Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

scunner

[ skuhn-er ]

noun

an irrational dislike; loathing.

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What is the origin of scunner?

Those who are addicted to the late, great, dearly missed Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series of novels (41 of them!), particularly The Wee Free Men (2003) and its sequels, will be familiar with the Wee Free Men’s constant use of scunner, a term hard to define past “dislike, aversion, or a source of dislike or aversion” (as indefinable as Huck Finn’s fantods). The Wee Free Men are not talking gibberish or nonsense; they are speaking Scots. The verb scunner (also scurnen, skurne) “to shrink back in disgust or fear, quail, hesitate” is first recorded about 1425. Its further history is unknown, but some authorities think it is related to scornen “to despise, be contemptuous, hold in disdain.” Scunner entered English in the 14th century.

how is scunner used?

Many are in search of a copy of A Moveable Feast. This is not always on offer because, for some reason which I can’t remember, Whitman took a scunner to Hemingway.

Alan Massie, "Shakespeare and Company: the bookshop where you could read in bed," Telegraph, December 15, 2011

Ever since my school days I’ve always taken a scunner to businessmen. They’ll do anything for money.

Sōseki Natsume, I Am a Cat, translated by Aiko Ito & Graeme Wilson, 1972

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Word of the day

Monday, October 12, 2020

Indigenous

[ in-dij-uh-nuhs ]

adjective

relating to or being a people who are the original, earliest known inhabitants of a region, or are their descendants.

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What is the origin of Indigenous?

When used in reference to people (the sense we are highlighting today), Indigenous may be capitalized as a sign of respect. A quick glance at indigenous and endogenous shows close relationship in their formation and meaning. Both adjectives mean something like “internally produced, developing from within.” The first element, Latin indi- and Greek endo-, comes from Proto-Indo-European endo, endon “inside, indoors,” perhaps originally “in the house” (Greek éndon, Hittite anda, andan “within”). In Latin, endo, later indu, is an archaic preposition equivalent to the preposition and adverb in, in– “in, into, inside.” The Latin adjectival suffix –genus “born of” is a derivative of the verb gignere “to beget, bring into being, create” (indigena means “a native inhabitant”). Latin –genus is close kin to the Greek suffix –genḗs “born,” from the verb gígnesthai “to become, be born” (endogenḗs means “born in the house”).

how is Indigenous used?

One shelf contained nonfiction, mostly medical reference books and biographies of great Indigenous people.

Darcie Little Badger, Elatsoe, 2020

For Indigenous authors, writing themselves into sci-fi and fantasy narratives isn’t just about gaining visibility within popular genres. It is part of a broader effort to overcome centuries of cultural misrepresentation.

Alexandra Alter,

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Word of the day

Sunday, October 11, 2020

roister

[ roi-ster ]

verb (used without object)

to act in a swaggering, boisterous, or uproarious manner.

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What is the origin of roister?

The English verb roister, “to act boisterously; to revel without restraint,” started life as a noun meaning “noisy bully” (now roisterer), from Middle French rustre, ru(i)stre “ruffian, boor, lout,” from the adjective ruste “rude, rough,” from the Latin adjective rusticus “rural, rustic.” Roister entered English in the 16th century.

how is roister used?

Haerlem, Schiedam and Olifant were the ships, and they tied up so that their sailors could roister ashore, and large fights broke out because sailors from the first two ships, which bore honorable names, began to tease those. from the Olifant, Dutch for elephant.

James A. Michener, The Covenant, 1980

Their tails had become sticky with pine sap, then got knotted together as the squirrels roistered around.

John Kelly, "What do you do when five baby squirrels accidentally tie their tails together?" Washington Post, April 16, 2019

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