Word of the Day

Saturday, December 22, 2018

turtledove

[ tur-tl-duhv ]

noun

a sweetheart or beloved mate.

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What is the origin of turtledove?

The turtle in turtledove has nothing to do with the aquatic and terrestrial reptile whose trunk is enclosed in a shell. The ultimate derivation of the reptilian turtle is Greek Tartaroûchos “controlling Tartarus, holding the nether world”; the word turtle entered English in the 17th century. Turtledove is a compound of Old English turtla, from Latin turtur “turtledove,” imitating the call of the bird. Dove comes from Old English dufe, dūfe and is related to the verb dive. Similar forms are found in other Germanic languages. Turtledove entered English in the 14th century.

how is turtledove used?

You look anything but miserable, my turtledove. In fact, I never saw you look so well.

E. F. Harkins, The Schemers, 1903

A whole new world was mine the day … I met my turtledove … for since we’ve been together … my heart has been in love.

Ben Burroughs, "Since We Met," Gettysburg Times, February 2, 1962
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Friday, December 21, 2018

hibernal

[ hahy-bur-nl ]

adjective

of or relating to winter; wintry.

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What is the origin of hibernal?

Hibernal “wintry, appearing in winter” and also “pertaining to the winter of life” comes straight from the Late Latin adjective hībernālis “wintry,” first appearing in the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible as edited or translated by St. Jerome). Hībernālis comes from Latin hībernus, which comes from a hypothetical Proto-Indo-European adjective gheimrinos, source also of Greek cheimerinós “in winter, winter’s,” and Slavic (Polish) zimny “cold.” Gheimrinos is formed from the Proto-Indo-European root ghei-, ghi- “snow, winter.” The form ghimo- appears in the Sanskrit noun himá- “cold, frost, snow,” familiar to us in the Himālaya Mountains, “Snow’s abode.” Hibernal entered English in the 17th century.

how is hibernal used?

The sky was in its grey wintry mood where there is no blue break in the clouds to be expected, no bright spell to hope for, nothing for it but to accept the hibernal darkness the way you accept love or death.

Jean Rouaud, The World More or Less, translated by Barbara Wright, 1998

Here’s where to engage in sledding, animal tracking, tree tapping, cross-country skiing, and other hibernal pursuits without ever leaving town.

, "Out in the Cold," New York, January 12, 1981
Thursday, December 20, 2018

gewgaw

[ gyoo-gaw, goo- ]

noun

something gaudy and useless; trinket; bauble.

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What is the origin of gewgaw?

Gewgaw derives from Middle English giuegaue. It is a gradational compound of uncertain origin, perhaps akin to the Middle French and French term gogo, as in the adverb à gogo meaning “as much as you like; to your heart’s content; galore.” It’s been used in English since the late 12th century or the early 13th century.

how is gewgaw used?

The Star was proving particularly awkward … it was refusing to look like the resplendent gewgaw it was.

Michael Innes, Honeybath's Haven, 1977

If nothing’s missing, if every handkerchief, knick-knack, piece of cut glass, every gewgaw is accounted for, we heave a great sigh of relief.

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Death on the Installment Plan, translated by Ralph Manheim, 1966

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