Word of the Day

Thursday, October 15, 2020

totis viribus

[ toh-tis -wee-ri-boos; English toh-tis -vir-uh-buhs ]

adverb

Latin.

with all one's might.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of totis viribus?

The English adverbial phrase totis viribus, “with all (one’s) might,” comes straight from the Latin phrase tōtīs vīribus, the ablative plural of the adjective tōtus “all, entire, the whole of” and the noun vīs (plural inflectional stem vīr-) “strength, physical strength, force.” More fully, the phrase tōtīs vīribus is an ablative of manner, just in case it’s on tomorrow’s quiz. Totis viribus is uncommon in English; it is used, as one would expect, mostly by lawyers. Vīs has an exact equivalent in Greek ĩs (also wĩs in some dialects), “force, might,” a Homeric word that appears in the instrumental case form ĩphi in the poetic formulas ĩphi máchesthai “to fight with strength,” and ĩphi anássein “to rule with might.” Totis viribus entered English in the 16th century.

how is totis viribus used?

As a fictitious autobiographer—in the power, or at least in the fidelity, of first conceiving a character, and then throwing himself into it totis viribus, and by ten thousand strokes of humour, sense, an observation … Mr. Galt surpasses every writer certainly of this day, and perhaps of any time.

"Review of New Books: Bogle Corbet; or, the Emigrants", The London and Paris Observer, June 12, 1831

If a man say totis viribus, he will resist. The literal meaning is not that he will resist by blood or by force of arms. It is a common expression among lawyers at the bar, “I will resist such an attempt totis viribus.”

Argued by Moses Levy, "The Trial of Frederick Eberle and Others for Conspiracy to Prevent the Use of the English Language, 1816," American State Trials, Vol. 12, 1919

Listen to the word of the day

totis viribus

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

doldrums

[ dohl-druhmz, dol-, dawl- ]

noun

(used with a plural verb)

a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of doldrums?

Doldrums is the plural of doldrum, which had two very early meanings: the plural doldrums meant “a state or period of inactivity or stagnation” (1811), the singular doldrum “a dullard, a slow, stupid person” (1812). The later, sailing sense of doldrum, “a becalmed ship,” dates to 1823, and “a region in which ships are likely to become becalmed” dates to 1855. The etymology of doldrum(s) is difficult: it seems to have originated as a slang term (and slang terms are notoriously difficult to etymologize), possibly from dold “stupid,” originally a past participle of Middle English dollen, dullen “to dull,” or possibly from the adjective dull. The second syllable, –drum, is probably the same as in tantrum, which, unfortunately, has no satisfactory etymology. Doldrum and doldrums entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is doldrums used?

countries in economic doldrums may exit the pandemic more reliant on Chinese capital and markets rather than less so.

Richard Fontaine, "China Has Squandered Its First Great Opportunity," The Atlantic, July 30, 2020

A decade later, amid the doldrums of the 1970s, politicians were starting to worry about the financial implications of government regulations.

Adam Rogers, "How Much Is a Human Life Actually Worth?" Wired, May 11, 2020

Listen to the word of the day

doldrums

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

scunner

[ skuhn-er ]

noun

an irrational dislike; loathing.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of scunner?

Those who are addicted to the late, great, dearly missed Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series of novels (41 of them!), particularly The Wee Free Men (2003) and its sequels, will be familiar with the Wee Free Men’s constant use of scunner, a term hard to define past “dislike, aversion, or a source of dislike or aversion” (as indefinable as Huck Finn’s fantods). The Wee Free Men are not talking gibberish or nonsense; they are speaking Scots. The verb scunner (also scurnen, skurne) “to shrink back in disgust or fear, quail, hesitate” is first recorded about 1425. Its further history is unknown, but some authorities think it is related to scornen “to despise, be contemptuous, hold in disdain.” Scunner entered English in the 14th century.

how is scunner used?

Many are in search of a copy of A Moveable Feast. This is not always on offer because, for some reason which I can’t remember, Whitman took a scunner to Hemingway.

Alan Massie, "Shakespeare and Company: the bookshop where you could read in bed," Telegraph, December 15, 2011

Ever since my school days I’ve always taken a scunner to businessmen. They’ll do anything for money.

Sōseki Natsume, I Am a Cat, translated by Aiko Ito & Graeme Wilson, 1972

Listen to the word of the day

scunner

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.