Word of the Day

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

sojourn

[ soh-jurn ]

noun

a temporary stay: during his sojourn in Paris.

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What is the origin of sojourn?

The noun sojourn means “a temporary stay.” The verb sojourn, “to stay for a time, reside temporarily,” has several dozen Middle English spellings: sojournen, sojourni, suggorn, suggeourn, etc. The Middle English forms derive from equally exuberant Old French forms, for example, sejorner, sojorner, sojourneir, sojurner, and Anglo-French forms, for example, sojurner, sujurner. The French forms derive from an unrecorded Vulgar Latin verb subdiurnāre “to stay for a time,” a compound of the preposition and prefix sub, sub-, here meaning “a little, for a while” and the Latin verb diurnāre “to live for a long time,” a derivative of the Latin adjective diurnus “belonging to the daytime, occurring every day.” Sojourn entered English in the 13th century.

how is sojourn used?

Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed to myself a sojourn of some weeks.

Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, 1839

He begins to conjecture how much he has gained and lost during his long sojourn in the American republic.

James Baldwin, "Encounter on the Seine: Black Meets Brown," Notes of a Native Son, 1955

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

déjà vu

[ dey-zhah voo, vyoo; French dey-zha vy ]

noun

the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time.

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What is the origin of déjà vu?

The late, great social philosopher Lawrence “Yogi” Berra is credited with saying “It’s déjà vu all over again,” referring to Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris constantly hitting back-to-back home runs for the Yankees in the early ’60s. This “Yogi-ism” aside, déjà vu, literally “already seen,” is the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time, a term used in psychology. The phrase is French; it was first used and perhaps coined by Emile Boirac (1851–1917), a French philosopher and parapsychologist. Déjà “already” comes from Old French des ja “from now on”; des comes from Vulgar Latin dex or de ex, a combination of Latin prepositions “of, from” and ex “out, out of.” Ja “now, already,” comes from the Latin adverb jam with the same meaning. Vu comes from Vulgar Latin vidūtus or vedūtus, equivalent to Latin vīsus, past participle of vidēre “to see.” Déjà vu entered English in the early 20th century.

how is déjà vu used?

Trapped in a time loop: That’s how one man felt because of his recurring episodes of deja vu.

Bahar Gholipour, "A strange case of deja vu, again and again and again." Washington Post, January 5, 2015

A person experiencing déjà vu is no more likely to accurately predict what they’re going to see around the next corner than someone who is blindly guessing.

Michelle Starr, "Scientists Have Recreated Déjà Vu in The Lab, And It's Less Spooky Than You'd Think," ScienceAlert, March 6, 2018

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Monday, July 13, 2020

bellicose

[ bel-i-kohs ]

adjective

inclined or eager to fight; aggressively hostile; belligerent; pugnacious.

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What is the origin of bellicose?

Bellicose comes directly from Latin bellicōsus “warlike, fond of war,” ultimately from the noun bellum “war, warfare” and the adjective suffix –ōsus “full of, abounding in,” the source, via Anglo French and Old French, of the English suffixes –ose and –ous. The usual classical form bellum comes from preclassical duellum (the further origin of the noun is unknown), which remained in classical Latin as a poetic and archaic variant of bellum. Duellum in Vulgar and Medieval Latin developed the sense “an arranged combat between two people, according to a code of procedure,” English duel, from a mistaken etymological connection with duo “two.” Bellicose entered English in the second half of the 15th century.

how is bellicose used?

I was always inappropriately dressed, and inappropriately calibrated in tone: In one instance, I was too deferential; in another, too bellicose

Ta-Nehisi Coates, "My President Was Black," The Atlantic, January/February 2017 

Although North Korea has often sounded incorrigibly bellicose, it has proved​ to be a shrewd ​strategist capable of judging when to throttle up the tensions and when to pull back on them.

, "For North Korea, Blowing Hot and Cold Is Part of the Strategy," New York Times, June 24, 2020

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