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an effigy, image, or representation: a simulacrum of Aphrodite.
Simulacrum, “a likeness, an image,” comes straight from Latin simulācrum “a resemblance in sight or sound, an image, a statue (of a god).” Simulācrum is a derivative of the verb simulā(re) “to simulate, pretend” and -crum, a variant of -culum, a suffix denoting tools or instruments. Simulāre in its turn is a derivative of the adjective similis “like, similar,” which through Medieval Latin similāris and Old French similaire becomes English similar. Simulacrum entered English at the end of the 16th century.
Except for flakes of plaster in its streets, the little city is entirely undamaged. The simulacrum now more whole than the original.
A gallery of thumbnail-size co-workers on a laptop screen is a diminished simulacrum of the conference-table gatherings that drive so much of corporate life.
verb (used without object)
to waver in mind or opinion; be indecisive or irresolute: His tendency to vacillate makes him a poor leader.
The verb vacillate comes from Latin vacillāt(us), the past participle of the verb vacillāre “(of a person) to be unsteady on one’s feet, stagger, reel; to waver in mind or opinion; (of a thing) to rock, sway, be in an unsound or precarious condition,” which is also used of persons in regard to their financial condition (yet another demonstration that in some respects the ancients were quite modern). Vacillate entered English at the end of the 16th century.
Manfred, who has an unusual ability to vacillate between pugnacious and charming, cajoled owners, stressing the idea that the sport had to have a season.
As state and local governments vacillate between easing and increasing restrictions, normal summer programs may be unavailable, or if open, may be operating at significantly reduced capacities.
of, relating to, or characteristic of a sister or sisters; sisterly.
Sororal means simply “relating to one’s sister or sisters; sisterly.” It derives from the Latin noun soror “sister” and the English adjective suffix -al, which ultimately comes from the Latin suffix -ālis. Soror comes from Proto-Indo-European swésor- “sister,” in Latin going through the stages from swesor to swosor to sworor to soror. Swésor- appears in Sanskrit as svásar-, in Greek as éor (Greek from preliterate times has had trouble with initial and intervocalic s and w, let alone the cluster sw-, all of which usually became h in classical Greek and disappeared in Hellenistic and later Greek). The form swésōr becomes siur in Old Irish and chwaer in Welsh. The Germanic variant swestar yields Gothic swistar, Old Norse systir, which influenced Old English sweostor and suster to become English sister. Sororal entered English in the mid-17th century.
Greta Gerwig’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s novel is intelligent and fleet, refreshing if not radical, and as organic in its feminist convictions as it is in its depiction of close-knit sororal love.
Eva Kor describes having the same sort of sororal telepathy with her twin, Miriam Czaigher. … each seemed to know when the other was in special need.
a source of great and sudden wealth or luck; a spectacular windfall: The play proved to be a bonanza for its lucky backers.
Bonanza is a Mexican Spanish noun that entered American English in the early 1840s. In Spanish bonanza means “fair, calm weather (for sailing); prosperity.” Bonanza is a nasalized variant of Vulgar and Medieval Latin bonacia, bonatzia “calm sea,” which is a blend of the Latin adjective bon(us) “good” and Medieval Latin (mal)acia “calm sea,” from Greek malakía “softness.” Bonanza, with a transferred sense “rich vein of ore,” was first applied to the gold mines of Placer County, California (1844), and the silver mines of the Comstock Lode, Nevada (1859).
After Stevie Wonder appeared in a segment, one of his greatest-hits albums jumped to the top of the U.K. iTunes charts, turning “Carpool Karaoke” into a promotional bonanza.
Over the next three weeks they picked up four new clients, a bonanza by Harvey’s standards.
verb (used with object)
to make obscure or unclear: to obfuscate a problem with extraneous information.
The verb obfuscate comes from Late Latin (especially Christian Latin) offuscāt(us), also obfuscāt(us), the past participle of offuscāre (obfuscāre), literally “to darken, obscure.” Offuscāre is a compound of the preposition and prefix ob, of– “toward, against,” also used as an intensive prefix, as here, and the verb fuscāre “to make dark, become dark.” The Latin root word is the adjective fuscus “dark, somber, dim, drab.” Fuscus is possibly related to Old English dox, dosc “dark,” source of the English noun and adjective dusk. Obfuscate entered English in the first half of the 16th century.
Of course all this talk of carbon emissions obfuscates the other significant dangers associated with the nuclear cycle.
But it will take moral clarity, which will require both editors and reporters to stop doing things like reflexively hiding behind euphemisms that obfuscate the truth, simply because we’ve always done it that way.
vanishing; fading away; fleeting.
The adjective evanescent, “vanishing, fading,” comes via the French adjective évanescent, from Latin ēvānēscēns (inflectional stem ēvānēscent-), the present participle of the verb ēvānēscere “to disappear, vanish, fade away,” whose root word is the adjective vānus “empty, hollow, illusory,” source of English vain (via Old French). Ēvānēscere is a compound of the preposition and prefix ex-, ē- “out, out of, utterly, completely” and the verb vānēscere “to melt into nothing, vanish.” Ēvānēscere becomes esvanir, evanir in Old French, with a present stem esvaniss-, evaniss-, the source of Middle English vanis(s)hen, “to disappear, disappear suddenly,” English vanish. Evanescent entered English in the early 18th century.
Readers, after enjoying a book, are desperate not to let go of the characters, the evanescent feeling of being in the text.
The pantomime of head-butting and jabbing, with moments when his whole body crumples as if in grief, lasts mere seconds. Every gesture is sharp but evanescent, vanishing as quickly as it takes shape.
British and Australian Informal.
to complain; whine.
The verb whinge, “to complain, whine,” occurs in just about every national variety of English—British, Irish (James Joyce, Samuel Beckett), Scottish (Robert Burns), Australian, New Zealand—but remains lesser known in US English. Indeed, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry’s address at the Dursleys (4 Privet Drive / Little Whinging / Surrey), Whinging had to be glossed for American readers. Whinge comes from Scots and northern England dialect quhynge (these varieties of Middle English often use qu- for standard English wh-, as in quat for what, quere for where); hence quhynge is pronounced whinge. Quhynge comes from Old English hwinsian “to complain” and is related to whine, whisper, and whistle, all of which come from a Germanic root hwei– “to whistle, whisper.” Whinge entered English in the mid-12th century.
When an Ohio second grader joins in to whinge about achy pen-holding fingers, handwriting … becomes as hot a topic as in Erasmus’s day.
I wrote in my diary: ‘Here I am in Paris with dreams fulfilled and I whinge because my back hurts! But it bloody does.’