The 2021 Word Of The Year is…
The informal plural noun shenanigans “mischief, pranks” is more common than the singular shenanigan. Shenanigan was originally an Americanism, first appearing in print in two California newspapers, Town Talk (San Francisco) and Spirit of the Age (Sacramento), in the mid-1850s, toward the end of the California Gold Rush. The fact that shenanigan first appeared in newspapers with no explanation demonstrates that it had already been around in conversation for a while. There are at least 11 recorded spellings for the singular noun (but only one for the plural); there are at least five suggested etymologies: French, Spanish, Erse (Irish Gaelic), a Rhenish Franconian dialect of German, and East Anglian (modern Norfolk and Suffolk in the U.K.). As the lawyers say, non liquet “it isn’t clear.”
One of the “new” old books I recently took out was “The Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss, the 1957 classic about two siblings stuck at home and the shenanigans that they get up to.
An odd episode, this. The first half contrasts Captain Scott’s ill-fated exploration with modern Antarctic research, while the second is essentially cameraperson shenanigans.
Nimiety is a bit much, literally. It comes from the Late Latin noun nimietās (inflectional stem nimietāt-) “excess, overabundance,” a derivative of the adjective nimius “excessive, immoderate.” Nimius in its turn is a derivative of the adverb and noun nimis “too much, unduly; an excessive amount or degree.” Nimietās first appears in the Metamorphōsēs (“Transformations”) of Lucius Apuleius, who may have coined the word. Apuleius was a Roman satirist and Epicurean philosopher who was born in Madaurus in North Africa and lived in the 2nd century a.d. His Metamorphōsēs is a bawdy, picaresque novel, the only ancient Roman novel to survive intact. St. Augustine of Hippo (a.d. 354-420), also from North Africa, disliked Epicureanism (most ancients did because of its atheism) and derisively renamed Apuleius’ Metamorphōsēs the Asinus Aureus (“Golden Ass”), an alternative title that has persisted till this day. Nimiety entered English in the first half of the 16th century.
But of course there were problems of upkeep, and an oppressive feeling of nimiety, or too‐muchness. I have suffered from it all my life—too many possessions, too many books, too much to eat and drink.
The additions to the template may be broadly inconsequential … but the execution is unrivalled—the humorous animations, the high-contrast vistas, the nimiety of customization options. Video games have been this detailed before, but rarely to such unwaveringly joyous effect.
ice crystals formed in turbulent water, as in swift streams or rough seas.
The relatively uncommon noun frazil “ice crystals formed in turbulent water, as in swift streams or rough seas,” comes from Canadian French frasil (also frazil, fraisil), an extension of French fraisil “coal cinders, coal dust.” French fraisil is an alteration of Vulgar Latin adjective facilis “pertaining to a torch or firebrand,” a derivative of the Latin noun fax (inflectional stem fac-) “torch, light.” It is unsurprising that frazil first appeared in the Montreal Gazette in the winter of 1888.
Sea ice begins as tiny, needle-shaped crystals, about a tenth of an inch long, known as frazil.
First the wind churns up the surface, and the spray and droplets freeze into frazil. Murphy describes this as a collection of “spicules,” or needle-shaped pieces.