Word of the Day

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

taxonomy

[ tak-son-uh-mee ]

noun

a classification into ordered categories: a proposed taxonomy of educational objectives.

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What is the origin of taxonomy?

The English noun taxonomy, “classification into ordered categories,” comes from French taxonomie, an irregular formation from the Greek noun táxis “military formation by rank and file,” and the Greek combining form –nomía, a derivative of nómos “law.” A note on the spelling: the original Greek noun táxis is an “i-stem,” and its connecting vowel is –i-; the etymologically correct form is taxinomy. The noun táxos, “yew, yew tree,” has the connecting vowel –o-; taxonomy “properly” means “classification of yew trees.” Taxonomy entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is taxonomy used?

Warhol was the little match girl peering in at high society, wondering what a rich collector or a countess was like and creating a taxonomy of it.

Thomas Sokolowski, quoted in "Picasso: Love Him? Hate Him? A Bit of Both?" Robert Atkins, New York Times, April 28, 1996

How long has our current taxonomy of Red State vs. Blue State been part of our political vernacular?

Christopher Briem, "The map is back!" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 5, 2013

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

idoneous

[ ahy-doh-nee-uhs ]

adjective

appropriate; fit; suitable; apt.

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What is the origin of idoneous?

The adjective idoneous, “suitable, fit,” is now rare and archaic. It comes straight from Latin idōneous “suitable, appropriate, qualified, able”; it has no reliable Latin etymology. Idoneous has an even rarer derivative noun, idoneousness “fitness, suitability.”  Idoneous entered English in the first half of the 17th century; idoneousness is first recorded in English in the first half of the 18th century and was last recorded just over a century later, in the mid-19th.

how is idoneous used?

As far as benefices are concerned no one could be more idoneous, fitting or suitable than Martin, since he is an Anglican clergyman.

Patrick O'Brian, The Truelove, 1992

What is idoneous cannot be always or necessarily known in advance. 

Aseem Inam, Planning for the Unplanned: Recovering from Crises in Megacities, 2005

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Monday, April 13, 2020

quidnunc

[ kwid-nuhngk ]

noun

a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a gossip or busybody.

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What is the origin of quidnunc?

Quidnunc comes from Latin quid nunc “what now?”  Readers of the Roman poet Horace might recognize quidnunc as a quote from one of his humorous and elegant Epistles: “Albius, frank judge of my Epistles, / What now shall I say you are doing …?” Horace’s two lines are a trope for someone who wants to hear all the latest gossip, like Horace, the second person narrator in his Epistle. Quidnunc entered English in the early 18th century.

how is quidnunc used?

It’s hard enough to get on with one’s life without the tittle-tattle of a quidnunc spotlighting your weaknesses.

James Tate, "Friends," Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee, 2002

It is a restaurant with a loyal clientele and, as a quidnunc might put it, a place whose fame has been hushed about for seven years.

Craig Claiborne, "Restaurant on Review: Chinese Fare," New York Times, July 14, 1961

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