Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

swivet

[ swiv-it ]

noun

a state of nervous excitement, haste, or anxiety; flutter.

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What is the origin of swivet?

Swivet “nervous excitement, haste, anxiety” usually occurs in the phrase in a swivet, or in such a swivet. Swivet is an American colloquialism of unknown origin, first appearing in 1890 in the Vermont Journal.

how is swivet used?

On the night of their 10th anniversary, he’d been in such a swivet about what to give her that he locked himself in his bedroom trying to choose the right gift.

Caitlin Flanagan, "Jackie and the Girls," The Atlantic, July/August 2012

Here in the valley of my mid-50s, I try not to get into a swivet over my occasionally faulty memory: Sometimes the mind has a mind of its own.

Henry Alford, "Total Recall: A Reader's Guide to Memory Gain," New York Times, January 7, 2018

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Monday, December 21, 2020

brumal

[ broo-muhl ]

adjective

wintry.

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What is the origin of brumal?

The adjective brumal “wintry” ultimately comes from Latin brūmālis “pertaining to the winter solstice, or to the winter,” a derivative of the noun brūma “the day of the winter solstice, the position of the sun on the solstice, midwinter” (both the noun and the adjective are very restricted in their usage). Brūma comes from breuma, a contraction of brevi-ma “shortest” (Latin v is pronounced like English w). The ending –ma is an old superlative ending (usually replaced in Latin by –issima; brevissima is standard Latin). Brevi– is the inflectional stem of brevis “short, low, shallow, stunted,” and the source of English breve and brief. Brumal entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is brumal used?

Our motley platoon of snowmobiles was chewing up a rippled meadow high on the southwestern flanks of the Gore Range near Vail, Colo., four bundles of motorized mayhem zigzagging across a brumal landscape.

Rick Lyman, "It's Vail in the Winter. Who Needs Skis?" New York Times, January 26, 2003

Operated under the Antarctic Treaty System, the South Pole is meant to be a brumal Eden of science, where research centers are freed from the political binds that exist in the world above.

B. David Zarley, "In Ashley Shelby's South Pole Station, a Climate Change Denier Rocks Antarctica's Research Community," Paste, July 6, 2017

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Sunday, December 20, 2020

snuggery

[ snuhg-uh-ree ]

noun

British.

a comfortable or cozy room.

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What is the origin of snuggery?

Snuggery “a comfortable, cozy room” is a transparent derivative of the adjective snug “comfortably warm and cozy,” as in Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas (1823), “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.” The origin of snug is uncertain: it may be of Scandinavian origin, related to Old Norse snøggr “short, short-haired, sudden, brief,” Old Danish snøg, and Swedish snygg, both meaning “neat, trim, tidy.” Snuggery entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is snuggery used?

On the top of the house was a snuggery, into which he retired when he wanted to be entirely alone, and this he called his Syracuse, or workshop.

Sabine Baring-Gould, The Tragedy of the Caesars, 1892

No wonder, then, that Phra-Alack experienced an access of gratitude for the privilege of napping for two hours in a snuggery of sunshine.

Anna Leonowens, "The English Governess at the Siamese Court," The Atlantic, April 1870

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