Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, December 09, 2019

tinselry

[ tin-suhl-ree ]

noun

cheap and pretentious display.

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What is the origin of tinselry?

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.

how is tinselry used?

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.

W. H. Barnes, "A Homily on Homes," The Ladies' Repository, Vol. 16, January 1856

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.

Herbert Tuttle, "The Emperor William," The Atlantic Monthly, May 1888
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Sunday, December 08, 2019

ology

[ ol-uh-jee ]

noun

Informal or Facetious.

any science or branch of knowledge.

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What is the origin of ology?

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.

how is ology used?

You learnt a great deal, Louisa, and so did your brother. Ologies of all kinds from morning to night.

Charles Dickens, Hard Times, 1854

This home was in a large town, and my uncle a professor of philosophy, chemistry, geology, mineralogy, and many other ologies.

Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth, translated in 1871
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Saturday, December 07, 2019

fastigiate

[ fa-stij-ee-it, -eyt ]

adjective

having branches that are erect and parallel, tapering to a pointed top.

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What is the origin of fastigiate?

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.

how is fastigiate used?

Most gardeners, looking for vertical features in a border, will turn to some conifer or other fastigiate shrub …

Christopher Lloyd, "Alternative means of support," Horticulture, November 1995

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.

Anne Raver, "Gardens in the Buff," New York Times, January 29, 2004
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