verb (used without object)
to wander aimlessly.
Stravage (also stravaig) “to wander aimlessly” may seem a little odd in its spelling and pronunciation, but the word has a far more familiar (and expensive) relative: extravagant “spending much more than is wise.” The reasoning here is that stravage is formed by shortening the Medieval Latin verb extrāvagarī “to wander out of bounds”—which also came into English as extravagate, of the same meaning—and English extravagant uses a more figurative sense of its Latin source, with the wandering beyond bounds based in finances rather than physically moving around. Latin extrāvagarī is based on extrā “outside” and vagarī “to wander,” which is the root of or related to vague, vagrant, and vagus (the name of a nerve). Stravage was first recorded in English in the first decade of the 19th century.
A buzzard over Ballyowen when I set out from Dualla to Derrynaflan during lockdown and stravaging the roads like an emissary monk intent from Cashel. Beyond Ballinure a sense of the west widening, apparition of stone walls and good land lowering to bad, a bog basin stretched to eternity.
The fact was that one grey Sunday afternoon in the March of that year, I went for a long walk with a friend. I was living in Gray’s Inn in those days, and we stravaged up Gray’s Inn Road …. I don’t think that there was any definite scheme laid down; but we resisted manifold temptations.
to utter a long, wailing cry; howl or screech.
The history of caterwaul “to utter a long, wailing cry” takes us down a bit of a linguistic rabbit hole. The term is a compound of two Middle English words: cater “tomcat” and either wawen “to howl” or waul, a variant of wail “to utter a mournful cry.” Cater is related to modern English cat, but while cat comes from Old English, cater may be a borrowing from Middle Dutch or Low German. While cat and its Germanic cousins (such as German Kater and Katze) are often considered to be early adaptations of Latin cattus “cat” (compare French chat and Spanish gato), an alternative opinion is that all these feline words are examples of a Wanderwort. As we learned from the recent Word of the Day matcha, a Wanderwort is a word that has spread across a long chain of unrelated languages, and this explains why the words for “cat” in languages such as Arabic (qiṭṭ) look familiar even though Arabic and English are not related. Caterwaul was first recorded in English in the late 14th century.
“Call off that dog,” I said warningly to Alexander Abraham …. “Since you’ve brought that cat here you can protect him.” “Oh, it wasn’t for William Adolphus’ sake I spoke,” I said pleasantly. “William Adolphus can protect himself.” William Adolphus could and did. He humped his back, flattened his ears, swore once, and then made a flying leap for Mr. Riley. William Adolphus landed squarely on Mr. Riley’s brindled back and promptly took fast hold, spitting and clawing and caterwauling. You never saw a more astonished dog than Mr. Riley.
a temple or sacred building, usually a pyramidlike tower and typically having upward-curving roofs over the individual stories.
Pagoda “a temple or sacred building with upward-curving roofs” is an adaptation of Portuguese pagode “temple,” which is of uncertain origin, but there are two prevailing hypotheses. The first is a derivation from classical Persian butkada, in which but (modern Persian bot) means “idol” and derives from Buddha (that is, Sanskrit buddha “awakened”), while kada (modern Persian kade) is a noun of place variously meaning “temple, dwelling, village.” The second explanation is a connection to pagavadi (or pakavati) in Tamil, a language of Sri Lanka and southern India, and the term is borrowed from Sanskrit bhagavatī “goddess” (distantly related to the recent Words of the Day nebbish and baksheesh). In this way, both explanations for pagoda come back to the purpose of the building: a house for gods. Pagoda was first recorded in English circa 1630.
The Chinese built their pagodas mainly in stone, with inner staircases, and used them as much as watch-towers as for worship. In Japan, however, the architecture was freely adapted to meet the local conditions. The Japanese stuck with wood—and they saw no reason to clutter the design with an inner staircase. The upper floors of a Japanese pagoda serve no practical purpose. Often, in fact, there are not even stairs to them.
Ever since Jūbei received the order, he dedicated his entire being to the pagoda project; at breakfast he ruminated on the pagoda, and in his dreams at night his soul circled the top of its nine-ringed spire.
Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox