Word of the Day

Saturday, December 08, 2018

trimming

[ trim-ing ]

noun

anything used or serving to decorate or complete: the trimmings of a Christmas tree.

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What is the origin of trimming?

It is quite a jump to go from Byrhtnoth, Ealdorman of Essex, arranging his men in battle order (trymian) against the Vikings (recorded in the magnificent Old English poem The Battle of Maldon) to cranberry sauce and creamed onions with the Thanksgiving turkey. The Old English adjective trum “strong, firm” is the source of the verb trymian, trymman “to encourage, strengthen, prepare.” The Old English noun trymming, derived from the verb, means “strengthening, confirmation, edification, establishment.” The modern spelling trimming first appears in the first half of the 16th century with several meanings. One is “the repair or preparation of equipment, especially fitting out of a ship,” e.g., “trimming of the sails.” A second sense, all but contemporaneous with the first, is “adornment, dressing one’s hair or beard, dressing up.” A third sense of trimming, perhaps associated with the notion of dressing (up), is “a rebuke, a beating,” that is, “a dressing down.” In the early 17th century, trimming, especially in the plural, and typically in the phrase “all the trimmings,” meant “ordinary accessories (as for a house or cooked meat).” In the early 19th century, trimming acquired the meaning “pieces cut off, cuttings, scraps.”

how is trimming used?

It was after eleven when William in his socks made his way to the attic where the trimmings for the tree were stored.

Mary Roberts Rinehart, "The Butler's Christmas Eve," Alibi for Isabel, 1944

Painting china, carving wood, button-holing butterflies and daisies onto Turkish towelling, and making peacock-feather trimming, amused her for a time …

Louisa May Alcott, "What Becomes of the Pins," Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag, Volume 5: Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore, Etc., 1879
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Friday, December 07, 2018

scrooch

[ skrooch ]

verb

Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. to crouch, squeeze, or huddle (usually followed by down, in, or up).

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What is the origin of scrooch?

Scrooch “to crouch, squeeze, huddle” was originally a U.S. colloquial and dialect word. It is probably a variant of scrouge “to squeeze, crowd,” itself a blend of the obsolete verb scruze “to squeeze” and gouge. To make things even more unclear, scruze itself is a blend of screw and bruise. Scrooch entered English in the 19th century.

how is scrooch used?

When you want to get up again, you sort of scrooch forward and the chair comes up straight so you don’t have to dislocate your sciatica trying to get out of the pesky thing.

Charlotte MacLeod, Something the Cat Dragged In, 1984

Myr Korso, please tell him to scrooch down if he has to be there.

James Tiptree, Jr., Brightness Falls from the Air, 1985
Thursday, December 06, 2018

athenaeum

[ ath-uh-nee-uhm, -ney- ]

noun

a library or reading room.

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What is the origin of athenaeum?

Athenaeum ultimately derives from Greek Athḗnaion, the name of the temple of Athena in ancient Athens where poets read their works. It entered English in the 1720s.

how is athenaeum used?

The back of his state-issued S.U.V. is stacked with notebooks filled with ideas and data culled from books and articles and conversations with nearly four hundred experts; it’s a kind of rolling athenaeum.

Tad Friend, "Gavin Newsom, the Next Head of the California Resistance," The New Yorker, November 5, 2018

At the top of the main staircase, with patterned risers and leather-covered treads, a bedroom was turned into the Athenaeum, or classical library.

Julie Lasky, "A Victorian Wonderland in Park Slope," New York Times, March 16, 2018

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