Word of the Day

Sunday, November 25, 2018

serry

[ ser-ee ]

verb

Archaic. to crowd closely together.

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What is the origin of serry?

The uncommon verb serry has always had a military sense “to press close together in ranks.” Serry comes from French serré, the past participle of serrer “to press together, crowd.” French serrer comes from Italian serrare “to close ranks,” from Vulgar Latin serrāre, from Latin serāre, “to lock, bolt.” Serry entered English in the 16th century.

how is serry used?

Serry your ranks, there,” said the Major amiably as they edged past.

Edmund Crispin, The Glimpses of the Moon, 1977

Fish laid to serry like roofing tiles, glinting in their own oils.

Gregory Maguire, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, 1999
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Saturday, November 24, 2018

waggish

[ wag-ish ]

adjective

roguish in merriment and good humor; jocular; like a wag: Fielding and Sterne are waggish writers.

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What is the origin of waggish?

The origin of waggish is uncertain. It was first recorded in 1580–90.

how is waggish used?

He was always ready for either a fight or a frolic; but had more mischief than ill will in his composition, and, with all his overbearing roughness, there was a strong dash of waggish good humor at the bottom.

Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1820

They had recognized the goodness of his heart, the charm of his glance, his waggish temperament.

Fred Chappell, Look Back All the Green Valley, 1999
Friday, November 23, 2018

doorbuster

[ dawr-buhs-ter, dohr- ]

noun

Informal. a retail item that is heavily discounted for a very limited time in order to draw customers to the store. b. the price of such an item.

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What is the origin of doorbuster?

Doorbuster originally (in the 1890s) meant “one who breaks into or forces his way into a room or building.” By the first part of the 20th century, doorbuster also meant “a retail item heavily discounted for a short time to attract customers,” and towards the end of the 20th century, a doorbuster meant “a tool or device to force doors open.” The words bust and buster arose in the mid-17th century as regional or colloquial pronunciations of burst and burster, as also happened with curse and cuss, arse and ass, and parcel and passel.

how is doorbuster used?

At night, they slept in sleeping bags and hammocks as they prepared for the year’s biggest competition: beating their neighbors to discounted doorbusters.

Abha Bhattarai, "The Black Friday frenzy officially begins today. But many say the thrill is gone." Washington Post, November 23, 2017

Stores run “doorbuster” sales on the day after Thanksgiving, offering huge markdowns for a few hours, or “one-day sales” every day, because fostering a sense of time pressure, however artificial, makes shoppers more willing to buy.

James Surowiecki, "A Buyer's Christmas," The New Yorker, December 24, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2018

thanksgiver

[ thangks-giv-er ]

noun

a person who gives thanks.

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What is the origin of thanksgiver?

Thanksgiver entered English in the early 1600s.

how is thanksgiver used?

I am a Thanksgiver. I have a generous and grateful nature. I also have a splendid appetite.

, "A Confession," Caricature: Wit and Humor of a Nation in Picture, Song and Story, 1908

Wherefore we find (our never-to-be-forgotten) example, the devout thanksgiver, David, continually declaring the great price he set upon the divine favours …

Isaac Barrow (1630–1677), "Sermon VIII: Of the Duty of Thanksgiving," The Theological Works of Isaac Barrow, 1830
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

cornucopia

[ kawr-nuh-koh-pee-uh, -nyuh- ]

noun

an abundant, overflowing supply.

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What is the origin of cornucopia?

Cornucopia is a Late Latin formation, a combination of the Latin noun phrase cornū cōpiae “horn of plenty.” Cornūcōpia was coined by the late Imperial historian Ammianus Marcellinus (c 325 a.d.-c398 a.d.), a Greek probably born in Syria or Phoenicia who learned his Latin in the army. Cornū comes from the very complicated Proto-Indo-European root ker-, kor-, krā-, kŗ- (and other variants and their extensions) “head, horn.” English horn is a close relation of Latin cornū. Krāníon “skull, cranium” is one of the many Greek derivatives of the root. Cōpia is a derivative of the rare adjective cōpis (or cops) “well supplied, abundant.” Cornūcōpia entered English in the 16th century.

how is cornucopia used?

There were jars everywhere, a cornucopia of jars, and in the jars various dried herbs and potions …

T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Women, 2009

It is a real cornucopia of joy and merriment.

François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel: The Third Book, 1546
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

sippet

[ sip-it ]

noun

a small piece of bread or the like for dipping in liquid food, as in gravy or milk; a small sop.

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What is the origin of sippet?

The very uncommon noun sippet is a diminutive of sop “a piece of solid food, as bread, for dipping in liquid food” and the diminutive suffix -et, influenced by sip. Sippet entered English in the 16th century.

how is sippet used?

With dinner almost over, the broken meats of the second course not yet removed, Anne pulls a silver dish towards her, and helps herself to a sippet. It is her favourite way to end a meal …

Joanne Limburg, A Want of Kindness, 2015

… my sister Theodosia made her appearance … kissed our father, and sat down at his side, and took a sippet of toast … and dipped it in his negus.

William Makepeace Thackeray, The Virginians, 1859
Monday, November 19, 2018

gallinaceous

[ gal-uh-ney-shuhs ]

adjective

belonging or pertaining to the order Galliformes, comprising medium-sized, mainly ground-feeding domestic or game birds, as the chicken, turkey, grouse, pheasant, and partridge.

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What is the origin of gallinaceous?

The adjective gallinaceous comes straight from the Latin adjective gallīnāceus, a derivative of gallīna “hen,” itself a derivative of the noun gallus “rooster, cock.” Further etymology is uncertain: gallus may come from the Proto-Indo-European root gal- “to call, cry.” If so, gallus (from unattested galsos) means “shouter, crier” and is related to Lithuanian galsas “echo,” Polish głos “voice,” and English call (via Old Norse kall). Gallinaceous entered English in the 18th century.

how is gallinaceous used?

Yea, verily, there is much to inspire gratitude on this holiday centered on a gallinaceous bird with alarmingly hypertrophied breasts.

Glen Martin, “The Science of Holiday Happiness: Why Gratitude Really is Good for You,” California Magazine, November 24, 2014

In the sand I saw tracks of a large, gallinaceous bird — a sage grouse or chukar.

Denise Firestone, "Haven for Antelope and Hikers," New York Times, August 7, 1994

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