Word of the Day

Monday, June 11, 2018

scrutator

[ skroo-tey-ter ]

noun

a person who investigates.

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What is the origin of scrutator?

English scrutator comes straight from the Latin noun scrūtātor “searcher (after something or someone hidden),” a derivative of the verb scrūtārī“ to probe, examine closely,” originally “to sort through rags.” Scrūtārī itself is a derivative of the (neuter plural) noun scrūta “discarded items, junk.” Scrutator entered English in the late 16th century.

how is scrutator used?

Mistrust, assuming the ascendency, commenced its regency, and the observations of so indefatigable and eagle eyed a scrutator produced a conviction of the blackest perfidy.

Judith Seargent Murray, "No. LXXVIII," The Gleaner: A Miscellaneous Production in Three Volumes, 1798

I did not find him to be a thinker, and much less a scrutator

Abbé Barruel, Memoirs, Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, translated by Robert Clifford, 1799
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Sunday, June 10, 2018

sennight

[ sen-ahyt, -it ]

noun

Archaic. a week.

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What is the origin of sennight?

The archaic English noun sennight means literally “seven nights,” i.e. a week. The Old English form was seofan nihta; Middle English had very many forms, including soveniht, sevenight, seven nyght, sennyght.

how is sennight used?

It had taken them only a sennight to travel from Sentarshadeen … into the heart of the lost Lands to face the power of Shadow Mountain.

Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, To Light a Candle, 2004

She that I spake of, our great captain’s captain, / Left in the conduct of the bold Iago, / Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts / A sennight‘s speed.

William Shakespeare, Othello, 1622
Saturday, June 09, 2018

congeries

[ kon-jeer-eez, kon-juh-reez ]

noun

a collection of items or parts in one mass; assemblage; aggregation; heap: From the airplane the town resembled a congeries of tiny boxes.

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What is the origin of congeries?

English congeries comes directly from the Latin noun congeriēs “collection, pile, heap,” a derivative of the verb congerere “to collect, amass.” Congeries is a singular noun in Latin as it has always been in English. In the mid-19th century a new singular arose in English, congery, a back formation from congeries. Congeries entered English in the 17th century.

how is congeries used?

… each bud has a leaf, which is its lungs, appropriated to it, and the bark of the tree is a congeries of the roots of these individual buds …

Erasmus Darwin, "The Loves of Plants," The Botanic Garden, 1791

He further emptied the valise, lifting out a queer-looking congeries of glass cells and coils to which the wire from the helmet was attached, and delivering a fire of running comment too technical for me to follow yet apparently quite plausible and straightforward.

Hazel Heald and H. P. Lovecraft, "The Horror in the Museum," Weird Tales, July 1933

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