a person who completely dominates another, usually with selfish or sinister motives.
Two terms survive from George du Maurier’s novel Trilby (1894). The first is Svengali, the evil musician who hypnotizes, controls, and exploits Trilby O’Ferrall, a young Irish girl, and makes her a great singer who is unable to perform without his help. In the stage version of the novel, the actress who played Trilby wore a sort of soft felt hat with an indented crown, now called a trilby or trilby hat. The trilby is now commonly mistaken for a different hat, the fedora. Svengali in its extended sense of “a person who completely dominates another, usually with selfish or sinister motives” is recorded by the early 1900s.
Lou Pearlman, who died on Friday in federal prison in Miami, at the age of sixty-two, was arguably the great pop Svengali of our time.
Though he comes across in his own writings as witty and self-aware, the picture that emerges decades later is of a moody, manipulative Svengali, blinded by his ego to what was really happening on the raft.
appropriate and characteristic even if untrue; happily invented or discovered.
Ben trovato, an Italian phrase meaning “well found,” comes from the sentence Se non è vero, è molto ben trovato “If it isn’t true, it is very well found, happily invented.” The saying seems to have been common in Italy in the 16th century but is especially associated with the pantheistic philosopher (and therefore heretic) and poet Giordano Bruno (1548–1600). Ben trovato entered English in the late 18th century.
There is a story that Nolan met Burr once on one of our vessels, when a party of Americans came on board in the Mediterranean. But this I believe to be a lie; or rather, it is a myth, ben trovato, involving a tremendous blowing-up with which he sunk Burr …
There is, when we are willing to be deceived, but small difference between the “vero” and the “ben trovato“ …
improper use of words; unidiomatic or ungrammatical language.
The noun abusage, a derivative of the verb abuse, has been in English since the mid-16th century, and originally the noun had many of the original senses of the verb: “misuse, ill-use, abuse,” and the still stronger sense “corrupt practices, immoral behavior.” New Zealand-born British lexicographer Eric Partridge (1894–1979) is credited for giving abusage its current meaning “improper use of language” in his Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English (1942).
As a presidential campaign approaches, great rhetorical and metaphoric strain is placed on the language. … Lest this abusage corrupt the young, this department instituted (I started) the scrupulously bipartisan 1988 Hyperbolic and Metaphoric Watch.
Many New Yorkers and New Jerseyites persisted in referring to the agency as the “Port of Authority,” and this abusage long served as a kind of shibboleth for identifying natives of the area.
as; as being; in the character or capacity of: The work of art qua art can be judged by aesthetic criteria only.
The English adverb qua “in the capacity of, as being” comes from the Latin interrogative, relative, and indefinite adverb quā, one of whose many meanings is “in the manner in which, as.” In form, quā is the ablative singular feminine of the interrogative and indefinite pronoun and adjective quī, quae (qua), quod, which all but guarantees many syntactic uses. Qua entered English in the mid-17th century.
There is a particular difficulty in discerning whether this book is good, not because the text qua text is somehow elusive or inscrutable but because one struggles to read it without sweeping for psychological clues.
… the privilege that attaches to a client’s confidences to his lawyer is limited to that which is revealed to him in secrecy, only qua lawyer, as distinguished from qua agent or qua negotiator or qua friend.
verb (used without object)
to move in a tumbling, irregular manner, as boiling water.
It is difficult to analyze the parts of popple, and most authorities say “imitative”—of the motion, of the sound, of both? There are possible related words in Frisian popelje “to throb, bubble up” and Dutch popelen “to throb, quiver (with emotion),” and German dialect poppeln “to bubble, bubble up.” Popple in the sense of “to move in a tumbling, irregular manner” entered English by the 15th century.
The breeze had so far raised no more than a little ripple on the water, so that the boat poppled, and thumped gently, as it drifted along, but kept all the time one general course.
The leaves upon the aspen-tree / They poppled in the breeze / And held the drifting harmony / Of music in the trees.
The adjective daedal (also spelled dedal) comes via the Latin adjective daedalus and proper noun Daedalus from the Greek adjective daídalos “skillful, skillfully made” and proper noun Daídalos, the mythical Athenian hero who built the Labyrinth at Knossos for King Minos and was the father of Icarus. Further etymology is unclear: daídalos is likely to be from a pre-Greek language. Daedal entered English in the late 16th century.
After dinner, they took a turn in the garden; where Leontine was surprized [sic] to see how greatly the daedal hand of nature had been improved by the assistance of art.
An unrestrained genius with a daedal mind, Plumer was New Hampshire’s only Jeffersonian.
a person who talks or acts agreeably to someone, in order to keep that person in good humor, especially in the hope of gaining something.
The noun jollier, a derivative of the informal verb jolly “to talk or act agreeably in order to keep someone in good humor, especially in the hope of gaining something,” is an Americanism dating back to the end of the 19th century. If only there were fewer jolliers and “jollyees.”
Certainly he would never dream that a “jollier” could become the leader of a great English political party.
The Jollier jollied Mr. Thompson up and down the sweet nerve of flattery in a manner truly artistic, then came away with a double half column ad.