Word of the Day

Sunday, August 02, 2020

sororal

[ suh-rawr-uhl, -rohr- ]

adjective

of, relating to, or characteristic of a sister or sisters; sisterly.

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What is the origin of sororal?

Sororal means simply “relating to one’s sister or sisters; sisterly.” It derives from the Latin noun soror “sister” and the English adjective suffix -al, which ultimately comes from the Latin suffix -ālis. Soror comes from Proto-Indo-European swésor- “sister,” in Latin going through the stages from swesor to swosor to sworor to soror. Swésor- appears in Sanskrit as svásar-, in Greek as éor (Greek from preliterate times has had trouble with initial and intervocalic s and w, let alone the cluster sw-, all of which usually became h in classical Greek and disappeared in Hellenistic and later Greek). The form swésōr becomes siur in Old Irish and chwaer in Welsh. The Germanic variant swestar yields Gothic swistar, Old Norse systir, which influenced Old English sweostor and suster to become English sister. Sororal entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is sororal used?

Greta Gerwig’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s novel is intelligent and fleet, refreshing if not radical, and as organic in its feminist convictions as it is in its depiction of close-knit sororal love.

Philippa Snow, "The Reinvention of Little Women," The New Republic, January 1, 2020

Eva Kor describes having the same sort of sororal telepathy with her twin, Miriam Czaigher. … each seemed to know when the other was in special need.

Winifred Gallagher, "To the Manner Born," Rolling Stone, November 19, 1987

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Saturday, August 01, 2020

bonanza

[ buh-nan-zuh, boh- ]

noun

a source of great and sudden wealth or luck; a spectacular windfall: The play proved to be a bonanza for its lucky backers.

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What is the origin of bonanza?

Bonanza is a Mexican Spanish noun that entered American English in the early 1840s. In Spanish bonanza means “fair, calm weather (for sailing); prosperity.” Bonanza is a nasalized variant of Vulgar and Medieval Latin bonacia, bonatzia “calm sea,” which is a blend of the Latin adjective bon(us) “good” and Medieval Latin (mal)acia “calm sea,” from Greek malakía “softness.” Bonanza, with a transferred sense “rich vein of ore,” was first applied to the gold mines of Placer County, California (1844), and the silver mines of the Comstock Lode, Nevada (1859).

how is bonanza used?

After Stevie Wonder appeared in a segment, one of his greatest-hits albums jumped to the top of the U.K. iTunes charts, turning “Carpool Karaoke” into a promotional bonanza.

Michael Schulman, "James Cordon's Do-Over," The New Yorker, January 27, 2020

Over the next three weeks they picked up four new clients, a bonanza by Harvey’s standards.

Jonathan Dee, A Thousand Pardons, 2013

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Friday, July 31, 2020

obfuscate

[ ob-fuh-skeyt, ob-fuhs-keyt ]

verb (used with object)

to make obscure or unclear: to obfuscate a problem with extraneous information.

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What is the origin of obfuscate?

The verb obfuscate comes from Late Latin (especially Christian Latin) offuscāt(us), also obfuscāt(us), the past participle of offuscāre (obfuscāre), literally “to darken, obscure.” Offuscāre is a compound of the preposition and prefix ob, of– “toward, against,” also used as an intensive prefix, as here, and the verb fuscāre “to make dark, become dark.” The Latin root word is the adjective fuscus “dark, somber, dim, drab.” Fuscus is possibly related to Old English dox, dosc “dark,” source of the English noun and adjective dusk. Obfuscate entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is obfuscate used?

Of course all this talk of carbon emissions obfuscates the other significant dangers associated with the nuclear cycle.

Mark Dowie, "Nuclear Caribou," Orion, January/February 2009

But it will take moral clarity, which will require both editors and reporters to stop doing things like reflexively hiding behind euphemisms that obfuscate the truth, simply because we’ve always done it that way.

Wesley Lowery, "A Reckoning Over Objectivity, Led by Black Journalists," New York Times, June 23, 2020

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