Word of the Day

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

tmesis

[ tuh-mee-sis ]

noun

the interpolation of one or more words between the parts of a compound word, as be thou ware for beware.

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What is the origin of tmesis?

Tmesis is not a misspelling of thesis; tmêsis “cutting” is a Greek noun, a derivative of the verb témnein “to cut, prune, castrate.” Tmesis is a feature of the archaic epic syntax of the Iliad and Odyssey, in which there is a separation of an adverb (which becomes a prefix in Classical Greek) from its verb by an intervening word or phrase, as in the Iliad en d’autòs edýseto nṓropa chalkòn “… and he himself put on his gleaming bronze,” where the adverb en is separated from its verb edýseto by the phrase d’autòs “and he himself.” Tmesis is rare and archaic in modern English, as in “Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words” (that is, “Beware of him, yourself…”), 2 Timothy 4:15, Authorized Version. More than a few of us may admit familiarity with tmesis as it occurs in such adjectives as fantastic or unbelievable or in adverbs like absolutely, in which the fan-, un-, and abso– are separated from the rest of the word by an overworked vulgarism.

how is tmesis used?

You may remember Matt Foley, the in-your-face motivational speaker played by the late comedian Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live, whose “Well, la-dee-frickin’-da” was all the funnier for its tmesis.

Rebecca Cohen, "How I Met Your Mother's 'Legen—Wait for it—Dary' Is More Compli-Freaking-Cated Than You Think," Slate, April 16, 2014

Tmesis … means the insertion of one word into the middle of another word, as in abso-bloody-lutely or to-very-day. Most often we insert four-letter expletives, which cannot be printed in a newspaper but can only be suggested by substituting something like the British “bloody.”

Carl Strock, "Spirit Of Tmesis Lives To-Very-Day," Schenectady Gazette, February 4, 1989
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Monday, July 01, 2019

orgulous

[ awr-gyuh-luhs, ‐guh‐ ]

adjective

haughty; proud.

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What is the origin of orgulous?

The English adjective orgulous has about as many spelling variants in Middle English (orgeilus, orgeyllous, orguillous, etc.) as its Old French source (orguillus, orguilleus, orgueilleux, etc.). The base of the French word is a Germanic (Frankish) noun, cognate with Old English orgol, orgel “pride,” and akin to the Old High German adjective urguol “outstanding.” Shakespeare uses orgillous once, in Troilus and Cressida, but the adjective was obsolete by the mid-17th century, only to be resuscitated by Sir Walter Scott and Robert Southey in the first half of the 19th century.

how is orgulous used?

The princes orgulous, their high blood chafed / Have to the port of Athens sent their ships …

William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, 1623

Ah, he is an orgulous man!

Georgette Heyer, My Lord John, 1973
Sunday, June 30, 2019

jubilate

[ joo-buh-leyt ]

verb (used without object)

to celebrate a joyful occasion.

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What is the origin of jubilate?

The verb jubilate sounds as if it must have a Hebrew origin from its being the first word of Psalms 65 and 100 in the Vulgate: Jūbilāte “Shout for joy.” But the Latin verb jūbilāre is a derivative of the Proto-Indo-European root -, yu– “to shout in exultation,” from which Greek derives iýzein “to shout aloud” (with several derivatives), and Middle High German derives and jūch, expressions of joy. Jubilate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is jubilate used?

… spectators mill around, dance, and jubilate in Imelda’s rise to power, while feeling uneasy about how much fun they’re having.

Michael Schulman, "Bling Ring," The New Yorker, May 6, 2013

Then there were their children, the sabras, blond, husky women, and men: earnest people for all that they could dance and jubilate.

Belva Plain, Evergreen, 1978

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