Word of the Day

Word of the day


[ stee-vi-dawr, -dohr ] [ ˈsti vɪˌdɔr, -ˌdoʊr ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a firm or individual engaged in the loading or unloading of a vessel.

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More about stevedore

Stevedore “an individual who loads and unloads a vessel” is an Americanism adapted from Spanish estibador “dock worker, longshoreman,” which is based on the Spanish verb estibar “to pack, stow, cram.” Estibar, from Latin stīpāre “to stuff, pack tightly,” reflects a common sound change between Latin and some modern Romance languages: voiceless consonants (p, t, c) that are intervocalic, or appear between vowels, often become voiced, or pronounced with vibrations in the vocal chords (b, d, g). One of the best examples of this is Latin apothēca “shop, storehouse,” which voiced its voiceless consonants—and eventually dropped the initial a—to become Spanish bodega “wine cellar.” Stevedore was first recorded in English in the 1780s.

how is stevedore used?

[Naomi] Cain is part of nine Indigenous sailors, descendants of Indigenous Australians, on the 11-person crew sailing the Beneteau 47.7 Marguerite. She’s worked alongside boats as a stevedore for nearly 18 years, moving cargo on and off container ships with a forklift. Sailing, however, is uncharted waters.

John Clarke, “For the Sydney Hobart, an Indigenous Crew Puts to Sea,” New York Times, December 23, 2019

Around that time in Arles, on the Rhône River in what is now southern France, the stevedores did things a bit differently: They threw their empties into the river. Arles in the first century was the thriving gateway to Roman Gaul. Freight from all over the Mediterranean was transferred there to riverboats, then hauled up the Rhône by teams of men to supply the northern reaches of the empire, including the legions manning the German frontier.

Robert Kunzig, “Romans in France,” National Geographic, April 2014
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[ kou-moh-jee ] [ kaʊˈmoʊ dʒi ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a Japanese-style emoticon that uses Japanese characters, Latin letters, and punctuation marks in combination to represent a facial expression that conveys an emotion.

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More about kaomoji

Kaomoji “a Japanese-style emoticon” is a loanword from Japanese that is a compound of kao “face” and moji “(written) character.” Moji is an example of Sino-Xenic vocabulary, which refers to the hundreds of words that originated in Middle Chinese (compare Sino-) and were exported to foreign languages (compare xeno-) such as Japanese, as we can also see in the recent Words of the Day matcha, waka, and keiretsu. The moji element in kaomoji (as well as emoji) is therefore related to Mandarin wénzì and Cantonese manzi “writing, language.” A common misconception is that emoji and emoticon are related, but the resemblance is a coincidence; emoji is a compound of Japanese e “picture” and moji, while emoticon is a portmanteau of emotion and icon. Kaomoji was first recorded in English in the late 1980s.

how is kaomoji used?

Of course, emoji weren’t the first attempt to add an emotional layer. Before emoji there were kaomoji–those looked kinda like this: ╮( ̄~ ̄)╭, (o_O), and (=`ω´  =). And before that there were emoticons :-). Both were created to add emotional context. Cute and creative, but those older forms require a lot of typing, which on phones means tapping, which in the 1990s meant pecking at numeral buttons.

Nick Stockton, “Emoji—Trendy Slang or a Whole New Language?” Wired, June 24, 2015

Unlike better-known emoticons like :) or ;), ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ borrows characters from the Japanese syllabary called katakana. That makes it a kaomoji, a Japanese emoticon; it also makes it, on Western alphabetical keyboards at least, very hard to type. But then I found a solution, and it saves me having to google “smiley sideways shrug” every time I want to quickly rail at the world’s inherent lack of meaning.

Robinson Meyer, “The Best Way to Type ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” The Atlantic, May 21, 2014
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Word of the day


[ trahy-nuh-ree ] [ ˈtraɪ nə ri ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


consisting of three parts, or proceeding by three; ternary.

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More about trinary

Trinary “consisting of three parts” is equivalent to Latin trīnī “by threes” plus the suffix -ārius “-ary,” on the pattern of binary. Trīnī is an example of a distributive number; while cardinal numbers such as three express amounts and ordinal numbers such as third express place in a series (and, in English, often fractions), distributive numbers such as triply express a quantity at one time. Other types of numbers include adverbial numbers such as thrice, which express a number of times, and multipliers such as triple, which express how many times something is multiplied. Trinary was first recorded in English in the mid-15th century.

how is trinary used?

New data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in northern Chile has probed the gas and dust in a young stellar system, GG Tauri-A some 460 light years away. Here a single star is orbiting some 35 astronomical units (AU) from a pair of stars that also orbit around each other at only 3 to 4 AU separation–it’s a hierarchical trinary star system.

Caleb A. Scharf, “Astrobiology Roundup: Planets, Moons, and Stinky Comets,” Scientific American, October 30, 2014

Because widening the avenues would have required a lengthy and costly expropriation process, the planners came up with a “trinary” system that embraced three parallel thoroughfares: a large central avenue dedicated to two-way rapid-bus traffic (flanked by slow lanes for cars making short local trips) and, a block over on each side, an avenue for fast one-way automobile traffic.

Arthur Lubow, “The Road to Curitiba,” New York Times, May 20, 2007
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