Word of the Day

Friday, July 24, 2020

taciturn

[ tas-i-turn ]

adjective

inclined to silence; reserved in speech; reluctant to join in conversation.

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What is the origin of taciturn?

Taciturn ultimately derives from Latin taciturnus “keeping silent, saying nothing, silent by habit or disposition,” a derivative of tacitus, past participle of tacēre “to say nothing, be silent.” Tacēre and its derivatives come from an uncommon Proto-Indo-European root tak-, takē- “to be silent.” Tak- regularly becomes thah- in Germanic, yielding Gothic thahan “to keep silent, hold one’s peace,” and Old Icelandic thagna “become silent.” Tak- in Celtic yields Welsh tagu and Breton taga “strangling, choking” (one way of obtaining silence). Taciturn entered English in the 18th century.

how is taciturn used?

But there at the depot was her husband, the taciturn man who kept his emotions to himself …
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns, 2010

Ernő Rubik has often been painted as a taciturn loner, a grudging genius who built a beautiful object he hoped would create an introspective space where individuals could consider the elegance of geometry, and who instead became an icon for one of the great marketing crazes of all time.

Stefany Anne Goldberg, "Puzzled: The Rubik's Cube at 30." The Smart Set, April 13, 2010

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

clamber

[ klam-ber, klam-er ]

verb (used with or without object)

to climb, using both feet and hands; climb with effort or difficulty.

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What is the origin of clamber?

Clamber, “to climb using hands and feet, with effort or difficulty,” comes from Middle English clambren (also clameren, clemeren), possibly a frequentative verb from climben (also clemme, climme, klimbe, clomme) “to climb.” Further etymology is unsatisfying: it has been suggested that clamber is a blend of Old English climban “to climb” and clæmman “to press”; clamber is akin to Old Norse klambra “to hook onto,” and Middle High German klamben and German klammern, both meaning “to clamp tightly.” Clamber entered English in the second half of the 14th century.

how is clamber used?

Outdoor restaurant tables and chairs could be seen bobbing in the waters, and tourists were forced to clamber through the windows of high-end hotels as the water rose to about six feet before 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

Elisabetta Povoledo, "Venice Flooding Brings City to 'Its Knees,'" New York Times, November 13, 2019

He began to clamber as fast as he could out of the enclosed space, his feet scrabbling at the wall and knocking bricks free.

Matthew Hughes, "Jewel of the Heart," Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2018

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

fungible

[ fuhn-juh-buhl ]

adjective

being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.

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What is the origin of fungible?

Fungible, with its precise definition “(especially of goods) of such a kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable for another of similar kind,” is pretty much restricted to law and finance. However the term is also used with a more general meaning of “interchangeable.” Fungible comes from Medieval Latin fungibilis “useful, interchangeable,” used especially in the legal term rēs fungibilēs “fungible things, interchangeable items.” Fungibilis is a derivation of Latin fungī “to perform the office of, enjoy.” Fungī forms part of the idiomatic phrase fungī vice or fungī prō “to take the place of,” which supplies the meaning for fungibilis. Fungible entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is fungible used?

Facebook and Google need content, but it’s all fungible.

Alexis C. Madrigal, "Prepare for the New Paywall Era," The Atlantic, November 30, 2017

Given that the Hong Kong-listed shares and the New York ones will be completely fungible, Alibaba can easily sell $13 billion of shares … at a small discount to its current share price.

Jacky Wong, "Hong Kong's Protests Won't Derail Alibaba's #13 Billion Listing," Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2019

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