Word of the Day

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Shangri-la

[ shang-gruh-lah, shang-gruh-lah ]

noun

a faraway haven or hideaway of idyllic beauty and tranquility.

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What is the origin of Shangri-la?

The placename Shangri-La was coined by the English novelist James Hilton (1900-54), but the name has a firm Tibetan etymology. Shangri-La in Tibetan means “Shang Mountain Pass,” from Shang, the name of a region in Tibet; ri means “mountain,” and la means “pass.” Beyond the name itself, everything associated with Shangri-La is pure speculation and fantasy. Shangri-La entered English in 1933.

how is Shangri-la used?

A small settlement wedged between fjord-like Lake Chelan and the jagged eastern slopes of the Cascades, Stehekin has several comfortable lodges, an excellent bakery and, best of all, relatively few visitors. … First, of course, we had to get to this little Shangri-La.

Ethan Todras-Whitehill, "In the Cascades, a Trifecta for Outdoor Enthusiasts," New York Times, September 17, 2014

With its youth and isolation and spectacular scenery, there was a tendency to think of Los Alamos as a Shangri-La.

Katrina R. Mason, Children of Los Alamos: An Oral History of the Town Where the Atomic Age Began, 1995
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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

mythoclast

[ mith-uh-klast ]

noun

a destroyer or debunker of myths.

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What is the origin of mythoclast?

English mythoclast comes from two familiar Greek words. The Greek noun mŷthos has many meanings: “speech, word, public speech, unspoken word, matter, fact,” as in mythology, “a set of stories, traditions, or beliefs.” The Greek combining form -klastēs “breaker” is most familiar in iconoclast “one who breaks images or statues” (literally and figuratively). A mythoclast is one who breaks or destroys a myth or myths in general. Mythoclast entered English in the late 19th century.

how is mythoclast used?

Tommy Moore, a life-long friend, an insatiable consumer of history, and a fellow mythoclast by constitution, accompanied me to the field on several occasions, and read sections of the working manuscript.

Scott Stine, A Way Across the Mountain, 2015

… right now I reckon him a mythoclast, the sort of man you wouldn’t trust with the Glastonbury Thorn, the Devil’s Arrows at Boroughbridge, or Father Christmas.

John Hillaby, "What's under York Minster?" New Scientist, March 29, 1973
Tuesday, April 03, 2018

anecdata

[ an-ik-dey-tuh, -dat-uh, -dah-tuh ]

noun

anecdotal evidence based on personal observations or opinions, random investigations, etc., but presented as fact: biased arguments supported by anecdata.

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What is the origin of anecdata?

Anecdata is a reworking of anecdotal data. Anecdotal comes from the Greek adjective anékdotos “unpublished,” formed from the negative prefix an-, a-, the preposition and prefix ex-, ek- “out of,” and the past participle dotós “given, granted.” Each of the three Greek elements corresponds in form, origin, and meaning to Latin inēditus “unpublished” (the negative prefix in-, the preposition and prefix ex-, ē-, and the past participle datus “given.” Data is the neuter plural of datus used as a noun, “things given.” Anecdata entered English in the late 20th century.

how is anecdata used?

Please. Stop letting yourself get carried away based on random anecdata from the Internet.

Julie Lawson Timmer, Five Days Left, 2014

Again, industry stats support the anecdata. Publishers are reporting declining ebook sales but growing audiobook revenues, with audio filling the digital revenue gap that ebooks left.

Antonio Garcia Martinez, "The Veni, Vidi, Vici of Voice," Wired, February 28, 2018

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