Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, October 01, 2021

scrimp

[ skrimp ]

verb (used without object)

to be sparing or frugal; economize.

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What is the origin of scrimp?

Scrimp “to be sparing or frugal” is likely a borrowing from a Scandinavian language such as Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish, all of which descend from Old Norse. Both English and Old Norse are Germanic languages, but despite their close relationship, they diverged about 2,000 years ago, and this time apart resulted in many sound changes. Two common changes were the shifts from k to ch and from sk to sh, which happened in English but not in Scandinavian languages. This means that, when the Vikings invaded Great Britain and many Old Norse words entered English, English terms had to compete with their Norse cognates, resulting in church and kirk, shirt and skirt, and sharp and scrape. Though it entered English centuries after the Viking invasion, the Scandinavian word scrimp was originally a cognate of the English word shrimp; both derived from a Germanic verb meaning “to contract, shrink,” and while shrimp continued to refer to physical size, scrimp shifted to refer to money. Scrimp was first recorded in English in the early 1700s.

how is scrimp used?

The bride should be caught up in a delightful whirl. A marriage should be royal and magical. … Dwell on Olympus for that one day at least. Be gods. Ah! … Don’t stint on nuptials, don’t clip their splendour, don’t scrimp on the day that you shine. A wedding isn’t housekeeping. Oh, if I had a free hand, it would be glorious! Violins would be heard playing among the trees.

Victor Hugo (1802–1885), Les Misérables, translated by Christine Donougher, 2013

Though Thanksgiving falls on the more relaxed end of the sartorial spectrum in terms of American holidays, it’s no excuse to scrimp on style completely. Chic, timeless, and surprisingly versatile, an elevated slipper shoe is a simple yet effective way to keep your look from veering in too casual a direction.

Olivia Goodman, "This Thanksgiving, We’re Wearing Evening Slippers to Dinner: The 9 Best," Vogue, November 23, 2015

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Word of the day

Thursday, September 30, 2021

aureate

[ awr-ee-it, -eyt ]

adjective

golden or gilded.

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What is the origin of aureate?

Aureate “golden or gilded” comes from Latin aureus “golden,” from aurum “gold.” The further etymology of aurum is uncertain, but there are two competing theories—one with a phonological similarity that lacks a semantic resemblance and the other with a semantic similarity that lacks a phonological resemblance. Aurum may be connected to aurōra “dawn,” from a Proto-Indo-European root, ausōs-, of the same meaning, from the root aus- “to shine”; the definition would have shifted from “shining thing” to “gold.” If this theory were true, aurum would be related to Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn known for her rosy-tipped fingers, as well as to east and Easter, originally a Germanic goddess of springtime. An alternative theory connects aurum to aes “brass, bronze, copper,” from the Proto-Indo-European root ayos- “metal,” which is also the source of English ore. Aureate was first recorded in English in the early 1400s.

how is aureate used?

Still now, on those hot summer days when the sun lacquers Manhattan storefronts into something aureate and amber-rich, when the air is impenetrable, blistered, and rank, and when brick tenements on Ludlow evoke whatever decade speaks to your nostalgia, my brother’s copy of Paul’s Boutique comes to mind.

Durga Chew-Bose, “Heart Museum,” Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays, 2017

Though Frost maintained that “nothing gold can stay,” some goodness remains, the play concludes. But the poet may have been right after all; whatever small measure of aureate glimmer and substance here is, ultimately, fleeting.

Maya Phillips, "Review: Stuck in Maine in ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay,’" New York Times, October 9, 2019

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Word of the day

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

cordial

[ kawr-juhl ]

adjective

courteous and gracious.

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What is the origin of cordial?

Cordial “courteous and gracious” derives via Middle English from Medieval Latin cordiālis, from Latin cor (stem cordi-) “heart” and the adjectival suffix -ālis. Cor survives today in English terms such as accord, concord, discord, and record, which were borrowed directly from Latin, and courage, which was borrowed from French. The Proto-Indo-European root that gave rise to cor is kerd- “heart,” which is also the source of English heart and Ancient Greek kardía (as found in cardiac and cardiovascular). Cordial was first recorded in English in the late 1300s.

how is cordial used?

When I met him, I realized that Dyson is probably the most approachable and modest scientist I have met. … He is pointedly opinionated but also consummately cordial …. Discussions about science were punctuated by warm reminiscences about colleagues and fond stories about his grandchildren.

Ashutosh Jogalekar, “#Dysonfest: Celebrating Freeman Dyson’s 90th birthday,” Scientific American, September 24, 2013

I had been counting on this day to ask Mrs. Ford about living in and running the White House, and I didn’t think I would be back in Washington before the inauguration. Then the telephone rang again …. I was off to the White House. Mrs. Ford wasn’t well that afternoon and our visit was brief, but cordial.

Rosalynn Carter, First Lady from Plains, 1984

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