Word of the Day

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

snarf

[ snahrf ]

verb (used with object)

Slang.

to eat quickly and voraciously; scarf (often followed by down or up).

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What is the origin of snarf?

Snarf, “to eat greedily or voraciously,” is a slang word, originally American, and like many if not most slang terms, it has an obscure etymology. Some authorities claim snarf to be a variant of scarf “to eat greedily,” or a combination of the verbs snort and scarf. Snarf is just as likely to be onomatopoeic, as of the sound of pigs feeding at a trough. Snarf entered English in the late 1960s.

how is snarf used?

“My kids snarf these like candy,” he said.

Matt Lee and Ted Lee, "The Industry: Killer Tomatoes," New York Times Magazine, August 28, 2005

We don’t just snarf down the Hershey bars and gummy bears directly from the bag. We pour ourselves a glass of wine as well ….

Chris Morris, "The Wines That Pair Best With Your Kids' Halloween Candy," Fortune, October 31, 2019
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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

benignity

[ bih-nig-ni-tee ]

noun

a good deed or favor; an instance of kindness: benignities born of selfless devotion.

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What is the origin of benignity?

Benignity comes via Old and Middle French from the Latin noun benignitās (inflectional stem benignitāt-) “kindness, graciousness, friendliness,” a derivative of the adjective benignus “kind, gracious, benign.” Benignus is composed of the adverb bene “well, neatly, rightly” (from the adjective bonus “good”) and –gnus, a suffix derived from the base of the verb gignere “to beget” (the sense is “good by nature, naturally good”; consider its English opposite, malign). Benignity entered English in the second half of the 14th century.

how is benignity used?

… there are young men and maidens pacing to and fro beside me, and to them the moon is only one of the innumerable benignities with which nature smiles on youth and love.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Studies in Romance, 1873

with a thousand generous benignities she stifled my ‘no’s,’ … and all I had breath to say at last, was, that ‘there was time enough for plans of that kind.’

Elizabeth Barrett Barrett to Robert Browning, April 28, 1846, The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, Vol. 2, 1898
Monday, December 02, 2019

existential

[ eg-zi-sten-shuhl, ek-si- ]

adjective

of or relating to existence: Does climate change pose an existential threat to humanity?

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What is the origin of existential?

Existential comes from Late Latin existentiālis “relating to existence,” an adjective form of ex(s)istentia “existence, state of existing, something that exists.” Ex(s)istentia is in turn based on classical Latin ex(s)istere “to exist, appear, emerge,” a verb composed of the prefix ex- “out of” and sistere “to stand, cause to stand, stop, set up.” In its first sense “of or relating to existence,” as in “The economic downturn posed an existential threat to small businesses,” existential is recorded in English in the mid-1600s. The second sense of existential, “of, relating to, or characteristic of philosophical existentialism; concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual’s freely made choices,” is found by the late 1800s. Existentialism comes from German Existentialismus, coined in 1919. It is a movement closely associated with such philosophers as Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger, and stresses the individual’s unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for making meaningful, authentic choices in a universe seen as purposeless or irrational.

Existential is the 2019 Word of the Year.

how is existential used?

I have a dream that the people in power, as well as the media, start treating this crisis like the existential emergency it is.

Greta Thunberg, Testimony to U.S. Congress, September 18, 2019

It is perhaps the darkest of all the existential crises facing the toy characters in these movies, although the film finds a clever way of having him [Forky] embrace his identity as a toy by intersecting it with what he loves about garbage.

Matthew Rozsa, "The beautiful bleakness of the 'Toy Story' movies," Salon, June 22, 2019

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