from that time; since then.
Sinsyne “from that time” is unusual in that it is a compound of two doublets, or words sharing a root that came into a language through different pathways, as we learned from the recent Words of the Day firth and quagmire. Much as firth is a doublet of fjord and (quag)mire is a doublet of moss, the sin- and -syne halves of sinsyne both derive from a Middle English term meaning “after”; the difference is that the sin- element is from sithen in one dialect of Middle English, while the -syne element is from sethen in a different dialect, perhaps with influence from Old Norse. Middle English sithen was combined with the adverbial suffix -s (compare always and unawares) to create sithenes “afterwards, because,” which eventually became modern English since. Sinsyne was first recorded in English in the mid-14th century.
Folk have dee’d [died] sinsyne and been buried, and are forgotten, and bairns been born and … got bairns o’ their ain [own] …. [S]insyne auld estates have changed hands, and there have been wars and rumours of wars on the face of the earth.
The bonnie flowers o’ Paradise, / And a’ [all] that’s bloom’d sinsyne, / …. Ilk [every] blade o’ grass has had as weel [well] / Its ain [own] sweet drap [drop] o’ dew.
a warm, dry wind descending a mountain, as on the north side of the Alps.
Foehn “a warm, dry wind to the north of the Alps” is a borrowing of German Föhn; the German language often allows for vowels with umlauts (such as ö and ü) to be written instead with a subsequent e (such as oe and ue) under certain circumstances. Föhn ultimately comes from the Latin name Favōnius, which is the personification of the west wind according to Roman mythology, equivalent to Zephyrus (also Zephyros) in Greek mythology, which gives us zephyr. Favōnius may be related to the verb favēre (stem fav-) “to favor,” which is also the source of favorable and favorite. Because the vowel u and the consonant v were both represented in Latin as v, a variant of the stem fav- is fau-, as in faustus “favorable,” which may be the source of the recent Word of the Day Faustian, and perhaps as in Faunus, the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Pan. Foehn was first recorded in English in the early 1860s.
For centuries, people in the Alps have attributed health issues, headaches in particular, to the mountain wind known as the Foehn. It is, alpine communities insist, a very special wind, with very special properties …. The issue was recently the subject of an hour-long programme on Swiss radio, during which listeners phoned in to swap symptoms. One woman described feeling low, and having a headache when the Foehn was building up, but then being full of energy when it finally started blowing. A man said he believed the wind was a challenge, in a positive way, because it “shakes us up a bit.”
The foehn has been blowing in the Alps recently, adding insult to a badly injured winter ski season. Snow arrived exceptionally late; in very low-lying resorts nothing fell in December after one of the warmest Novembers on record. Early ski racing fixtures had to be cancelled and, once again, the Alpine winter sports industry is peering out toward a distant horizon, wondering whether this winter is just rotten luck or the harbinger of warm winters to come and a ski industry teetering on the edge of the abyss.
verb (used without object)
to comment or discourse at great length.
Descant “to comment at great length” comes via Anglo-French and Medieval Latin from Latin dis- “apart; utterly” and cantus “song.” Modern Romance languages base their words for “song” (such as French chanson, Italian canzone, and Spanish canción) on Latin cantiō, a derivative of cantus of the same meaning. Cantus is a noun based on the verb canere “to sing,” and as we learned from the related Word of the Day cantillate, the verbal stem cant- is found today in music- and lyric-related terms such as canticle, cantor, and incantation. Through a process called dissimilation, which we learned about from the recent Word of the Day porphyry, when can(ere) is joined with the noun-forming suffix -men, the expected result “canmen” instead becomes carmen “song, magical formula,” which is the source of charm. Descant was first recorded in English in the late 14th century.
Kahéle patronized me extensively. I was introduced to camp after camp, and in rapid succession repeated the experiences of a traveler who has much to answer for in the way of colour, and the peculiar cut of his garments. I felt as though I was some natural curiosity, in charge of the robustious Kahéle, who waxed more and more officious every hour of his engagement; and his tongue ran riot as he descanted upon my characteristics, to the joy of the curious audiences we attracted …. The boy sat near me, still descanting upon our late experiences, our possible future, and the thousand trivial occurrences that make the recollections of travel forever charming.
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