Word of the Day

Friday, May 29, 2020

unctuous

[ uhngk-choo-uhs ]

adjective

excessively smooth, suave, or smug.

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What is the origin of unctuous?

Unctuous comes from Medieval Latin unctuōsus, “full of grease or soft fat,” a derivative of Latin unguen. All of the Middle English meanings pertain to grease, oil, or fat. It is only in the 18th century that the sense “marked by spiritual unction or holy oil” developed into the extended sense “smooth, suave, or smug,” the most common meaning of the word today. Unctuous entered English in the 14th century.

how is unctuous used?

Dwight Schrute, when last we left him, was regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pa. … He was vainglorious, unctuous, gullible, humorless, vulnerable, fascistic.

Louis Bayard, "'The Bassoon King' review: There's more to Rainn Wilson than Dwight Schrute," Washington Post, December 7, 2015

His style, moreover, struck her as being far too unctuous and effusive to be sincere.

William Edward Norris, "Citizens of the World," An Octave, 1900

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

doover

[ doo-ver ]

noun

Australian Slang.

thingamabob; thingamajig.

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What is the origin of doover?

Doover is an Australian slang word for thingamabob, thingamajig “something whose name is unknown.” As with many slang terms, an etymology (literally “true story”) for doover does not exist. The Hebrew noun dābhār “word, thing, matter” has been suggested as a source; an alteration of “do for (now)” is more likely.

how is doover used?

I carefully take little plastic doovers from the handle and top, and plier off the frame’s metal retainers without damaging them.

Cameron Woodhead, "Appetite for destruction: the art of smashing things and putting them back together," The Age, March 12, 2018

Well, not unlike my husband, who haunts hardware stores for ever newer and more complicated devices and doovers, I have become addicted to shops selling sewing bits and bobs.

Susan Kurosawa, "Toko Central: sew happy to be in Bali," The Australian, January 20, 2017

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

scilicet

[ sil-uh-set ]

adverb

to wit; namely.

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What is the origin of scilicet?

The English adverb scilicet “namely, specifically, to wit” comes from Latin scīlicet, a contraction of the phrase scīre licet “it is permitted to know, one may be sure, of course, naturally.” The infinitive of the impersonal verb licet is licēre “to be allowed,” the source of licentia “freedom, freedom to do what one wants, lack of restraint, license” (as in English). The infinitive scīre “to know” was translated into Old English as (hit is tō) witanne “That is to know, to wit,” a gerund phrase from the verb witan “to know,” which became in Middle English it is to wite “it is to be noted,” and survives in current English as to wit. Scilicet entered English in the late 14th century.

how is scilicet used?

this universal world contains other guess sorrows than yours, Viscount,—scilicet than unvarying health, unbroken leisure, and incalculable income.

Charles Reade, Christie Johnstone, 1853

Marqueray like most men kept his work and play, scilicet his political intrigues and his pursuit of Phyllida, in separate compartments.

Anthony Pryde, Marqueray's Duel, 1920

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