Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, September 19, 2019

swashbuckler

[ swosh-buhk-ler, swawsh- ]

noun

a swaggering swordsman, soldier, or adventurer; daredevil.

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What is the origin of swashbuckler?

If one is old enough, the word swashbuckler will call to mind Errol Flynn, the baddest, most romantic swashbuckler of them all during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Others may think of the dueling swordsmen from The Princess Bride. Swashbuckler is a compound whose first element is swash, a verb of imitative origin meaning “to splash loudly or violently, dash about.” A buckler is a small round shield held by a handgrip and having straps through which one’s arm is passed. A swashbuckler is a swaggering hero who makes a racket by striking the bad guy’s shield with his own or with his sword. Swashbuckler entered English in the mid-16th century.

how is swashbuckler used?

Even Johnny Depp, the linchpin of the series as the swishy swashbuckler Captain Jack Sparrow, knew that the last film, directed by Gore Verbinski (as were the first two), had lost its way.

Brooks Barnes, "New Captain for a Series Becalmed," New York Times, May 11, 2011

The fairy tale is about a swashbuckler named Westley (Elwes) who has to rescue his true love, Buttercup (Robin Wright), before she is forced to marry the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon).

Reed Tucker, "Inside the hilarious making of 'The Princess Bride'," New York Post, October 12, 2014
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Word of the day

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

à gogo

[ uh goh-goh ]

adverb

as much as you like; to your heart's content; galore: food and drink à gogo.

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What is the origin of à gogo?

The colloquial phrase à gogo comes from the name of a Parisian nightclub and discotheque Whisky à Go-Go “Whisky Galore,” which opened in 1947 and quickly became very hip (or hep). A similar club, Whisky a Go Go, opened in Chicago in 1958, and a third Whisky a Go Go opened in Los Angeles in 1964. The French phrase à gogo means “aplenty, galore”; it derives from a Middle French adverb sense “joyfully, uninhibitedly, extravagantly,” from the preposition à “to” and gogo, probably a reduplicated form of gogue “witticism, fun, amusement.” À gogo first appears in print in 1960.

how is à gogo used?

… go up and out onto the Boulevard St.-Germain with its cafes a gogo for unlikely‐seeming students and unpublished poets.

William A. Krauss, "If You Go See Paris by Metro for $1.50," New York Times, November 5, 1972

I was at my local park the other day, watching my sons playing tennis, and spotted the Mayor of London on another court—blond hair flying, Hawaiian shorts a go-go.

Rosie Millard, "Shame on those who have driven Alec Baldwin from public life," The Independent, February 24, 2014
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Word of the day

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Preamble

[ pree-am-buhl, pree-am- ]

noun

the introductory statement of the U.S. Constitution, setting forth the general principles of American government and beginning with the words, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union. …”

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What is the origin of Preamble?

English preamble, “introductory statement or paragraph,” which has the variant spellings preambel, preambile, preambul in Middle English, comes from Old French preamble, preambule, from Medieval Latin preambulum, praeambulum “preliminary statement, preface (in legal documents).” Praeambulum is a neuter adjective used as a noun from the Late Latin adjective praeambulus “walking before,” a compound of the Latin preposition and prefix prae, prae– “before, in advance” (usually spelled pre– in English and completely naturalized), and the verb ambulāre “to walk, walk for health or pleasure, stroll.” Preamble first appears in English in Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale” (from The Canterbury Tales, after 1387). The legal sense “introductory paragraph of a treaty, deed, will (or other legal document)” dates to the second half of the 16th century. Preamble, with a capital P, specifically refers to the opening statement of the U.S. Constitution, signed on September 17, 1787. Beginning with the momentous phrase “We the people,” the Preamble lays out the principles and purpose of the Constitution and the government it establishes.

how is Preamble used?

Is not the preamble the foundation of our Constitution; does it not contain the basic principles, and is not the accomplishment of these principles the aim, the end and the essence of our government and Americanism?

George M. B. Hawley, "Function of the Preamble," New York Times, July 16, 1933

… the Preamble is a declaration of purposes and the underlying spirit of the grand game, if such it may be called, of self-government and liberty to be played by the people of the United States.

Charles A. Beard, "A More Perfect Union and Justice," The Republic, 1944
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