Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

skerrick

[ sker-ik ]

noun

a small piece or quantity; a bit.

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What is the origin of skerrick?

Skerrick, “a small piece or quantity; a bit,” used in the negative, as in “Not a skerrick of work got done,” is a slang term used nowadays mostly in Australia and New Zealand. Skerrick originated in Great Britain in the early 1820s as a slang term for halfpenny. As with most slang terms, the origin of skerrick is obscure: it may be a variant of scuddick, which also dates from the early 1820s, means the same thing as skerrick, and has an equally obscure etymology.

how is skerrick used?

Stuck awkwardly amongst straggly olive trees on the high side of the road winding up from the village to the crest above the sea, the house had not a skerrick of charm.

Robert Dessaix, Corfu: A Novel, 2001

With the Prime Minister last week announcing a four-phase reopening scheme to bring Australia back to normality, a skerrick of hope has blossomed in many hearts. Finally, there is a path forward.

Brendan Leeds, "The hospitality sector is facing a mental health crisis," Smart Company, July 8, 2021

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Word of the day

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

saudade

[ soh-dah-duh ]

noun

a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent.

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What is the origin of saudade?

Portuguese saudade ultimately derives from Latin sōlitāt-, the stem of sōlitās “loneliness, solitude.” (Latin –l– between vowels is lost in Portuguese; Latin –t– between vowels becomes –d– in Portuguese and Spanish.) The original Old Portuguese form soidade was altered to saudade under the influence of the verb saudar “to salute, greet” (from Latin salūtāre “to keep safe, pay one’s respects”). Saudade entered English in the 20th century.

how is saudade used?

Saudade is a bittersweet feeling of longing for a loved person or a place that is gone,” I finally said, as melancholic memories of my beloved ones forcefully surfaced in my mind. “Some people translate it as the love that remains. It is painful, yet you yearn for it because you only feel saudade when you deeply love.”

Beatriz Vasconcellos, "From Hygge To Saudade: The Power of Untranslatable Words," WBUR, January 3, 2021

Many vibes don’t have specific names, but some do. Saudade, the Portuguese word for a bittersweet longing, could count as a vibe.

Kyle Chayka, "TikTok and the Vibes Revival," The New Yorker, April 26, 2021

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Word of the day

Monday, August 09, 2021

hegira

[ hi-jahy-ruh, hej-er-uh ]

noun

any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place.

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What is the origin of hegira?

Hegira, “a flight to a more desirable or safer place,” comes from Medieval Latin hegira, a Latinization of Arabic hijrah “emigration, flight, departure,” a derivative of the verb hajara “he departed.” Hijrah specifically refers to the flight of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina to escape persecution in July c.e. 622. The Arabic form hijrah (more fully al hijrat) for Muslims marks the beginning of the Muslim Era. Hegira entered English in the late 16th century; the spelling hijra in the late 19th.

how is hegira used?

After The San Francisco News assigned [John] Steinbeck to write a series about the pathetic living conditions of the Dust Bowl refugees in California’s San Joaquin Valley, he actively began The Grapes of Wrath, his touching 1939 novel about the hegira of these Oklahoma sharecroppers.

Brenda Wineapple, "John Steinbeck, Bard of the American Worker," New York Times, October 6, 2020
[T. S.] Eliot’s hegira from starchy student to the Nobel laureate who packed out baseball stadiums on an American tour remains one of the most compelling and strange of modern poetic careers.

David Wheatley, "The Poems of T.S. Eliot: The Annotated Text review–a monumental achievement," The Guardian, November 13, 2015

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