Word of the Day

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

tussie-mussie

[ tuhs-ee-muhs-ee ]

noun

a small bunch of flowers or herbs.

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What is the origin of tussie-mussie?

There is no clear etymology for tussie-mussie “bunch of flowers, nosegay.” The Middle English form, tusemose, and the 17th-century form tussimussie, suggest an assumed Middle English tus or tusse “cluster of flowers.” Tussie-mussie entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is tussie-mussie used?

The world would be a kinder and gentler place if we all exchanged tussie-mussies instead of badmouthing people behind their backs or unfriending them on Facebook.

Claire Cook, The Wildwater Walking Club: Back on Track, 2017

When those were finished, they turned to the tussie-mussies–handheld herbal nosegays in which each plant has a special significance–for the women guests.

Susan Wittig Albert, Lavender Lies, 1999
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Monday, April 30, 2018

Machiavellian

[ mak-ee-uh-vel-ee-uhn ]

adjective

characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty: He resorted to Machiavellian tactics in order to get ahead.

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What is the origin of Machiavellian?

Machiavellian is an adjective derived from Machiavelli, the family name of the Florentine diplomat, historian, and political philosopher Niccolò Bernardo Machiavelli (1469–1527). He wrote his most famous work The Prince (Il Principe) in 1513 while in exile from Florence. Machiavellian entered English in the 16th century.

how is Machiavellian used?

I need to tell you about my shamefully Machiavellian motive for sending her packing and the subdolous way in which her death facilitated my crowning achievement.

Clanash Farjeon, A Handbook for Attendants on the Insane: The Autobiography of 'Jack the Ripper' as Revealed to Clanash Farjeon, 2003

The doctor’s mind pursued its own schemes with Machiavellian subtlety.

Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, 1904
Sunday, April 29, 2018

vagility

[ vuh-jil-i-tee ]

noun

Biology. the ability of an organism to move about freely and migrate.

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What is the origin of vagility?

The rare English adjective vagile is restricted to biology and refers to an organism’s being able to scatter or be scattered in an environment. The English adjective comes from German vagil, of the same meaning. The German adjective derives from Latin vagus “wandering, roaming.” The German suffix -il and the English suffix -ile come directly from Latin -ilis, -ile; the English suffix -ity comes from Latin -itat- (the stem of -itās) via Old French -te (French -té). Vagility entered English in the 20th century.

how is vagility used?

Using the GPS collars that updated an animal’s location regularly and other data, the project found that vagility—the ability of an organism to move—declines in areas with human footprints by as much as half to two-thirds the distance than in places where there is little or no human activity.

Jim Robbins, "Animals Are Losing Their Vagility, or Ability to Roam Freely," New York Times, February 19, 2018

With this combination of low vagility and narrow habitat requirements, the mayfly faunas of islands around New Zealand provide a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of isolation, dispersal ability and the response of communities to reduced diversity.

D. R. Towns, "The mayflies (Ephemeroptera) of Great Barrier Island, New Zealand: macro- and micro-distributional comparisons," Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Volume 17, 1987

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