• Word of the day
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    Sunday, September 09, 2018

    sweeting

    noun [swee-ting]
    a sweet variety of apple.
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    What is the origin of sweeting?

    Sweeting is an obvious noun formed from the adjective sweet and the noun suffix -ing “one belonging to, descended from.” The sense “sweetheart,” not used nowadays, dates from about 1300; the sense “a variety of sweet apple” dates from the 16th century.

    How is sweeting used?

    ... I do give her the frut of two appel trees one a sweeting ye nothermost of ye sweetings in ye Lower yard and ye westermost tree by ye highway. "A Trip to Old Harwich," The Owl, September 1903

    They be not righteous actions that make a righteous man; nor be they evil actions that make a wicked man: for a tree must be a sweeting tree before it yield sweetings; and a crab tree before it bring forth crabs. John Bunyan, A Discourse Upon the Pharisee and the Publican, 1685

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, September 08, 2018

    caboshed

    adjective [kuh-bosht]
    Heraldry. (of an animal, as a deer) shown facing forward without a neck: a stag's head caboshed.
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    What is the origin of caboshed?

    Caboshed, also spelled caboched and cabossed is a technical term in heraldry referring to a beast decapitated behind its horns. The -ed shows that the variant spellings are all past participles of the very rare and obsolete verb cabochen, cabachen “to behead (a deer or other beast) right behind its horns.” The English verb comes from the French verb cabocher (past participle caboché), a derivative of caboche (Old French caboce), a pejorative northern French dialect (Norman, Picard) word meaning “head” (literally “cabbage”). Caboche may be a development of Latin caput “head.” Caboshed entered English in the 16th century.

    How is caboshed used?

    ... an heraldic shield featuring a lion's head caboshed, with medusa hair, a single bulging eye, a beard, and tusks ... John Clute, Appleseed, 2001

    A fanciful menagerie flourished on the banners: the caboshed boar of Janos of Hungary, the naiant dolphin of a Sicilian Norman, the salient-countersalient white stags of Conrad's men, and everywhere the Templars' Pegasus. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Crusader's Torch, 1988

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, September 07, 2018

    locavore

    noun [loh-kuh-vawr, -vohr]
    a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally, usually within 100 miles of home.
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    What is the origin of locavore?

    Locavore was coined in 2005 by Jessica Prentice (born 1968), an American chef and author, and a co-founder of Three Stone Hearth, a community-supported kitchen in Berkeley, California. Locavore is a compound of English local, from Latin locālis “pertaining to a place” (from locus "place") and Latin vorāre “to swallow ravenously,” which also appears in devour “to swallow down, gulp down,” carnivore “meat eater,” and herbivore “grass eater.”

    How is locavore used?

    The pomegranates, Boston lettuce, and tomatoes came from out of state--it was hard to be a complete locavore in New England during the winter. Steven Raichlen, Island Apart, 2012

    The locavore movement aims to capture that flavor difference and promote sustainable, community-based agriculture by favoring "low-mileage" foods over ones that have traveled long distances to arrive at your plate. Christie Aschwanden, "The Locavore," Runner's World, October 2008

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, September 06, 2018

    cyclopean

    adjective [sahy-kluh-pee-uhn, sahy-klop-ee-uhn]
    gigantic; vast.
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    What is the origin of cyclopean?

    English cyclopean comes from the Latin adjective Cyclōpēus, a borrowing of Greek Kyklṓpeios, a derivative of the common noun, proper noun, and name Kýklōps, which the Greeks interpreted to mean “round eye” (a compound of kýklos “wheel” and ōps “eye, face”). The most famous Cyclops is Polyphemus, a crude, solitary shepherd living on an island whom Odysseus blinded in Homer’s Odyssey. Hesiod (ca. 8th century b.c.) in his Theogony names three Cyclopes; they are craftsmen who make Zeus’s thunderbolts, and whom the Greeks often credited with building the walls of ancient Mycenae, Tiryns, Argos, and the acropolis of Athens, all constructed with massive limestone blocks roughly fitted together without mortar. Cyclopean entered English in the 17th century.

    How is cyclopean used?

    ... large ships’ vents hang from the two-story-high ceiling, like Cyclopean worms poking their heads in to check out the space. Colin Stokes, "The Ship," The New Yorker, May 16, 2016

    And ahead, the great cyclopean edifice reared like a giant's curse against the darkness: too dense a black, too severe. Storm Constantine, The Way of Light, 2002

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, September 05, 2018

    claddagh

    noun [klah-duh]
    a ring in the form of two hands clasping a crowned heart, given in friendship or love.
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    What is the origin of claddagh?

    The claddagh ring is Irish in name and origin. Claddagh in Irish means “shore” and is also the name of a fishing village on the western edge of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland. The rings, with the design of two hands (friendship) clasping a heart (love), surmounted by a crown (loyalty), symbolized betrothal or marriage and were used at least as early as 1700. Claddagh entered English in the 19th century.

    How is claddagh used?

    One of the rings was becoming visible thanks to the bright light. "Are those hands?" "It's a claddagh." C. J. Lyons, Devil Smoke, 2016

    Taking note of the thick band of sterling silver, I saw alternating squares of intricately engraved pictures: one was a Scottish thistle, one a Celtic knot, one a raven and the last I recognized because of my studies: a Claddagh: two hands clasping a heart together. Sharon Ricklin Jones, Ravenswynd Legends, 2013

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, September 04, 2018

    scry

    verb [skrahy]
    to use divination to discover hidden knowledge or future events, especially by means of a crystal ball.
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    What is the origin of scry?

    Aphesis is the loss of an unstressed vowel or syllable from the beginning of a word, as descry becoming scry. The adjective formed from aphesis is aphetic. Descry means "to see something unclear or distant by looking carefully"; scry has a narrower meaning, “to use divination to learn hidden events or the future, especially by gazing into a crystal ball or water." Scry was obsolete by the 16th century, but it was revived in the 19th century by Andrew Lang (1844–1912), the Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, anthropologist, and collector of folk and fairy tales.

    How is scry used?

    Merlin could scry in any clear or shiny surface. Even now he had a basin of water ready at this elbow for watching his boy king. Phyllis Ann Karr, "Merlin's Dark Mirror," The Merlin Chronicles, 1995

    And my lord had a great mirror where he wanted me to scry--to see the future. Philippa Gregory, The Lady of the Rivers, 2011

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, September 03, 2018

    nepenthe

    noun [ni-pen-thee]
    anything inducing a pleasurable sensation of forgetfulness, especially of sorrow or trouble.
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    What is the origin of nepenthe?

    In Greek and English nepenthe and pathos are opposites. Greek nēpenthḗs is an adjective meaning “banishing pain, without sorrow.” Nēpenthḗs breaks down to the (unusual) negative prefix nē- (ultimately from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-), the stem penth- of the noun pénthos “pain,” and the adjective suffix -ḗs, -és. The Greek nouns pénthos and páthos “sensation, suffering” are derivatives of the complicated verb páschein, all three words showing variants of the Greek root penth-, ponth-, path- “to suffer, experience.” Nepenthe entered English in the 16th century.

    How is nepenthe used?

    There must have been in him a remarkable capacity for forgetfulness; he might seem to have drunk every morning a nepenthe that drowned in oblivion all his yesterdays. Walter Noble Burns, The Saga of Billy the Kid, 1925

    Of course, he was feverish and in great pain, despite the draughts of nepenthe he was given ... Steven Saylor, The House of Vestals, 1992

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