a devotee of archery; archer.
Toxophilite “a devotee of archery” is based on the term Toxophilus “bow-lover,” which Roger Ascham coined for his book of the same name published in 1545. Toxophilus is based on Ancient Greek tóxon “bow” and phílos “loving, dear,” the latter of which we learned about from the recent Word of the Day philtrum. If you were wondering whether tóxon is related to the English word toxic, you have good instincts! Toxic ultimately comes from Ancient Greek toxikòn (phármakon) “bow (poison),” that is, poison used on arrows. Tóxon may be related to or derived from an Iranian source; compare Persian takhsh “cross-bow, arrow.” Toxophilite was first recorded in English circa 1790.
Apollo used to be an Olympic-class archer, a toxophilite of the first rank, until he took a bribe from a betting syndicate and blew a contest he should have won easily.
extremely unpleasant or distasteful.
Bilious “extremely unpleasant or distasteful” comes from Latin bīliōsus, which is formed from the noun bīlis “bile” and the suffix -ōsus “full of, containing.” The origins of bīlis are mysterious, but that has not stopped linguists from developing theories. One hypothesis, however flimsy, is a connection to Latin fel “gallbladder; venom, poison,” which could point to a derivation from the Proto-Indo-European root bhel- “to shine; white, yellow,” but this is a bit of a stretch of phonetic logic. Another option, in light of some potential cognates of bīlis in Celtic languages (such as Welsh bustl “gall, bile”), could point to a pre-Indo-European source from which only the Celtic and Italic languages borrowed the term. Alternatively, bīlis and its Celtic cognates could be distantly related to English bite because of bile’s digestive effects. Bilious was first recorded in English circa 1540.
Almost hypnotized by the distant glow, by that ghost-light that spun and bobbed over the dark mound, the boy stared for a time. Between fear and cold, he became unaware even of his own shaking. Minutes later, racing along, the boy felt that something was wrong. While he should have felt relief at leaving that forsaken encampment, his stomach felt leaden. The hairs on the back of his neck were prickling. Turning, he saw the streaming ball of bilious light, winding its way through the air behind him. The ghost was chasing him.
The euphoria of discovery conveyed by Richard Greenberg through a gay outsider who becomes an impassioned baseball fan hasn’t dimmed a bit in the two decades since Take Me Out was first produced. Other things, however, have changed …. Issues that once seemed too reflective of the playwright’s hand at work now seem urgently keyed into a contemporary world in which masculine anxiety and its bilious consequences are being held up for scrutiny.
a tip, present, or gratuity.
Baksheesh “a tip, present, or gratuity” is adapted from Persian bakhshish “gift,” a noun derived from the verb bakhshidan “to give.” Because Persian is a member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family, bakhshidan comes from a Proto-Indo-European root, bhag- “to share out, apportion, receive a share”; we learned about this root previously as the source of the Word of the Day nebbish, which comes from a Slavic term meaning “poor”—or, originally, “not having received a share.” As we saw earlier this week with the Word of the Day auriferous, the Proto-Indo-European sound bh (“buh” pronounced with a puff of air) often becomes ph in Ancient Greek, which explains how bhag- becomes phagein “to eat,” as in esophagus as well as the combining form -phage, which is used to designate cells that eat foreign particles and bacteria. Baksheesh was first recorded in English in 1620.
It didn’t take long before my rapidly thinning wallet made me see I had to modify this habit. What’s more, I discovered there were many parts of the world in which my New York City-style baksheesh was considered inappropriate, even eccentric. In tip-free Japan, where cash is king, and prices, by custom, include all services, I’ve actually had hotel housekeepers chase after me with the tip I’d left for them in the room.
The sidewalk thrummed with relentless energy. I was immediately enshrouded in a scrim of shouts, laughter, arguments, haggling, vigorous demands for baksheesh. The Cairenes shoved past in djellabas and jeans, T-shirts and head scarves. You could still see men wearing red fezzes, tassels wagging as they rushed by. The temperature was well over 100, but no one wore shorts.
Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox