• Word of the day
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    Sunday, May 20, 2018

    sub rosa

    adverb [suhb roh-zuh]
    confidentially; secretly; privately.
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    What is the origin of sub rosa?

    The English adverbial phrase sub rosa comes directly from the Latin phrase sub rosā “under the rose,” from the use of a rose suspended from the ceiling of the council chamber during meetings to symbolize the sworn confidence of the participants. This use of the rose is based on the Greek myth that Aphrodite (Latin Venus) gave a rose to her son Eros (Latin Cupid); Eros then gave the rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence and secrets, to ensure that Aphrodite’s dalliances remained hidden. Sub rosa entered English in the 17th century.

    How is sub rosa used?

    He was too impatient. He should've worked sub rosa, built a wider network of supporters; and he should not have struck openly. Michael Flynn, In the Lion's Mouth, 2011

    Besides the pleasure of a newly acquired possession, there is an agreeable feeling of having bought it sub rosa. Daniele Varè, Maker of Heavenly Trousers, 1935

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, May 19, 2018

    omnifarious

    adjective [om-nuh-fair-ee-uhs]
    of all forms, varieties, or kinds.
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    What is the origin of omnifarious?

    English omnifarious comes from the Late Latin adjective omnifarius “of all sorts.” The combining form omni- in omnifarious is completely naturalized in English and needs no explanation. The element -farious comes from the Latin combining form -fārius, -farius, which is used to form multiplicative adjectives (e.g., twofold, threefold, simplex, duplex) and is a back formation from the Late Latin adjective bifārius “twofold, double,” in turn derived from the Latin adverb bifāriam “in two parts or places.” Omnifarious entered English in the 17th century.

    How is omnifarious used?

    ... these essays in Mr. Trilling's new book all aim directly or indirectly at the central suppositions of our omnifarious 20th-century culture. Robie Macauley, "From the Particular to the Universal," New York Times, November 14, 1965

    The point here is all these other “platforms” offer but a fraction of the omnifarious ~500 product and services that Google subsidizes to offer for free in “competition” with mostly fee-based proprietary platform products and services. Scott Cleland, "Why Google's Not a 'Platform,'" Forbes, October 19, 2011

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  • 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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