Word of the Day

Friday, May 22, 2020

soupçon

[ soop-sawn, soop-sawn ]

noun

a slight trace, as of a particular taste or flavor.

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What is the origin of soupçon?

To the Frenchless, soupçon looks as if it means “soupspoon.” In fact soupçon means “a hint, trace,” from Old French soupeçon, souspeçon, literally “suspicion, anxious worry,” from Late Latin suspectiōn– (stem of suspectiō), for Latin suspīciōn– “distrust, mistrust, suspicion.” Soupçon entered English in the 18th century.

how is soupçon used?

First, she repeated it rapturously in an enthusiastic contralto with a soupçon of Southern accent … 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, 1920

big summer movies, even the successful ones, are designed to be forgettable, passing through our system at precisely the same rate as a pint of Pepsi. Nothing is left but fizzing nerve ends and a sugary soupçon of rot.

Anthony Lane, "Men at Sea," The New Yorker, May 28, 2007

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

jawbone

[ jaw-bohn ]

verb (used with or without object)

to attempt to influence or pressure by persuasion rather than by the exertion of force or one's authority, as in urging voluntary compliance with economic guidelines.

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What is the origin of jawbone?

The slang use of jawbone, “to attempt to influence or pressure by persuasion rather than by force or authority as in urging voluntary compliance with economic guidelines,” originated in the U.S. Students of political history will associate it Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was a master of jawboning when he was Senate majority leader. Jawbone, a compound of jaw and bone meaning “a bone of the jaw,” entered English in the late 15th century.

how is jawbone used?

Johnson had a legendary ability to “jawbone” members of Congress into accepting his positions ….

Donald M. Snow, Patrick J. Haney, U. S. Foreign Policy: Back to the Water's Edge, 5th edition, 2018

And if we think one goes too far, we initially try to jawbone the governors into rolling them back or adjusting them.

Attorney General William Barr, as reported in, "Lawsuits Pile Up Against Coronavirus," Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2020

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

eftsoons

[ eft-soonz ]

adverb

Archaic.

soon after.

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What is the origin of eftsoons?

For some of us, our first (and only) encounter with eftsoons is in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), line 12, to be exact (if you get that far): “Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!” Eftsoons his hand dropt he.” Eftsoons (also eftsoon), a very rare word, is a compound of the archaic adverb eft “again, a second time” and the adverb soon, expanded by the adverbial genitive -s (as in backwards and forwards). Eftsoons entered English before 1000.

how is eftsoons used?

Eftsoons he made known his wants to the churl behind the desk, who was named Gogyryan. And thus he spake: “Any rooms?”

Robert Benchley, "Suppressing 'Jurgen,'" Love Conquers All, 1922

I am of this mind with Homer, that as the snail that crept out of her shell was turned eftsoons into a toad, and thereby was forced to make a stool to sit on disdaining her own house, so the traveller that straggleth from his own country is in short time transformed into so monstrous a shape that he is fain to alter his mansion with his manners, and to live where he can, not where he would.

John Lyly, Euphes and His England, 1580, edited by Leah Scragg, 2003

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