cheap and pretentious display.
Tinselry, “cheap and pretentious display,” is an obvious combination of the noun tinsel and the noun suffix –ry (a form of –ery). Tinsel, though, is an interesting word. It is a shortening of Middle French estincelle “spangle, spark” (source of the English noun stencil), from Old French estencele, estincele “a spark, flash,” from an unrecorded Vulgar Latin stincilla, a transposed variant of Latin scintilla. By the 14th and 15th centuries, French had lost the pronunciation of the s in es-, and estincelle developed into modern French étincelle. In Anglo-French the initial e– also disappeared, giving tencel, tincel. The earliest Middle English examples show tinsel, tinselle used as an adjective in tinselle satin, satin made to sparkle or glitter by brocading with or interweaving gold or silver thread, or by overlaying the satin with a thin coating of gold or silver. Tinselry entered English in the 19th century.
Hence neither romance nor whim should be allowed to remove one useful feature, and substitute for it the gaudy and useless tinselry of false taste.
But if it be true that the Emperor William, having the substance of power, could afford to dispense with some of its tinselry, and was personally of simple tastes, it is still true only in a sense which it is important to remember.
Informal or Facetious.
any science or branch of knowledge.
The only people who would object to the formation of the colloquial noun ology, “any science or field of knowledge,” are those cranky, old-fangled philologists who insist on writing with a quill pen. Admittedly ology is a malformation—perversion if you like—for the correct (but meaningless) logy, but ology is easily extracted from common nouns like biology, geology, or theology, in which the –o– is a connecting vowel between the two halves of the word and not part of the combining form –logy. Ology entered English in the early 19th century.
You learnt a great deal, Louisa, and so did your brother. Ologies of all kinds from morning to night.
This home was in a large town, and my uncle a professor of philosophy, chemistry, geology, mineralogy, and many other ologies.
having branches that are erect and parallel, tapering to a pointed top.
The rare adjective fastigiate, “having branches that are erect and parallel, tapering to a pointed top, like a Lombardy poplar,” is used only in botany and zoology. It comes from Medieval Latin fastīgātus “high, lofty,” from Latin fastīgium “height, highest point, summit, taper.” Fastigiate entered English in the 17th century.
Most gardeners, looking for vertical features in a border, will turn to some conifer or other fastigiate shrub …
When one of two fastigiate oaks by her front door blew down in a hurricane, she watched it right itself, then called an arborist to prune its slender, upright branches.
frank and simple good-heartedness; a good-natured manner; friendliness; geniality.
The English noun bonhomie, “frank and simple good-heartedness, friendliness,” still feels French and foreign. The French original, bonhomie, bonhommie, which appeared only 40 years before the English noun, has the same meaning as the English. Bonhomie is a derivative of the Middle and Old French bon homme, bonhom, literally “good man” and later “commoner, peasant.” Even today in French-speaking countries bonhomme is a respectful form of address. Bon homme comes from Latin bonus homō; its plural, bonī hominēs, especially referred to the Albigensian heretics (also Cathars or Cathari), who were exterminated in the 13th century by the Inquisition. Bonhomie entered English in the second half of the 18th century.
Lennon would fire up his fellow Beatles with a bit of call-and-response bonhomie. “Where are we going, fellas?” he’d ask, to which Paul, George, and Ringo would respond, “To the toppermost of the poppermost, Johnny!”
Einstein’s manner was full of charm and bonhomie.
the transposition of initial or other sounds of words, usually by accident, as in a blushing crow for a crushing blow.
Spoonerisms, often hilarious, are named after the 19th-century Anglican clergyman William Archibald Spooner, warden of New College, Oxford University. The Reverend Spooner himself claimed as his only spoonerism “The Kinquering Congs Their Titles Take” (1879), a mangling of the name of the hymn “The Conquering Kings Their Titles Take.” In American English the most famous spoonerism must be the one made by the old-time radio announcer Harry von Zell, who in a live broadcast in 1931 announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Hoobert Heever.” Spoonerism entered English about 1900.
Spoonerisms are the comfortable shoes of slips of the tongue: when it comes time to illustrate the universality speech errors, they’re so familiar and broken in, they always get a laugh.
Other words the BFG coins are from errors. For example, in spoonerisms snapperwhipper, dory-hunky and catasterous disastrophe, the initial syllables have been swapped.
verb (used with object)
to eat quickly and voraciously; scarf (often followed by down or up).
Snarf, “to eat greedily or voraciously,” is a slang word, originally American, and like many if not most slang terms, it has an obscure etymology. Some authorities claim snarf to be a variant of scarf “to eat greedily,” or a combination of the verbs snort and scarf. Snarf is just as likely to be onomatopoeic, as of the sound of pigs feeding at a trough. Snarf entered English in the late 1960s.
“My kids snarf these like candy,” he said.
We don’t just snarf down the Hershey bars and gummy bears directly from the bag. We pour ourselves a glass of wine as well ….
a good deed or favor; an instance of kindness: benignities born of selfless devotion.
Benignity comes via Old and Middle French from the Latin noun benignitās (inflectional stem benignitāt-) “kindness, graciousness, friendliness,” a derivative of the adjective benignus “kind, gracious, benign.” Benignus is composed of the adverb bene “well, neatly, rightly” (from the adjective bonus “good”) and –gnus, a suffix derived from the base of the verb gignere “to beget” (the sense is “good by nature, naturally good”; consider its English opposite, malign). Benignity entered English in the second half of the 14th century.
… there are young men and maidens pacing to and fro beside me, and to them the moon is only one of the innumerable benignities with which nature smiles on youth and love.
with a thousand generous benignities she stifled my ‘no’s,’ … and all I had breath to say at last, was, that ‘there was time enough for plans of that kind.’