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[ sweyn ] [ sweɪn ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a male admirer or lover.

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More about swain

Swain “a male admirer” comes by way of Middle English swein “servant” from Old Norse sveinn “boy, servant.” Linguists consider the earliest sense of sveinn and its relatives in other Germanic languages to have been “one’s own (man)”; a similar shift in meaning appears with swami, from Sanskrit svāmī “master, owner,” which may have originally meant “one’s own (master).” Both swain and swami come from a root meaning “one’s, oneself” that also appears in self and sibling. Today, swain can be found in the nautical-themed compounds boatswain and coxswain (pronounced a little counterintuitively as “boh-suhn” and “kok-suhn”). Swain was first recorded in English before 1150. For more love-related terms, check out past Words of the Day inamorata, turtledove, and jo!

how is swain used?

Undeterred by the fact that her mate is under a spell that makes him a swine by day and a swain by night, Flora falls in love with him and, when he is abducted by a wicked old woman, she goes in ardent galactic pursuit of him, aided by the sun, moon and north wind.

Michael Billington, “The Enchanted Pig,” The Guardian, December 15, 2006

If this love-sick swain and innocent lass, hardening their hearts against each other, could have peeped into the secret drawer in a certain specialist’s office in Mt. Clare, they would have lost no time in apologizing for a misunderstanding for which neither was to blame.

J. McHenry Jones, Hearts of Gold, 1896
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chaise longue

[ sheyz lawng, cheyz ] [ ˌʃeɪz ˈlɔŋ, ˌtʃeɪz ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a chair, with or without arms, for reclining, having a seat lengthened to form a complete leg rest and sometimes an adjustable back.

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More about chaise longue

Chaise longue “a chair with a lengthened seat for reclining” is a loanword from French, in which it means “long chair.” A common practice among English speakers is to say “chaise lounge,” which is the result of confusing French longue “long” with English lounge “to rest lazily.” While chaise longue and lounge chair are both considered standard, “chaise lounge” is gaining in popularity. French chaise is a Paris-area dialectal variant of the original chaire (adapted into English as chair); unlike rhotacism, which changes s (or z) to r, Parisian French frequently used to change r to s. The ultimate origin of French chaise is Ancient Greek kathédra “seat, chair,” which is also the source of English cathedral. Chaise longue was first recorded in English in the 1790s.

how is chaise longue used?

No piece of furniture says ‘me time’ quite like a chaise longue. With its reclined back and elevated feet, it offers the promise of serenity in a package designed for just one person …. A chaise longue is ideal in a library, a corner of the master bedroom or an alcove off the living room. And because it usually sits by itself, it can be more sculptural than other pieces of furniture.

Tim McKeough, “Shopping for a Chaise Longue,” The New York Times, December 30, 2019

A well-known example of a piece of furniture that remains steeped in its history, frequently seen in contemporary homes for its anachronistic quality, is the chaise longue (or recamier). Despite its initial popularity in 16th-century France, the elegant silhouette of a chaise longue complete with its twisted, low backrest and detailed feet can be found in many sofa retailers today.

Anya Cooklin-Lofting, “Why forgotten furniture is having a revival,” The Independent, January 24, 2021
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[ faw-nuh ] [ ˈfɔ nə ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


the animals of a given region or period considered as a whole.

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More about fauna

Fauna “the animals of a given region as a whole” is an example of a collective noun, a noun that typically appears as singular but refers to a group of persons or objects. Common collective nouns in English also include couple, government, jury, population, and team, all of which refer to groups of people even when the nouns themselves are singular. Unlike mass nouns such as electricity, furniture, and sadness, collective nouns can use the indefinite article a (or an) and numbers; we may say a team or two couples but not an electricity or two furnitures. Fauna is the namesake of the rural Roman goddess Fauna, the feminine counterpart of the forest god Faunus. These two Latin names may come from the verb favēre “to favor,” which would make them potential relatives of the recent Words of the Day Faustian and foehn. Fauna was first recorded in English circa 1770.

how is fauna used?

No complex animals prowled the seas of the Ediacaran Period. Instead, the depths held microbial mats and strange, frond-like creatures that resembled nothing alive today. Paleontologists have suggested that this was a sort of Garden of Eden, a simple ecosystem wiped away by the more vibrant fauna of the following Cambrian Period.

Asher Elbein, “600 Million Years Ago, the First Scavengers Lurked in Dark Ocean Gardens,” The New York Times, November 30, 2018

Bacteria are typically a few millionths of a metre long. To them, a human mouth is an entire world. The tongue, teeth, and gums are all very different habitats, each with their own fauna. There are even differences between the microbes below and above the gum line of a single tooth.

Ed Yong, “The Forest In Your Mouth,” National Geographic, January 25, 2016
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