• Word of the day
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    Saturday, May 12, 2018

    truthiness

    noun [troo-thee-nis]
    the quality of seeming to be true according to one's intuition, opinion, or perception without regard to logic, factual evidence, or the like: the growing trend of truthiness as opposed to truth.
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    What is the origin of truthiness?

    Truthiness in the 19th century meant “truthfulness, veracity”; this sense is rare nowadays. Its current sense, “the quality of seeming to be true according to one's opinion without regard to fact,” was invented by the comedian Stephen Colbert in 2005.

    How is truthiness used?

    Truthiness is "truth that comes from the gut, not books," Colbert said in 2005. Katy Waldman, "The Science of Truthiness," Slate, September 3, 2014

    A Rovian political strategy by definition means all slime, all the time. But the more crucial Rove game plan is to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness. Frank Rich, "Truthiness Stages a Comeback," New York Times, September 20, 2008

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, May 11, 2018

    cordillera

    noun [kawr-dl-yair-uh, -air-uh, kawr-dil-er-uh]
    a chain of mountains, usually the principal mountain system or mountain axis of a large landmass.
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    What is the origin of cordillera?

    The English noun cordillera is a borrowing of Spanish cordillera “chain or ridge of mountains.” The Spanish noun is a diminutive of cuerda “rope, string,” from Latin chorda “chord, cord, intestine (as food)” itself a borrowing of Greek chordḗ “guts, sausage, string (of rope or of a lyre).” Cordillera originally applied to the Andes Mountains and later to the same mountain chain in Central America and Mexico. Cordillera entered English in the early 18th century.

    How is cordillera used?

    In the Western Hemisphere, the term Cordillera was first applied to the Cordillera de los Andes or Andes Mountains, which form a compact and continuous bundle of ranges along the western side of South America. Philip Burke King, Evolution of North America, 1959

    The dawn breaks high behind the towering and serrated wall of the Cordillera, a clear-cut vision of dark peaks rearing their steep slopes on a lofty pedestal of forest rising from the very edge of the shore. Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, 1904

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, May 10, 2018

    hypocorism

    noun [hahy-pok-uh-riz-uhm, hi-]
    a pet name.
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    What is the origin of hypocorism?

    The very rare English noun hypocorism comes from the equally rare Latin noun hypocorisma “a diminutive (word),” a direct borrowing of Greek hypokórisma “pet name, endearing name; diminutive (word),” a derivative of the verb hypokorízesthai “to play the child, call by an endearing name.” Hypokorízesthai is a compound formed from the prefix hypo-, here meaning “slightly, somewhat,” and korízesthai “to caress, fondle.” The root of korízesthai is the noun kórē “girl, maiden” or kóros “boy, youth.” The Greek nouns are from the same Proto-Indo-European root ker- “to grow” as the Latin Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, and its derivative adjective cereālis “pertaining to Ceres,” the source of English cereal. Hypocorism entered English in the 19th century.

    How is hypocorism used?

    Powsoddy, a now obsolete name for a pudding, was also used as a hypocorism in the late sixteenth century, paralleling the affectionate use of the word pudding itself in our own century, though lovers usually alter the pronunciation to puddin. Mark Morton, The Lover's Tongue, 2003

    The addition of diminutive or familiar prefixes and suffixes to the name of a saint to produce a 'pet name' or hypocorism, is common in the Celtic areas ... Karen Jankulak, The Medieval Cult of St Petroc, 2000

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, May 09, 2018

    suborn

    verb [suh-bawrn]
    to bribe or induce (someone) unlawfully or secretly to perform some misdeed or to commit a crime.
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    What is the origin of suborn?

    The Latin verb subornāre, the ultimate source of English suborn, is composed of the prefix sub- “under, subordinate, near to, partially, secretly” and the verb ornāre “to prepare, equip, arrange.” Ornāre is from an assumed ordnāre, a derivative of the noun ordō (stem ordin-) “line, row, rank, grade.” Subornāre has several meanings: when the sense of the verb ornāre predominates, the compound means “to supply, furnish; to dress up (in costume or disguise); when the sense of the prefix sub-, meaning “secretly, covertly,” predominates, the compound means “to instigate secretly or underhandedly, prepare clandestinely.” An extension of this last sense, “to induce someone to commit a crime or perjury,” from suborner in Old and Middle French, is its current sense in English. Suborn entered English in the 16th century.

    How is suborn used?

    ... he had been concerned “because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals.” Elizabeth Olson, "Former C.I.A. Chief John Brennan to Become a Fellow at Fordham," New York Times, September 4, 2017

    ... I had been brought in as a spy, to help in betraying him, and Joyce had suborned him to the act of treachery. Bram Stoker, The Snake's Pass, 1890

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, May 08, 2018

    infomania

    noun [in-fuh-mey-nee-uh, -foh-]
    Digital Technology. a. an obsessive need to constantly check emails, social media websites, online news, etc.: The fear of being out of the loop, not in the know, fuels infomania, especially among teens. b. the effects of this obsession, especially a decline in the ability to concentrate: She attributes her increasingly poor “life management skills” to infomania.
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    What is the origin of infomania?

    Infomania is a modern combination of information and mania. It entered English in the 1970s.

    How is infomania used?

    The Bagus Gran Cyber Cafés are Tokyo's grand temples of infomania. ... At first glance the spread looks officelike, but be warned: these places are drug dens for Internet addicts. Virginia Heffernan, "In Tokyo, the New Trend Is 'Media Immersion Pods'," New York Times, May 14, 2006

    Since then, he has led the charge at Intel to deal with "infomania," which he describes as a debilitating state of mental overload--caused by backlogs of e-mail, plus interruptions such as e-mail notifications, cell phones and instant messages. Stephanie Overby, "A Cure for Infomania," CIO, July 1, 2007

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, May 07, 2018

    ocellated

    adjective [os-uh-ley-tid, oh-sel-ey-tid]
    having eyelike spots or markings.
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    What is the origin of ocellated?

    The English adjective ocellated is a derivative of the Latin noun ocellus “(little) eye,” a diminutive of oculus “eye.” Ocellus is used especially in affectionate language, equivalent to “apple of my eye” or “darling.” As a horticultural term, ocellus means “incision made in the bark for inserting a bud or scion.” The only modern sense of ocellus does not occur in Latin; it is a zoological term meaning “simple eye or light-sensitive organ; a colored spot on birds’ feathers or butterflies” and dates from the 18th century.

    How is ocellated used?

    ... Méline's nose and eyes are such that you would swear you were looking at an ocellated butterfly, perching on a rosebud. Éric Chevillard, On the Ceiling, translated by Jordan Stump, 2000

    Fantasia was quick to push close the door behind them, although when doing so momentarily trapped the end of the cockbird's ocellated or 'eyed' tail-feathers which, as a consequence, gave the signal for pandemonium to break loose. Jeremy Mallinson, The Count's Cats, 2004

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, May 06, 2018

    sabulous

    adjective [sab-yuh-luhs]
    sandy; gritty.
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    What is the origin of sabulous?

    The English adjective sabulous is a clear-cut borrowing from Latin sabulōsus ”gravelly, sandy,” a derivative of sabulum “coarse sand, gravel.” Sabulum comes from an assumed Italic psaflom. (Italic is the branch of the Indo-European language family that includes Latin, Oscan, Umbrian, and the modern Romance languages.) Psaflom comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root bhes- “to rub” as Greek psêphos “pebble” and Germanic sandam (Old English and English sand, German Sand). Sabulous entered English in the 17h century.

    How is sabulous used?

    But clearly the beach is also a stage, a studio, indeed an arena, sabulous or otherwise, at the heart of the culture. Peter D. Osborne, Travelling light, 2000

    The plants rose from the stones like a conjurer's trick, working roots down into hidden pockets of sabulous soil ... Olivia Laing, To the River, 2011

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