Word of the Day

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

spondulicks

[ spon-doo-liks ]

noun

Older Slang.

money; cash.

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What is the origin of spondulicks?

Spondulicks “money, cash” was originally an American slang term, never very common, that emigrated to England and Ireland. It has no certain, agreed-upon etymology, but a Greek origin sphóndylos (later also spóndylos) “vertebra, cervical vertebra” has been suggested (from the supposed resemblance of vertebrae to a stack of coins). Huck Finn uses spondulicks in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, chapter 13 (1884): “I’m derned if I’d live two mile out o’ town, where there ain’t nothing ever goin’ on, not for all his spondulicks and as much more on top of it,” but the word had already existed in American English for several decades. Spondulicks also occurs in one of James Joyce’s short stories, “Ivy Day in the Committee Room,” in the Dubliners (1914). Spondulicks survived among Irish Americans in New York City into the early 1950s. Spondulicks entered American English in the 1850s.

how is spondulicks used?

I need to make a dramatic gesture, and for that I need spondulicks.

Ben Schott, Jeeves and the King of Clubs, 2018

Surely no bottom-line sharpie would cough up that kind of spondulicks for ad time after the first few minutes of a show that customarily had all America groaning with boredom before the first 40 commercials had blasted the parlor.

Russell Baker, "Right After This Shark," New York Times, January 29, 1986
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Monday, August 05, 2019

intellection

[ in-tl-ek-shuhn ]

noun

the action or process of understanding; the exercise of the intellect; reasoning.

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What is the origin of intellection?

In Latin intellectiō (stem intellectiōn-), literally “understanding,” originally meant only synecdoche “a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part.” In Late Latin intellectiō acquired the further senses “an act or the faculty of understanding, intellect, idea, notion,” and in Old French and Middle English “understanding, comprehension, meaning, purpose.” Intellection entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is intellection used?

I arranged my face into a look of intense concentration, a look that implied I’d had a lightning flash of intellection ….

Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station, 2011

Right or wrong, agree or disagree, Hitchens “made intellection dramatic,” as his friend Martin Amis said.

David Remnick, "Remembering Christopher Hitchens," The New Yorker, April 20, 2012
Sunday, August 04, 2019

stolid

[ stol-id ]

adjective

not easily stirred or moved mentally; unemotional; impassive.

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What is the origin of stolid?

The English adjective stolid is a back formation from the noun stolidity, which comes from Middle French stolidite and Latin stoliditās (stem stoliditāt-) “brutish insensibility, stupidity.” Stoliditās is a derivative of the adjective stolidus “dull, stupid, brutish” and is related to stultus “stupid, dense, slow-witted.” Samuel Johnson has the headword stolidity in his Dictionary (1755) but not stolid. Stolid begins to become popular in the first half of the 19th century, in the works of Sir Walter Scott. Stolid entered English about 1600.

how is stolid used?

What I required was something cheap and small and hardy, and of a stolid and peaceful temper; and all these requisites pointed to a donkey.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, 1879

David Harbour, the stolid and familiar presence from Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” is given the opportunity to cut loose here with a broad, loopy half-hour that feels a bit like one long comedy sketch, with all that implies.

Daniel D'Addario, "TV Review: 'Frankenstein's Monster's Monster, Frankenstein'," Variety, July 16, 2019

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