• Word of the day
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    Thursday, October 04, 2018

    tump

    noun [tuhmp]
    British Dialect. a small mound, hill, or rise of ground.
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    What is the origin of tump?

    The noun tump has an obscure etymology. It is a dialect word used mostly in the British West Country (Somerset, Cornwall) and the West Midlands (around Birmingham). Tump may come from the Welsh noun twmp “round mass, hillock,” unless the Welsh word comes from English. Tump entered English in the 16th century.

    How is tump used?

    Despite the fine afternoon sunlight all around, the tump itself seemed steeped in perpetual shadow, brooding and ominous. Stephen R. Lawhead, The Spirit Well, 2012

    They buried the coffin in their garden. No cross marked it, just a brown tump in the bleak landscape. Willy Peter Reese, A Stranger to Myself, translated by Michael Hofmann, 2005

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, October 03, 2018

    notionate

    adjective [noh-shuh-nit]
    Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. strong-willed or stubborn.
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    What is the origin of notionate?

    Notionate, an adjective from the noun notion and the adjective suffix -ate, is a dialect word used mostly used in the Midland and Southern U.S., Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Notionate entered English in the 19th century.

    How is notionate used?

    He wouldn't let me give a direction. He's fussy sometimes and notionate. George Madden Martin, The House of Fulfilment, 1904

    In Saturday's stretch run, Alysheba turned rank, or sour, refusing to run in a straight line, his head twisted in the manner of notionate colts, and he came out to sideswipe second-place Cryptoclearance. Shirley Povich, "Belmont Unfolding Proves Alysheba Is Only Equine," Washington Post, June 8, 1987

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, October 02, 2018

    rewild

    verb [ree-wahyld]
    to return (land) to a more natural state: rewilding an unpopulated island for use as an animal preserve.
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    What is the origin of rewild?

    Rewild combines the word wild with the prefix re-, used to indicate withdrawal or a motion backwards toward another point. Rewild was first recorded in 1980–85.

    How is rewild used?

    "A big effort was made to rewild a huge swath of the Great Plains to its original flora, fauna and animal life," Fallows says. Gary Stoller, "Author of 'Our Towns' Best Seller Finds Ideal Vacation Spots While Seeing America Reinvent Itself," Forbes, August 21, 2018

    I argue that the three r’s of the climate-catastrophe generation – reduce, reuse, recycle – need a serious upgrade. In their place I propose resist, revolt, rewild. Mark Boyle, "My advice after a year without tech: rewild yourself," The Guardian, March 19, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, October 01, 2018

    nugacity

    noun [noo-gas-i-tee, nyoo-]
    triviality; insignificance.
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    What is the origin of nugacity?

    Nugacity is a direct borrowing from the Late Latin noun nūgācitās (stem nūgācitāt-), which first appears in the letters of St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430 a.d.). Nūgācitās means “worthlessness, frivolity” and is a derivative of the Latin adjective nūgāx (stem nūgāc-) “bungling, incompetent,” itself a derivative of the plural noun nūgae “absurdities, nonsense, frivolities, trifles” (its further etymology is unknown). Nugacity entered English in the 16th century.

    How is nugacity used?

    For this play that appears to address itself to a serious intellectual problem has almost nothing to say on the subject, and proceeds to disguise its nugacity by resorting to any number of modish--or, rather, outmoded--strategies. John Simon, "All's Well That Ends 'Good'," New York, October 25, 1982

    Somehow before I leave town I should find a graceful way to assure Jason that when I first met him I had had no inkling of that particular Aggrandizement report ... even if the disclaimer obliges me to reveal the nugacity of my financial wardrobe. Jonathan Bayliss, Gloucesterbook, 1992

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, September 30, 2018

    interloper

    noun [in-ter-loh-per]
    a person who interferes or meddles in the affairs of others.
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    What is the origin of interloper?

    Interloper originally meant “unauthorized trader who trades on his own account and violates the rights or privileges of a trade monopoly.” It also has a tricky etymology. Inter-, its first element, is obviously the Latin preposition and prefix meaning “between, among.” The problem lies mostly with the second element -loper. Some authorities say that -loper is the same as in landloper “wanderer, vagrant,” an English borrowing from Dutch landlooper dating from about 1570. English interloper dates from the end of the 16th century, but a Dutch dictionary (1767) stated that the Dutch word enterlooper, phonetically equivalent to English interloper, is a borrowing from English. It is also difficult to reconcile an English word composed of the Latin prefix with the Dutch noun looper “runner.” It is more likely that -lope (and -loper) is a Middle English dialect variant of leap, ultimately from Old Norse hlaupa “to leap, spring, climb.” Interloper entered English on the late 16th century; the sense of “meddler” dates from the mid-17th century.

    How is interloper used?

    Caruso is a veteran narrator who has voiced audiobooks for the works of Joan Didion, Louisa May Alcott, and Jonathan Safran Foer—but to me, in the moment, she was instead an interloper. What was she doing here? Who was she to intrude on my literary shiva? Arielle Pardes, "Listening Isn't Reading, but Audiobooks Still Resonate," Wired, August 1, 2018

    ... the Lorax is an environmental activist who wastes no time in berating the axe-wielding Once-ler, a shady money-grabbing interloper who lays waste to the environment to produce peculiar knitted outfits called thneeds. Nicola Davis, "Dr Seuss's Lorax 'inspired by orange Kenyan monkeys'," Guardian, July 23, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, September 29, 2018

    diapason

    noun [dahy-uh-pey-zuhn, -suhn]
    Music. a full, rich outpouring of melodious sound.
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    What is the origin of diapason?

    The English noun diapason comes from the Latin noun diapāsōn “musical interval of the octave,” extracted from the Greek phrase dià pāsôn (chordôn) “through all (the notes),” from the full phrase hē dià pāsôn chordôn symphōnía “the concord through all the notes of the scale.” Diapason entered English in the 14th century.

    How is diapason used?

    ... and from the dell below rose in the night, now the monotonous chanting of the frogs, and now, as some great bull-frog took the note, a diapason worthy of a Brescian organ. Stanley J. Weyman, Count Hannibal, 1901

    ... [Harley] concluded a speech which, for popular effect, had never been equalled in that hall, amidst a diapason of cheers that threatened to bring down the rafters. Edward Bulwer Lytton, My Novel; or, Varieties in English Life, 1853

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, September 28, 2018

    applesauce

    noun [ap-uhl-saws]
    Slang. nonsense; bunk.
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    What is the origin of applesauce?

    Applesauce is a straightforward compound noun. The original sense is first recorded in the 17th century. The American slang term first appears in Ring Lardner (1885–1933) and then in the novel Appointment in Samarra (1934) by John O’Hara (1905–70).

    How is applesauce used?

    Nonsense! Fiddlesticks! Baloney! Phoo! Poo! Poppycock! Bah! Twaddle! Don't be silly! My eye! In your hat! That's pure applesauce! Dean Koontz, Life Expectancy, 2004

    The opinion offers several new candidates for a master list of Scalia’s best turns-of-phrase, which should be published as a book as far as we are concerned. One example: the majority’s reasoning? “Pure applesauce,” he wrote. Elise Viebeck, "Scalia on King ruling: 'Pure applesauce'," Washington Post, June 25, 2015

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