Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, October 10, 2021

toujours perdrix

[ too-zhoor per-dree ]

too much of a good thing.

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What is the origin of toujours perdrix?

Toujours perdrix “too much of a good thing” is a direct borrowing of two French words: toujours “always” and perdrix “partridge.” Toujours derives from an Old French phrase meaning “all days” and is equivalent to Modern French tous jours. Tous (masculine singular tout) comes from Latin tōtus “whole, entire,” which is also the source of total and the Italian flavor tutti frutti “all fruits,” while jours (singular jour) comes from Latin diurnus “daily, of the day,” derivatives of which include diurnal and journal. The phrase toujours perdrix is allegedly connected to King Henri IV of France, whose spiritual adviser loved to eat partridge but, upon being served partridge for every meal, grew tired, frustrated, and spiteful of the dish. Toujours perdrix was first recorded in English in the early 1800s.

how is toujours perdrix used?

His new landlady’s ideas on the subject of cooking were of the most limited character. She gave him weak tea and bacon for breakfast without any apparent consciousness of the fact that such luxuries pall upon the taste by constant repetition, and that a diet of toujours perdrix wearies the meekest soul.

Margaret Oliphant Wilson, The Three Brothers, 1870

Quitting Auxerre, we passed a large stone cistern, with a cross on the top; several loaded donkeys were drinking here, and some women washing clothes; it was altogether a picturesque group, and singular to an English eye. Vineyards, vineyards, vineyards! toujours perdrix! I was quite tired of them at last.

Marianne Baillie, First Impressions on a Tour Upon the Continent in the Summer of 1818, 1819

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Word of the day

Saturday, October 09, 2021

armscye

[ ahrm-sahy, -zahy ]

noun

the armhole opening in a garment through which the hand, and then the arm, passes, and to which a sleeve may be attached.

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What is the origin of armscye?

Armscye “the armhole opening in a garment” is a compound of arm and the Scots term scye “armhole.” Because scye is a borrowing from another dialect and of unknown origin, a common misinterpretation is that armscye derives from a phrase such as “arm’s eye.” This mistake is known as an eggcorn, which is a type of folk etymology that refers to the alteration of a word or phrase that has been misheard or misinterpreted. The word eggcorn itself comes from a mistaken belief that acorn, which is of Old English origin, is a recent compound of Modern English egg and corn. Other eggcorns that may ring a bell include free reign instead of the correct free rein and for all intensive purposes instead of the correct for all intents and purposes. Armscye was first recorded in English in the 1920s.

how is armscye used?

Whatever his errands were in the city, they’d involved having his beard trimmed and changing into a suit of new clothes, a sad grey-blue that well suited his olive complexion. Lightning-like lines of gold lace picked out the seams …. [I]t was only at close quarters that you could see the coarseness of the weave and the straining lines across the back under the armscye that told of poor tailoring.

Suzannah Rowntree, The City Beyond the Glass, 2018

And then I saw the muscles bunched in his shoulders that had strained the threads of the armscye apart, the heft of his chest, the improbable narrowness of his hips. Hero, with wing, grounded.

Guy Davenport, "A Field of Snow on the Slope of the Rosenberg," DaVinci's Bicycle, 1979

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Word of the day

Friday, October 08, 2021

vespertine

[ ves-per-tin, -tahyn ]

adjective

of, relating to, or occurring in the evening.

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What is the origin of vespertine?

Vespertine “of, relating to, or occurring in the evening” derives from Latin vesper “evening,” which comes from a Proto-Indo-European root with the same sense. Through this root, vesper is a cognate of the English term west, with a shift in definition because of the direction of the sunset. As we learned with the recent Word of the Day aureate, which may be related to east and Latin aurōra “dawn,” there is often an overlap between the cardinal directions and the location of the sun. Another distant relative of vesper is Ancient Greek hésperos “evening,” and its derivative Hesperus “evening star” is a nickname for the planet Venus. Vespertine was first recorded in English at the turn of the 16th century.

how is vespertine used?

A bluish evening moved in, almost as if the quietened sun wanted to aid the approaching transaction, which Schumann felt in his bones might offer an answer or at least redefine the question. An un-fog-like mist came in from the Thames and mated with the vespertine light. The millions of bricks that defined, that contained the institution tried to absorb it, and some part of them did.

Brian Catling, The Erstwhile, 2016

Up Broadway Chandler moved with the vespertine dress parade. For this evening he was an exhibit as well as a gazer. … [H]e was a true son of the great city of razzle-dazzle, and to him one evening in the limelight made up for many dark ones.

O. Henry, "Lost on Dress Parade," The Four Million, 1906

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