ragged; unkempt or dilapidated.
Tatterdemalion “unkempt or dilapidated,” first written tatter-de-mallian, is of uncertain origin, but there are some potential leads. The first element is likely tatter “a torn piece hanging loose from a garment,” from Old Norse tǫturr “rag,” but an alternative proposal based on outdated uses of tatterdemalion connects the term to Tatar or Tartar, a member of one of many ethnic Turkic groups of northwestern and central Asia, and both words once meant “wanderer, vagabond.” The second element, de (also ti), appears to be a common element in fanciful, elaborate, and nonsensical terms, from gobbledegook, hobbledehoy, and slubberdegullion to flibbertigibbet and dandiprat. The significance of the final element, malion, is unfortunately lost to history. Tatterdemalion was first recorded in the first decade of the 17th century.
Overhanging his outer compound wall were the only two remaining shade trees in the citadel, one a dying oak, the other a mulberry tree, and within the compound was a tatterdemalion garden, where a scrawny pomegranate tree drooped with heavy fruit. The house was modest, but with triangular brick architectural flourishes above the door, characteristic of ancient house styles here.
He had paused under one of the rare lamp-posts, gathering up his recollections of the London he had so long quitted, and doubtful for a moment or two which turn to take. Just then, up from an alley fronting him at right angles, came suddenly, warily, a tall, sinewy, ill-boding tatterdemalion figure, and, seeing Darrell’s face under the lamp, halted abrupt at the mouth of the narrow passage from which it had emerged—a dark form filling up the dark aperture.
verb (used with object)
to remove the ambiguity from; make unambiguous.
Disambiguate “to remove the ambiguity from” is based on the adjective ambiguous “open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations,” plus the affixes dis-, indicating reversal, and -ate, indicating a verb. Ambiguous, from Latin ambiguus, is derived from the verb ambigere “to dispute, contend,” which is a compound of the prefix ambi- “both” and the verb agere “to do, drive.” Ambi- crops up in English terms such as ambidextrous (literally “both right-handed”), ambient (“going both (directions)”), ambivalent (“both strong”), and past Word of the Day ambivert (“turned both ways”). Agere is a rather productive verb with numerous stems: ag- appears in agenda, agent, and agile; -ig- is found in litigate, navigate, and castigate and its synonym past Word of the Day fustigate; and finally act- is found in action, activity, and exact. Disambiguate was first recorded in English in the early 1960s.
When emoji appear with text, they often supplement or enhance the writing. This is similar to gestures that appear along with speech. Over the past three decades, research has shown that our hands provide important information that often transcends and clarifies the message in speech. Emoji serve this function too– or instance, adding a kissy or winking face can disambiguate whether a statement is flirtatiously teasing or just plain mean.
Some people think nothing of highlighting inconsistent punctuation wherever they might see it, however innocuous or irrelevant it might be (apostrophes rarely actually disambiguate–after all, we get along fine without them in speech). Never mind that it’s a handwritten notice in a shop window, written by someone for whom English is a second (or third, or fourth) language. Never mind that it’s a leaflet touting for work from someone who didn’t get the chance to complete their education. They need to be corrected and/or posted online for others to see. Otherwise, how will anybody learn?
a two-step, especially one done to Latin American rhythms.
Paso doble “a two-step” is a loanword from Spanish, in which the term means “double step.” Spanish doble and English double are clear cognates—both derive from Latin duplus (literally “two more”) or duplex (literally “twofold”)—while paso is a cognate of English pace and pass, and all three derive from the Latin noun passus “step.” Passus also serves as the past participle of the verb pandere “to spread,” which is the source of English words such as expand. While Spanish simply uses no to mean “no” or “not,” its sister language French uses the phrase ne…pas, which literally means “not a step” and descends from Latin nec passum. Paso doble was first recorded in English in the late 1920s.
At another juncture of the concert, an energetic tune suddenly unfolds into a pasodoble, which since the 1960s has become a standard during Venezuelan celebrations—aptly titled “Música de fiesta” (Party music) …. The tune is particularly appealing to the audience, now on its feet and in motion.
I left the radio on by his bed, I even called to request a song to entertain him, a paso doble which is what he liked to dance at the firemen’s balls when he was single, until I finally went lame like this from a stomping he gave me in the dance contest the first Sunday of Lent, when he yelled Olé and came down with his heel right on my bunion…
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