Word of the Day

Friday, June 18, 2021

tickety-boo

[ tik-i-tee-boo ]

adjective

fine; OK.

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What is the origin of tickety-boo?

Tickety-boo, an informal adjective meaning “fine, OK,” is a British colloquialism of uncertain etymology. It may be an expressive alteration of “that’s the ticket,” ticket here having its informal sense “the proper thing, advisable thing.” Or tickety-boo may be a holdover from the Raj, from Hindi ṭhīk hai “It’s all right,” or ṭhīk hai, bābū “It’s all right, Sir.” Tickety-boo entered English in the first half of the 20th century.

how is tickety-boo used?

I spent a couple of Saturdays gathering all of my bank statements and other documents, making post-closing general journal entries, and printing out financial statements to deliver to my C.P.A. for both our corporate and personal income tax returns. As my Canadian father would say, my books are now tickety-boo (translation: in perfect working order).

Barbara Taylor, "Finding Something to Like About April 15," New York Times, March 1, 2010

I broke one of the six required ramekins before I even started, and the ovenproof dish I used was too small at 22 centimeters (8.7 inches) by 15 cms. … Oh, and I also managed to burn the souffles, but only a little bit. Apart from all that, it was all tickety-boo.

Richard Vines, "Mary Berry's Simple Recipe for Double-Baked Mushroom Souffles," Bloomberg, October 17, 2020

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

prothalamion

[ proh-thuh-ley-mee-on, -uhn ]

noun

a song or poem written to celebrate a marriage.

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What is the origin of prothalamion?

Prothalamion, “a song or poem written to celebrate a marriage,” is modeled on epithalamion “a song or poem in honor of a bride and bridegroom.” Epithalamion is the neuter singular of the Greek adjective epithalámios “bridal, nuptial,” literally “at the thalamus,” i.e., the inner chamber at the rear of a house, woman’s room, bedroom, storeroom. Epithalamia (plural of epithalamion) were traditional features in Greek weddings and were therefore a very ancient custom. The epithalamia of the Lesbian lyric poet Sappho, the Athenian comic playwright Aristophanes, and the tragedian Euripides were famous. Edmund Spenser coined prothalamion in 1597, apparently intending his coinage to mean “a song or poem celebrating an upcoming wedding,” the Greek prefix pro– here meaning “before in time,” not “before in space.”

how is prothalamion used?

He struck a formal pose with the shotgun cradled in his arms and commenced a rawk-voiced prothalamion. It vaguely took the form of song, modal and dark, and the dire jig of its tune grated on the ear.

Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain, 1997

Every wolf in the world now howled a prothalamion outside the window as she freely gave the kiss she owed him.

Angela Carter, “The Company of Wolves,” The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, 1979

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

manavelins

[ muh-nav-uh-linz ]

plural noun

miscellaneous scraps or small items, especially of food or gear.

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What is the origin of manavelins?

Manavelins, “miscellaneous pieces of gear and material; odds and ends; leftovers or scraps (of food),” is originally sailors’ slang. Like many slang terms, manavelins has no reliable etymology, which helps explain the many variant spellings, such as manavalins, manarvelins, malhavelins. There is a likely connection between manavelins and the verb manarvel, manavel “to pilfer from a ship’s stores,” another item of nautical slang of unknown origin. Herman Melville was by far the most distinguished author to use manavalins (White-jacket, 1850): “Various sea-rolls, made dishes, and Mediterranean pies…all of which come under the general denomination of Manavalins.” Melville had served as a common sailor on the frigate USS United States in 1843; his publishers, Harper & Bros., sent copies of White-jacket to every member of Congress in order to show the brutality and arbitrariness of flogging. Congress outlawed flogging in 1850. Manavelins entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is manavelins used?

The sailors, however, became his friends. Though he seldom came into contact with them, when he did it was to pass into the forecastle a plate of manavelins–an unconsumed pudding or some such dainty from the cabin table–instead of throwing it overboard, as most deep-water stewards do from sheer laziness.

Morgan Robertson, "The Steward," Cosmopolitan, November, 1910

All around him there was noise—traders calling wares, seamen slinging shanties as they hauled at cables, gulls cawing as they swooped for manavilins of fish ….

Rory Clements, Traitor, 2012

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