rambling; confused; nonsensical: a skimble-scamble explanation.
The rare adjective skimble-scamble shows the same, common vowel alteration in a reduplicated word as in mish-mash or pitter-patter. The reduplicated word is the verb scamble, of unknown etymology, and now obsolete or dialectal, meaning “to struggle or scramble with others for food or money tossed to a crowd,” now replaced by scramble. The lexicographer Samuel Johnson was not keen on skimble-scamble, calling it a “cant word,” one of his favorite terms of abuse. Skimble-scamble entered English at the end of the 16th century.
He complained bitterly of his reporters, saying that the skimblescamble stuff which they published would “make posterity think ill of his understanding, and that of his brethren on the bench.”
And such a deal of skimble-skamble stuff, /
As puts me from my faith.
the way a situation, action, event, etc., is perceived by the public or by a particular group of people.
The noun optics originally referred to that branch of physics dealing with light or other electromagnetic radiation and with the sense of sight. The now common sense “the way a situation, action, or event is perceived by the public or in a particular context, especially a political one,” was originally an Americanism first recorded in 1973. Optics entered English in the 16th century.
The sentence has to be in double figures. The optics are lousy if it’s anything less.
For Romney, there is little value in trying to compete with the optics of Obama’s trip.
a person who is physically or spiritually isolated from their times or society.
The rare English noun isolato comes directly from the Italian adjective and noun isolato “isolated; an isolated person.” The Italian word is the past participle of the verb isolare “to shut off, cut off, isolate,” a derivative of the noun isola “isle, island” (there is no Latin verb īnsulāre). Isola is a regular Italian development of Latin īnsula, a noun of unknown etymology, meaning “island, an island as a place of exile, tenement house,” all of which can be pretty bleak. Isolato entered English in the mid-19th century.
… my life has been that of an isolato, a shepherd on a mountaintop, situated as far from so-called civilization as possible, and it has made me unnaturally brusque and awkward.
I’m an isolato now and there’s no going back.
Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox