• Word of the day
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    Friday, May 18, 2018

    spagyric

    adjective [spuh-jeer-ik]
    pertaining to or resembling alchemy; alchemic.
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    What is the origin of spagyric?

    The rare adjective spagyric comes from New Latin spagiricus “alchemical; alchemy; an alchemist” and was first used and probably coined by the Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus (c1493–1541). There is no trustworthy etymology for the word. Spagyric entered English in the late 16th century.

    How is spagyric used?

    He saw the true gold into which the beggarly matter of existence may be transmuted by spagyric art; a succession of delicious moments, all the rare flavours of life concentrated, purged of their lees, and preserved in a beautiful vessel. Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams, 1907

    I fear that many a practitioner of the spagyric art has perished handling it without due respect. Jacqueline Carey, Miranda and Caliban, 2017

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, May 17, 2018

    paraph

    noun [par-uhf, puh-raf]
    a flourish made after a signature, as in a document, originally as a precaution against forgery.
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    What is the origin of paraph?

    A paraph is the flamboyant flourish at the end of a signature to prevent forgery. The most famous and perhaps only paraph familiar to modern Americans is the one at the end of John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence. Paraph comes from Middle French paraphe or paraffe “abbreviated signature,” which is either a shortening of Late Latin paragraphus “a short horizontal line below the beginning of a line and marking a break in the sense,” or Medieval Latin paraphus “a flourish at the end of a signature.” Paraph entered English in the late 14th century.

    How is paraph used?

    Between you and me pivotal affinities occlude such petty tics as my constant distinctive signature with its unforgeable paraph ... Joseph McElroy, Ancient History: A Paraphrase, 1971

    [Frédéric] Chopin signed in a compact and bold hand. His signature exhibits choppy letter construction and is typically finished off with a bold paraph. Ron Keurajian, Collecting Historical Autographs, 2017

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, May 16, 2018

    bezonian

    noun [bih-zoh-nee-uhn]
    Archaic. an indigent rascal; scoundrel.
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    What is the origin of bezonian?

    The root of the archaic English noun bezonian is the Italian noun bisogno “need, lack,” also in the late 16th century, “raw, needy recruit (newly landed in Italy from Spain).” In English bezonian has always had this meaning, but also, by an easy extension, ”poor beggar, indigent rascal.” Bezonian entered English in the late 16th century.

    How is bezonian used?

    Great men oft die by vile bezonians ... William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, 1623

    To Juan, who was nearest him, address'd / His thanks, and hopes to take the city soon / Not reckoning him to be a "base Bezonian" / (As Pistol calls it) but a young Livonian. Lord Byron, Don Juan, 1819–24

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, May 15, 2018

    tempus fugit

    [tem-poos foo-git]
    Latin. time flies.
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    What is the origin of tempus fugit?

    One cannot get more classical than tempus fugit “time flies,” a phrase that occurs in the Georgics, a poem about farming and country life published around 29 b.c. by the Roman poet Vergil (70-19 b.c.). Tempus fugit entered English in the late 18th century.

    How is tempus fugit used?

    Well, tempus fugit; let us be going. We have just an hour to reach our dining-hall. Ruth McEnery Stuart, "Two Gentlemen of Leisure," Moriah's Mourning, 1898

    "Thank you! Thank you!" you call to the woman, "but tempus fugit and to be honest, it's fugiting rather quickly for me at the moment ..." Herbie Brennan, RomanQuest, 2011

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, May 14, 2018

    lollapalooza

    noun [lol-uh-puh-loo-zuh]
    Slang. an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event; an exceptional example or instance.
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    What is the origin of lollapalooza?

    Lollapalooza is an American word of unknown but fanciful origin, used by comic writers and humorists such as S.J. Perelman (1904-79) and P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975). Lollapalooza entered English in the early 20th century.

    How is lollapalooza used?

    Miss Jeynes, that dance was a real lollapalooza. Suzanne North, Flying Time, 2014

    There will be a storm this evening, bet on it. It will be a lollapalooza. Roger Rosenblatt, Lapham Rising, 2006

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, May 13, 2018

    minnie

    noun [min-ee]
    Scot. and North England Informal. mother; mom.
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    What is the origin of minnie?

    The noun minnie is probably baby talk for northern English and Scottish mither “mother” or for mummy (mommy). Minnie is used in northern England and Scotland to mean “(one’s) mother.” Minnie entered English in the 17th century.

    How is minnie used?

    Whare are you gaun, my bonnie lass, Whare are you gaun, my hinnie? She answered me right saucilie, "An errand for my minnie." Robert Burns, "A Waukrife Minnie," 1789

    ... come and wake my minnie to me, for I canna ... S. R. Crockett, Deep Moat Grange, 1908

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, May 12, 2018

    truthiness

    noun [troo-thee-nis]
    the quality of seeming to be true according to one's intuition, opinion, or perception without regard to logic, factual evidence, or the like: the growing trend of truthiness as opposed to truth.
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    What is the origin of truthiness?

    Truthiness in the 19th century meant “truthfulness, veracity”; this sense is rare nowadays. Its current sense, “the quality of seeming to be true according to one's opinion without regard to fact,” was invented by the comedian Stephen Colbert in 2005.

    How is truthiness used?

    Truthiness is "truth that comes from the gut, not books," Colbert said in 2005. Katy Waldman, "The Science of Truthiness," Slate, September 3, 2014

    A Rovian political strategy by definition means all slime, all the time. But the more crucial Rove game plan is to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness. Frank Rich, "Truthiness Stages a Comeback," New York Times, September 20, 2008

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