Word of the Day

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

thewless

[ thyoo-lis ]

adjective

lacking in mental or moral vigor; weak, spiritless, or timid.

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What is the origin of thewless?

First recorded in 1300-50, thewless is from the Middle English word theweles.

how is thewless used?

For indeed they were but thewless creatures, pallid with the damp caves of the moors, and so starved that they seemed to have eaten grass like Nebuchadnezzar.

S. R. Crockett, The Cherry Ribband, 1905

Here I stand amid my clan / Spoiled of my fame a thewless man.

J. Stuart Blackie, "Is the Gaelic Ossian a Translation from the English?" The Celtic Magazine, July 1876
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Monday, February 19, 2018

bossdom

[ baws-duh m, bos- ]

noun

the status, influence, or power of a boss, especially a political boss.

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What is the origin of bossdom?

Bossdom has a crude, graceless sound. It is originally an Americanism referring to the bosses of political machines at the municipal and state level. Bossdom first entered English in the late 19th century.

how is bossdom used?

Señor So-and-so is the most powerful boss in the province of Tarragona, and even at that there are those who dispute his bossdom.

Pío Baroja, Caesar or Nothing, translated by Louis How, 1919

This was Lepke’s first bid for bossdom. He was ready to try his theories.

Meyer Berger, "Lepke," Life, February 28, 1944
Sunday, February 18, 2018

glissade

[ gli-sahd, -seyd ]

noun

a skillful glide over snow or ice in descending a mountain, as on skis or a toboggan.

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What is the origin of glissade?

The English noun glissade shows its obviously French origin. The French noun means “glide, slide, slip, faux pas” and derives from the verb glisser ”to slip, slide.” The French verb comes from Old French glicier, an alteration of glier “to glide,” a verb of Germanic (Frankish) origin, related to Old English glīdan and Old High German glītan “to glide.” Glissade entered English in the 19th century.

how is glissade used?

A rapid scramble down the shattered ridge to the col, and a careful kicking of steps along the first two or three hundred feet of the glacier which led northwards to our picnic place, then a glissade … gradually easing off into a run down.

T. Howard Somervell, After Everest: The Experiences of a Mountaineer and Medical Missionary, 1950

“Don’t worry,” she cheerily assured us over her shoulder. “In some places glissade is just about the only thing you can do. Plus, it’s fun.”

Paul Schneider, "On Snowshoes in New Hampshire, Shuffling Off to Lonesome Lake," New York Times, March 5, 2009
Saturday, February 17, 2018

objurgate

[ ob-jer-geyt, uh b-jur-geyt ]

verb

to reproach or denounce vehemently; upbraid harshly; berate sharply.

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What is the origin of objurgate?

The English verb objurgate comes from Latin objūrgāt-, the past participle stem of the verb objūrgāre “to reprimand, rebuke.” The Latin verb is composed of the prefix ob- “against,” and the verb jūrgāre or jūrigāre “to rebuke.” Jūrigāre, in turn, is composed of the noun stem jūr- (from jūs “right, law, justice”) and the verb suffix -igāre, from -ig-, a noun derivative of agere “to drive, do,” as in fumigate, litigate, and navigate. Objurgate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is objurgate used?

Let his fellows grumble and objurgate, said he; they would cringe to him when he became a dragoman, with his pockets stuffed with piastres.

Sabine Baring-Gould, The Book of Ghosts, 1904

It would be my advice to persons situated in this way, to not roll or thrash around, because this excites the interest of all the different sorts of animals and makes every last one of them want to turn out and see what is going on, and this makes things worse than they were before, and of course makes you objurgate harder, too, if you can.

Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, 1889
Friday, February 16, 2018

messan

[ mes-uh n ]

noun

Scot. a lap dog; small pet dog.

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What is the origin of messan?

The English noun messan “small dog, lap dog” comes from Scots Gaelic measan “small dog,” cognate with Irish Gaelic measán, both of which are diminutives of Gaelic mess “favored (one).” Messan entered English in the late 15th century.

how is messan used?

They are good enough lads, Sholto and Laurence both, but they will be for ever gnarring and grappling at each other like messan dogs round a kirk door.

S. R. Crockett, The Black Douglas, 1899

Here, sisters, here is my trusty and well-beloved Dame de Ste. Petronelle, who takes such care of me that she dogs my footsteps like a messan.

Charlotte Mary Yonge, Two Penniless Princesses, 1890
Thursday, February 15, 2018

SOS

[ es-oh-es ]

noun

any call for help: We sent out an SOS for more typists.

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What is the origin of SOS?

SOS comes from the Morse code alphabet, in which three dots (or short clicks) represents the letter S and three dashes (or long clicks) represents the letter O.

how is SOS used?

When an SOS is heard, there is an immediate response by almost anyone who is in a position to be of assistance and a prayerful response by those are unable to assist.

Gilbert P. Pond, "SOS ... SAS," The Rotarian, July 1955

SOS is not only a signal of despair, it is a larger symbol of hope.

, "SOS," New York Times, December 24, 1956
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ship

[ ship ]

verb

to take an interest in or hope for a romantic relationship between (fictional characters or famous people), whether or not the romance actually exists: I’m shipping for those guys—they would make a great couple!

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What is the origin of ship?

The verb ship, originally meaning “to discuss or portray a romantic couple in fiction, especially in a serial” is a shortening of (relation)ship and dates only from 1996.

how is ship used?

The characters are ‘shipped by enough people that the duo has a name: Reylo.

Alexis Rhiannon, "Kylo Ren & Rey's 'Last Jedi' Relationship Is Tearing The Fandom Apart & Here's Why," Bustle, December 2017

It’s a popular misunderstanding that one can only ship two characters who are not already romantically involved on a show. In fact, it’s perfectly appropriate to ship, for example, Jim and Pam from “The Office.”

Jonah Engel Bromwich, "Who Do You Ship? What Tumblr Tells Us About Fan Culture," New York Times, December 4, 2017

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