aromatic or herb-flavored tea.
Tisane “aromatic or herb-flavored tea” is a loanword from French, in which it indicates herbal tea, and comes from Latin ptisana, also tisana, from earlier Ancient Greek ptisanē “crushed barley,” derived from the verb ptissein “to crush.” Ptissein is related to several words of Latin origin, including pīnsere “to pound, crush,” which is the source of pistil “the seed-bearing organ of a flower” as well as pestle “a tool for grinding substances in a mortar.” Despite the similar sound and meaning, tisane is not related to tea; as we learned from the recent Word of the Day matcha, tea ultimately comes from Middle Chinese. Tisane was first recorded in English in the early 1930s.
Technically, tea comes from the evergreen plant Camellia sinensis. Oxidation transforms the flavor and color of the leaves to produce black tea, whereas green tea leaves remain relatively unprocessed. A drink produced by steeping herbs or flowers in boiling water should, strictly speaking, be called an infusion or tisane. But most of us still call these teas.
Chinese green tea first arrived in North Africa in 1854 when British ships en route to Baltic ports were forced to dock in Tangier, Morocco because of the Crimean War. “There were amazing salespeople on this ship, and they convinced the Moroccans to add … green tea to their mint tisanes .… Then it became a huge tradition,” says [author of The World in Your Teacup, Lisa Boalt] Richardson.
an informal session at which folk singers and instrumentalists perform for their own enjoyment.
Hootenanny “an informal session where folk singers and instrumentalists perform” may be a term popularized by musicians such as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, but its ultimate origin is unknown. The prevailing theory is that hootenanny stems from Appalachian dialectal English and had an earlier meaning similar to that of thingamajig—a fanciful word used when the speaker does not know the true name of the object or concept in question. As we learned from the recent Word of the Day whigmaleerie, English has developed innumerable placeholder words based on nonsensical elements, from the simpler blivit, doodad, and gadget to the more complex doohickey, thingamabob, and whatchamacallit. Hootenanny was first recorded in English in the early 1910s.
The musical activity didn’t congeal and spread to other cities until the folk revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s. These hootenannies or hoots exemplified the values and practices of the folk movement. Later, hootenannies often coincided and helped energize political and countercultural events of the 60s …. Hoots could go on for hours and much like hoedowns often included other culturally expressively [sic] rituals, such as dancing, eating, and other community integrative activities.
My to-do list has 300 items, but when my editor asked if I’d like to drink whiskey and write about it for The Wall Street Journal, I figured I could definitely add that to the list. After I learned the whiskey was named Yippee Ki-Yay, I asked if she could get it to me by Saturday because I knew I was heading to our monthly hoot. (That’s short for hootenanny, I guess I should explain.) At the hoot we play and sing old country tunes—two-, three-chord songs almost exclusively.
Tenebrific “producing darkness” is based on Latin tenebrae “darkness,” plus the adjective-forming suffix -fic. Tenebrae, which is also the source of English tenebrous “dark, gloomy, obscure,” appears to come from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning “dark” that is also the source of German Dämmerung “twilight,” Sanskrit támas “darkness,” and Welsh tywyll “dark.” Another possible relative of tenebrae is Thames, a river that runs through southeastern England, which may come from a Celtic source meaning “dark.” Related to tenebrae is the Latin adverb temere “blindly, heedlessly,” perhaps originally meaning “in the dark,” which is the source of English temerarious “reckless, rash.” Tenebrific was first recorded in the 1640s.
“Tell me what you saw,” I ventured to suggest. At the question, a veil seemed to fall between us, impalpable but tenebrific. He shook his head morosely and made no reply. The human terror, which perhaps had driven him back toward his normal self, and had made him almost communicative for the nonce, fell away from Amberville. A shadow that was darker than fear, an impenetrable alien umbrage, again submerged him.
The opening was so narrow, I had to turn sideways to squeeze through. Narrow steps led to the top. The low-ceilinged space felt tight, claustrophobic. It smelled damp, and I tasted dust on my tongue. Tenebrific shadows danced on the walls as two brilliant flashes of lightning appeared in the small roof window about six paces to my right. A moment later, the muffled boom of thunder rattled the loose floorboards.
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