Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

stownlins

[ stoun-linz ]

adverb

Scot.

secretly; stealthily.

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What is the origin of stownlins?

Scots English has many interesting words, and stownlins is one of them. Stownlins is an adverb meaning “secretly, stealthily.” Stownlins is formed from stown, Scots for English stolen, and the compound adverb suffix -lins, formed from the now rare and dialectal suffix -ling and the adverb suffix -s (as in English always, unawares). Stownlins appears in print in 1786 in a poem by Robert Burns, which guarantees its immortality.

how is stownlins used?

But she my fairest faithfu’ lass / And stownlins we sall meet again.

Robert Burns, "I'll ay ca' in by yon Town," The Scots Musical Museum, Vol. 5, song 458, 1797

An’ stownlins I tak o’ her charms a survey, / For my courage aye fails when to speak to’r I try.

David Anderson, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, 1826

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Word of the day

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

moil

[ moil ]

verb (used without object)

to work hard; drudge.

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What is the origin of moil?

English moil has a number of odd relatives. Middle English mollen “to moisten, soften by wetting” comes from Anglo-French moiller, muiller (Old French moiler “to soak, wet, stain”), from Vulgar Latin molliāre (from Latin mollīre “to soften, relax”), a derivative of mollis “soft, yielding to the touch.” From mollīre Latin derives ēmollīre “to soften, relax, soothe, enervate” (source of English emollient). Late Latin has mollificāre “to soften,” which via Middle French mollifier becomes English mollify. Students of French will recognize the French phonetics term mouillé “palatalized,” literally “wet, moistened.” In Spanish molliāre becomes mojar “to wet, moisten,” whose past participle mojado “wet, moistened” is familiar to many people from the phrase piso mojado “wet floor.” One of the senses of moil “to work hard” dates from the 16th century and is most likely a development of the sense “to make oneself wet, wallow in mire.” The Middle English verb mollen, mullen is the source of the uncommon verb mull, a metallurgical term meaning “to mix clay with sand (to make a mold).” Have we toiled and moiled on the topic enough for today? Moil entered English in the 15th century.

how is moil used?

I shall have to toil and moil all my days, with only little bits of fun now and then, and get old and ugly and sour, because I’m poor, and can’t enjoy my life as other girls do.

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, 1868

Why should he toil and moil, and be at so much trouble to pick himself up out of the mud, when, in a little while hence, the strong arm of his Uncle will raise and support him?

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1850

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Word of the day

Monday, March 09, 2020

hypethral

[ hi-pee-thruhl, hahy- ]

adjective

wholly or partly open to the sky, especially of a classical building; having no roof.

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What is the origin of hypethral?

The uncommon adjective hypethral (also spelled hypaethral) means “open to the sky, not having a roof, uncovered.” The English word comes from the Latin adjective hypaethros; the neuter of the adjective, hypaethron, is used as a noun in Latin meaning “temple open to the sky.” Hypaethros is a borrowing from Greek hypaíthrios (also hýpaithros) “in the open air, in open country,” a compound of the familiar prefix hypo- “under” and the noun aithḗr “the upper air, pure air, ether.” In Greek hýpaithron did not mean “temple open to the sky”; that was a new sense coined by the Roman architect Vitruvius in the first century b.c. Hypaethral entered English in the late-18th century.

how is hypethral used?

One of the noblest effects of interior illumination known in historical art is in the Roman Pantheon, the area of which (140 feet in diameter) is lighted only by the circular hypethral opening 25 feet wide at the apex of the dome.

Henry Van Brunt, "Architecture at the World's Columbian Exposition," The Century, Vol. 44, May–October 1892

It seems probable that to this period must be assigned the famous rock-reliefs at the hypethral sanctuary of Iasily Kaya, near Boghaz-Keui, as well as those at Giaour Kalesi.

Edward Bell, Early Architecture in Western Asia, 1924

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