Word of the Day

Word of the day

Saturday, February 05, 2022

telluric

[ te-loor-ik ] [ tɛˈlʊər ɪk ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

adjective

of or proceeding from the earth or soil.

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What is the origin of telluric?

Telluric “of or relating to the earth” derives from the Latin noun tellūs (stem tellūr-) “earth.” Much as Latin had two words for “star”—sidus and stella, as featured in the etymology for recent Word of the Day circumstellar—Latin had two words as well for “earth”: tellūs and terra. Just as stella became the more productive of the two and is the source of modern Romance words for “star,” so was terra preferred over tellūs. While tellūs is the root of a few technical terms in English, such as the element tellurium, terra can be found today in English terms such as terrain, territory, and extraterrestrial as well as in French terre and Spanish tierra. Telluric was first recorded in English in the 1830s.

how is telluric used?

There came to me the cracked, halting voices of the water drawers as they returned from the river, laden, and I set down my books and listened to the broken rhythm of their gait, the thud of their walking sticks, the telluric drone of shifting plates of granite.

George Makana Clark, The Raw Man, 2011
[Neo] Rauch feels deeply rooted in the state of Saxony. “It may sound esoteric,” he told me, “but I happen to believe in telluric forces, and that you have a connection to the place where you came into the world.”

Thomas Meaney, "Neo Rauch’s Antagonistic Art," The New Yorker, September 27, 2021

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Friday, February 04, 2022

aver

[ uh-vur ] [ əˈvɜr ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to assert or affirm with confidence; declare in a positive or peremptory manner.

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What is the origin of aver?

Aver “to assert with confidence” derives via Middle English and Middle French from Medieval Latin advērāre, roughly “to make true,” from Latin vērus “true.” The ultimate source of vērus is a Proto-Indo-European root of the same meaning that has an unexpected cognate in English: warlock. The war- part of warlock means “faith” as well as “agreement, covenant” in Old English, and the original meaning of warlock (Old English wǣrloga) was “oathbreaker.” Latin v frequently corresponds to English w, which is evident in other pairs of cognates from the two languages, such as Latin ventus and English wind, Latin via and English way, and Latin verbum and English word. Aver was first recorded in English in the late 14th century. Learn some synonyms for aver by checking out Synonym of the Day.

how is aver used?

Ms. Sidibe’s aunt is Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a founder of Ms. Magazine; a famous portrait from 1971, of Ms. Pitman Hughes and Gloria Steinem raising their fists in a Black Power salute, hung in her sitting room, where Ms. Sidibe passed it every day on her way to school, and Ms. Steinem was a regular guest. While Ms. Sidibe averred that she is “a link on a chain of powerful women,” her own steely self-confidence, she said, wasn’t nurtured by her activist relatives so much as a survival skill she taught herself in the bruising theater of elementary school.

Penelope Green, “Gabourey Sidibe Doesn’t Want to Talk About Her Body,” New York Times, May 1, 2017

Ours is called the Age of Science for a reason, and that reason is reason itself, which in recent decades has come under fire by cognitive psychologists and behavioral economists who assert that humans are irrational by nature and by postmodernists who aver that reason is a hegemonic weapon of patriarchal oppression. Balderdash! Call it “factiness,” the quality of seeming to be factual when it is not.

Michael Shermer, “Is Truth an Outdated Concept?” Scientific American, March 1, 2018

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Word of the day

Thursday, February 03, 2022

yakka

[ yak-uh ] [ ˈyæk ə ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

noun

work, especially hard work.

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What is the origin of yakka?

Yakka “work” is a term in Australian slang that used to be spelled variously as yacker or yakker, among other options. Because Australian English is a variety of English that is non-rhotic, dropping the r sound after a vowel, the original spelling of yakka may have changed to reflect this r-dropping tendency. While the ultimate source of yakka is obscure, the most popular hypothesis is a derivation from yaga “to work,” a word from the Yagara language. Yagara, also known as Turrbal, is a language native to Queensland, the northeasternmost state of Australia, and belongs to the Pama–Nyungan language family, as do three-quarters of all aboriginal languages of Australia. Yakka was first recorded in English in the late 1880s.

how is yakka used?

Beyond the stereotyped “G’day” (hello) of souvenir T-shirts and “Crocodile Dundee” movies, are many words rich in tradition that define the Australian identity and give continuity to the variety of voices and experiences that shaped the country’s history. Assuming you pass the tests and move to Australia, you’ll probably find yourself flat out like a lizard drinking, that’s extremely busy, from the hard yakka or labour of your new job.

Jonathan Standing, “Aussie slang can leave you a few roos loose,” Reuters, January 21, 2007

In Adelaide there may be periods when the ball darts around and the bowlers move to attacking lengths to induce batters into coming forward, and other times when seamers will have to plug away and do some hard yakka, which England’s are capable of doing. The path to victory is to bang away with accurate seam bowlers.

Mark Ramprakash, “England blew it in Brisbane and must get the bowling lineup right in Adelaide,” The Guardian, December 14, 2021

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