Word of the Day

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
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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
Friday, June 08, 2018

bacciferous

[ bak-sif-er-uhs ]

adjective

Botany. bearing or producing berries.

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What is the origin of bacciferous?

The English adjective bacciferous “bearing berries” comes from Latin bacca (also bāca) “fruit of a shrub or tree, nut,” a word of unknown origin. The Latin suffix -fer “carrying, bearing” is from a very widespread Proto-Indo-European root bher- “to carry,” source of Germanic (English) bear, Greek phérein “to carry, bear,” and Slavic (Polish) bierać “to carry.” Bacciferous entered English in the 17th century.

how is bacciferous used?

Bacciferous trees, are such as bear berries; as the juniper and yew-tree.

Charlotte Matilda Hunt, The Little World of Knowledge, 1826

The rays of the sun are essential to the proper development of all fruits, yet some, especially the bacciferous, demand a certain amount of shade in Summer and protection in Winter …

E. Daggy, "Douglas County Horticultural Society," Transactions of the Illinois State Horticultural Society, Volume II, 1869

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