker] as the “pig parker.”

Ray Gustini, "Pig Parkers, Parrot Talk, and Dustin Hoffman Heroics," The Atlantic, May 8, 2012

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Monday, August 31, 2020

gorp

[ gawrp ]

noun

Informal.

a mixture of nuts, raisins, dried fruits, seeds, or the like eaten as a high-energy snack, as by hikers and climbers.

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What is the origin of gorp?

Gorp, “trail mix,” was originally and still is mostly an American colloquialism dating from the 1950s. There is no satisfactory etymology for gorp (one common but improbable etymology interprets gorp as an acronym for good old raisins and peanuts; the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the verb gorp, “to eat greedily,” dates to 1913).

how is gorp used?

Oh, look, I found some MREs from that military-themed shindig where we taught a whole class to march and make their own gorp.

Caroline Aiken Koster, "Confessions of an Urban Prepper," Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2020

In that regard, every health-food nut knows what gorp is: a mix of cereal grains, peanuts, raisins, dates, little bits of chocolate or sugar candy. … To me, the word seems formed like Lewis Carroll’s creation of chortle by combining chuckle with snort: gorp is a wedded snort and gulp.

William Safire, "The Post-Holiday Strip," New York Times, January 6, 1985

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

kindred

[ kin-drid ]

adjective

having the same belief, attitude, or feeling.

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What is the origin of kindred?

Kindred as a noun means “one’s relatives, kinfolk”; as an adjective, “sharing beliefs, attitudes, or feelings.” Kindred comes from Middle English kinrede, which has many, many spelling variants. Kinrede is a compound of kin and the obsolete suffix –red, –rede, which forms nouns from other nouns. Kin comes from the Old English noun cynn “sort, kind,” from the Proto-Indo-European root gen-, gon– (with many variants) “to beget, give birth.” Cynn is related to Latin genus (plural genera) “birth, descent, origin, kind” (genus and genera are current in English), Greek génesis “origin” (English genesis comes from Greek via the Latin Bible). The Middle English suffix –red, –rede comes from Old English –rǣden, a noun and suffix meaning “condition” (hatred is the only other frequent noun in English with the suffix –red). The spelling kindred with internal d first appears about 1400 and has two possible origins: It may either be epenthetic, intrusive, a glide consonant between the n and r, or the d may be from the influence of the noun kind “nature, type, class.” Kindred entered English in the early 13th century.

how is kindred used?

Garth’s look feels rummaged out of a costume trunk—bedraggled blond wig, Buddy Holly glasses, mom jeans—but Carvey plays him with such feline sensitivity that l have always recognized him as a kindred spirit.

Amanda Hess, "'Wayne's World' & Me," New York Times, July 2, 2020

“I think he’s lovely,” said Anne reproachfully. “He is so very sympathetic. He didn’t mind how much I talked—he seemed to like it. I felt that he was a kindred spirit as soon as ever I saw him.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, 1908

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