Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, August 21, 2020

sobriquet

[ soh-bruh-key, -ket, soh-bruh-key, -ket; French saw-bree-ke ]

noun

a nickname.

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What is the origin of sobriquet?

Sobriquet (also spelled soubriquet), “a nickname,” has an uncertain origin. Most likely it comes from French sobriquet “nickname,” from Middle French soubriquet, also soubzbriquet “a jest or quip”; also “a chuck under the chin, a gentle tap under the chin.” The only recognizable part of soubzbriquet is soubz, sous, from Latin sub “under.” It is possible that the second element is Middle French briquet, also brichet, bruchet, “breast of an animal, cut of meat,” English brisket. Sobriquet entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is sobriquet used?

And never mind the “Greedy McCreadie” sobriquet bestowed on him by former colleagues and workers who testify, with full mockumentary gravitas, to his lack of character.

Ella Taylor, "'Greed': A Scabrous Satire Of A Megalomaniacal Mogul," NPR, February 27, 2020

As with most memorable nicknames, there’s a story behind it: Hya was the sobriquet that stuck after my siblings and I tested out various permutations of Hyderabad, the city she lived in, and a place I thought of as home.

Sarah Khan, "Return to Hyderabad," New York Times, April 21, 2020

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Word of the day

Thursday, August 20, 2020

comity

[ kom-i-tee ]

noun

mutual courtesy; civility.

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What is the origin of comity?

Comity comes from Latin comitās (stem comitāt-) “friendliness, consideration, graciousness,” a derivative of the adjective cōmis “kind, obliging.” Cōmis perhaps comes from earlier cosmis, which occurs only once, in an inscription. If so, the syllable –smi– comes from the Proto-Indo-European root (s)mei-, (s)mei-, (s)mi– “to laugh, smile, wonder at,” which supplies Greek philommeidḗs (from philo-smeides) “laughter-loving,” a Homeric epithet of Aphrodite. (S)mei– yields Latin mīrus ”extraordinary, remarkable (usually in the good sense),” the verb mīrārī “to be surprised, amazed; look in awe or wonder at” (the source of Spanish mirar “to look at”). Also, in German komisch means “comic” and colloquially “strange, funny.” (S)mei– appears in the Germanic languages as smīlan, English smile. Comity entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is comity used?

the funeral underscored how Mr. Lewis believed that his decades-long civil rights fight could be waged in a spirit of comity—and with a belief that the American project was not fatally flawed, but perfectible in the hands of a citizenry willing to go to the polls and engage in nonviolent protest.

Richard Fausset and Rick Rojas, "John Lewis, a Man of 'Unbreakable Perseverance,' Is Laid to Rest," New York Times, July 30, 2020

I believe I had no money to buy them, but there was an open account, or a comity, between the printer and the bookseller, and I must have been allowed a certain discretion in regard to getting books.

William Dean Howells, "Shakespeare," My Literary Passions, 1895

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Word of the day

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

zhuzh

[ zhoozh ]

verb

to make (something) more lively and interesting, stylish, or appealing, as by a small change or addition (usually followed by up): These colorful throw pillows are an easy way to zhuzh up your living room.

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What is the origin of zhuzh?

Zhuzh (also spelled zhoosh) as a verb means “to make (something) more lively, interesting, and stylish.” It is a fairly recent slang term, first appearing in the mid-1960s in gay communities in the U.K. in the sense “to improve the look of one’s clothing or outfit”; its current, more general sense dates from the mid-70s. The source of zhuzh, as with most slang terms, is problematic: zhuzh may be purely onomatopoeic, representing the sound of someone rushing around; it may be from Polari, a kind of British slang derived largely from Italian and used since the 18th century among theatrical and circus performers and in some gay and lesbian communities; finally, zhuzh may be from Romani zhouzhou “clean, neat.”

how is zhuzh used?

But don’t just throw some cooked rice into the bottom of a bowl! You’ve got to zhuzh it up before you pile on everything else so that every element is packed with flavor.

Kari Sonde, "Start your grain bowl right with these 5 jazzy rice recipes," Washington Post, August 1, 2019

First up was hairdressing icon Jonathan Van Ness, who wanted to keep the spirit of Gritty — but just zhuzh it up a bit.

James Dator, "Everything about Gritty getting a makeover on Queer Eye is good," SBNation.com, July 1, 2020

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