Word of the Day

Friday, June 21, 2019

summer

[ suhm-er ]

noun

a principal beam or girder, as one running between girts to support joists.

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What is the origin of summer?

The rare noun summer “horizontal supporting beam” comes from Old French somier, sommier, which had the semantic development “packhorse,” then “a pack, a load,” and finally “a beam, a joist.” The Old French forms come from the Late Latin (c600) adjective saumārius, a variant of Late Latin (c300) sagmārius “pertaining to a packsaddle” (equus sagmārius means “packhorse”). Sagmārius derives from Late Latin (late 4th century) sagma (inflectional stem sagmat-) “packsaddle,” a loanword from Greek ságma “covering, clothing,” later also “packsaddle.” Finally, the derivative noun saumatārius (sagmatārius) “driver of a packhorse” comes into English (via Old French sommetier) as sumpter “packhorse, mule.” Summer entered English in the 14th century.

how is summer used?

The summer was a heavy beam spanning the middle of a large room … and it served as an intermediate support for the floor joists of the story above ….

Hugh Morrison, Early American Architecture, 1952

The cross beams were known as girders, summers or somers, and dormants: one of them carried the chimney, and so was called the “bressummer,” that is the breast girder.

C. F. Innocent, The Development of English Building Construction, 1916
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Thursday, June 20, 2019

insipience

[ in-sip-ee-uhns ]

noun

Archaic.

lack of wisdom; foolishness.

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What is the origin of insipience?

Insipience “foolishness” comes via Old French from Latin insipientia. The Latin prefix in-, which has a negative or privative force, as in insipientia, is the ordinary Latin development of a reduced form of Proto-Indo-European ne “not,” which is the same source of Germanic (English un-). The Latin stem –sipient– is a reduced and combining form derived from sapientia “reason, soundness of mind, wisdom,” hence insipientia “foolishness, folly, stupidity.” The root word behind sapientia and insipientia is sapere “to taste, taste of, smell of, have good taste, feel, show good sense, be intelligent.” Sapere is the source of Italian sapere, Spanish saber, and French savoir, all meaning “to know.” The Latin noun sapor “flavor, taste, odor, smell” becomes Italian sapore, Spanish sabor, French saveur, and, through French, English savor and its derivative adjective savory. Insipience entered English in the 15th century.

how is insipience used?

Too many prefer the charge of insincerity to that of insipience—Dr. Newman seems not to be of that number.

Charles Kingsley, What, Then, Does Dr. Newman Mean? 1864

It has to be frustrating to know that you’re surrounded by intelligent, earnest individuals who are prone to moments of public insipience, usually when their fingers are on the voting button.

Richard Hellmann, "Plenty of room for city bed tax," The Courier, May 27, 1987
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

shog

[ shog, shawg ]

verb (used without object)

to jog along.

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What is the origin of shog?

The verb (and noun) shog “to shake, jolt, to jog along” is now used mostly in British dialect. The Middle English verb shogge(n) is possibly a variant of shock “to strike, jar” and is probably related to the Old High German noun scoc “a swinging, a swing,” Middle High German schock “a swing, a seesaw,” and Middle Dutch, Dutch schok “a shake, a jolt.” Shog entered English in the early 15th century.

how is shog used?

If you don’t mind I’ll shog on! I’ve got to walk fast now, or Gerda will be worrying.

John Cowper Powys, Wolf Solent, 1929

Then shog along homeward, chat over the fight / And hear in our dreams the sweet music all night.

Charles Kingsley, "Go Hark!" 1856

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