Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

thunderstone

[ thuhn-der-stohn ]

noun

any of various stones or fossils formerly thought to be fallen thunderbolts.

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What is the origin of thunderstone?

Thunderstone in the sense “thunderbolt” dates from the end of the 16th century; the sense “stone or fossil” dates from the late 17th century.

how is thunderstone used?

Palta might not be hidden from the sky; thus the sacred thunder-stone of Terminus at Rome stood under a hole in the roof of Jupiter’s temple …

Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, 1955

In Germany until the early 20th century people believed in the magic properties of the devil’s fingers, known also as catstones, thunderstones, wombstones or even candles of the dead. According to ancient lore these strange stones are falling from the sky and witches can use them to cause thunderstorms.

David Bressan, "Fire burn, and cauldron bubble ... The Thunderstone," Scientific American, October 28, 2013
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Word of the day

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

linguaphile

[ ling-gwuh-fahyl ]

noun

a language and word lover.

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What is the origin of linguaphile?

Linguist has existed in English since the 16th century. It means “one who is adept at learning and using foreign languages; one who is a student of language or linguistics; a translator or interpreter.” Linguaphile has a somewhat different meaning: “one who loves words or languages.” The originally Greek suffix -phile (“lover of”) is completely naturalized in English. Lingua in Latin means “tongue, language”; its Old Latin form was dingua, from Proto-Indo-European dṇghwā, which is also the source of Germanic (English) tongue, and of Celtic (Old Irish) teng, Baltic inžũ-, and Slavic (Polish) język (with Baltic and Slavic loss of initial d-; ę represents a nasalized vowel). Linguaphile entered English in the late 20th century.

how is linguaphile used?

The collection has so many good passages — whole paragraphs that move into pages with never a misstep — that any linguaphile could spend a great afternoon in a little spasm of dazzle.

Robin Romm, "Baser Instincts," New York Times, July 19, 2013

In the story “Entourage,” a linguaphile travels to Poland, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, and more, collecting suitcases full of books in their original languages.

Nathan Scott McNamara, "Everything Was a Fake," Los Angeles Review of Books, June 8, 2018

Word of the day

Monday, October 15, 2018

patzer

[ paht-ser, pat- ]

noun

a casual, amateurish chess player.

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What is the origin of patzer?

Patzer was first recorded in 1955–60. It is probably from German Patzer “bungler,” equivalent to patz(en) “to bungle” (compare Austrian dialect Patzen “stain, blot,” patzen “to make a stain”).

how is patzer used?

Anatoly Karpov, the champion before Kasparov, once said the only difference between a prodigy and a patzer was how far into the future a player could look.

Mitch Silver, The Bookworm, 2018

You’re a patzer. Look that up in your dictionary.

Mark Coggins, The Immortal Game, 2006

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