prepared with mixed vegetables, as with water chestnuts, mushrooms, and bean sprouts.
Subgum “prepared with mixed vegetables,” despite its appearance, is not based on Latin sub “under” and English gum. Rather, subgum is adapted from Cantonese sahp-gám “assorted,” cognate with Mandarin shíjǐn. The literal definition of sahp-gám is “ten brocades,” from sahp (Mandarin shí) “ten” and gám (Mandarin jǐn) “brocade.” One of the many differences between how Cantonese and Mandarin are romanized in English is how tones are indicated. While Mandarin is romanized in the pinyin system using diacritics such as macrons (ā) and acute marks (á), tones in Cantonese are often indicated in English through the use of superscript numbers. Subgum was first recorded in English in the late 1930s.
Numerous one-pint boxes of Chinese takeout stood on the kitchen table. Foo yung loong har, which was lobster omelet with chopped onion. Subgum chow goong yue chu—fried scallops with mixed vegetables …. There were noodles and rice. Jane ate a little of the latter, none of the former, but indulged in every variety of protein.
“Hey, waiter!” called out the man in booth four. “We ordered subgum chow mein.” He lifted the lid off. “This is shrimp chow mein.” He replaced the metal lid quickly and looked up at Ben Loy, who meekly took the dish away.
a covered portico, as a promenade.
Xyst “a covered portico” derives via Latin xystus “garden terrace, shaded walk” from Ancient Greek xystós, which as a noun means “a covered colonnade” and as an adjective means “scraped, polished, smoothed.” Xystós comes from the verb xýein “to scrape, polish,” which is of uncertain origin but may be related to Latin novācula and Sanskrit kṣurá, both “razor” (compare Spanish navaja and Hindi churā). Note that, despite the spelling similarity, xyst is not related to xýlon “wood,” which is the source of terms such as xylophone. Xyst was first recorded in English circa 1660.
A few years ago I visited the wonderful city of Bologna, and was struck there particularly by the astonishing 3,796-metre-long portico of San Luca that links the city to the top of the Colle della Guardia high above it, and its magnificent basilica. Even a short stretch of this architectural gem is sufficient to give an impression of what a xyst … would have looked like, for the term denotes a long portico, especially one used in ancient Greece for athletics.
Veering ever onward, I try to shut my ears to the tumult et cetera. Will you glide a little way with me, ransack the dips for freshwater? If these jaunts were through xysts lined with trees—something fragrant like linden, like fireflower—perhaps yaw velocity might compute differently. Perhaps the wandering body that’s forgotten what zero motion might sight at last a distant ring of islands, a cliff of chalky white in the final mile.
having a glutinous consistency; sticky; adhesive.
Viscid “having a glutinous consistency” derives from Latin viscum “mistletoe” and the adjectival suffix -idus. We’re sorry to burst your bubble, but despite mistletoe’s common association with romance and cheerful celebrations, it is in fact a parasitic plant that attaches itself to host trees and drains them of their nutrients. Mistletoe is also known for its sticky seeds, which are coated in a substance called viscin that can be repurposed into a material called birdlime, the avian equivalent of flypaper. Be careful not to confuse viscum with viscus (stem viscer-) “internal organ,” which is the source of visceral and eviscerate; the two words, though nearly identical, are not related. Viscid was first recorded in English circa 1630.
Dr. Cruger saw a “continual procession” of bees thus crawling out of their involuntary bath. The passage is narrow, and is roofed over by the column, so that a bee, in forcing its way out, first rubs its back against the viscid stigma and then against the viscid glands of the pollen-masses. The pollen-masses are thus glued to the back of the bee which first happens to crawl out through the passage of a lately expanded flower, and are thus carried away.
The viscid layer of smoke that had draped itself over much of southern British Columbia has slowly begun to dissipate thanks to a blast of cool Pacific air. The air quality was so bad in Victoria, Vancouver and surrounding environs on the weekend and into Monday… that people with underlying health conditions were urged to stay inside. Smoke caused by the historic wildfires raging south of the border blocked out the sun, helping cast an apocalyptic orange hue over the entire region.
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