verb (used without object)
to move with a sinuous or wavelike motion; display a smooth rising-and-falling or side-to-side alternation of movement: The flag undulates in the breeze.
Something that undulates, as a flag or rhythm, moves side to side or rises and falls like a wave. Indeed, its origin is Latin unda “wave,” via undulātus “waved, wavy,” composed of –ula, a diminutive suffix, and –ātus, a past participle suffix. Unda also yields English abound, abundant, inundate, redound, redundant, and surround. Latin unda in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root wed– “water, wet,” ultimate source of the names of two substances that may cause some to undulate, as it were, on their feet: vodka (via Russian) and whiskey (Irish or Scots Gaelic). Best to stay hydrated, another derivative of wed-, via Greek hýdōr “water.” Undulate entered English in the 1600s.
At the end, the national anthem is played, and our flag undulates all day on its very tall mast and unfurls as it ascends majestically.
There is a strange, dull glow to the east, from the sea; it undulates softly, rotates, like a net that has captured nothing.
any remarkable or outstanding person or thing.
Lulu was originally a piece of American slang. Slang terms have notoriously difficult origins, and lulu, also spelled loulou and looly, has no reliable etymology. Lulu first entered English in the mid-1850s.
… Marty loved to point out any big or little step and say to her, “Watch out. It’s a lulu.”
I started to work at the knot, which was a lulu.
browbeaten; defeated; intimidated; abject: He always went about with a hangdog look.
Hangdog is a compound of hang and dog, originally an expression for a person deemed so low and despicable they were considered fit only to hang a bad dog or be hanged like one, as was once the custom; hence, by extension, “browbeaten, defeated, intimidated abject.” In the American South the adjectival form doghanged also occurs, like Southern peckerwood for woodpecker. Hangdog entered English in the second half of the 17th century.
For more than a year now, the desolation Lyndon Johnson felt about his position had shown in his posture … and in his face, on which all the lines ran downward, his jowls sagging, so that reporters mocked in print his “hangdog” look.
After his opening remarks, Cohen, with his weary, hangdog look, affected a penitent air.
a perfect comeback or witty remark that one frustratingly comes up with only when the moment for doing so has passed: Writers, by nature, tend to be people in whom l' esprit de l'escalier is a recurrent experience.
The still very foreign phrase esprit de l’escalier first appears in English in one of the remarkable, not to say idiosyncratic, let alone cranky books by the Fowler brothers, F.W. (Francis George) and H.W. (Henry George), The King’s English (1906): “No one will know what spirit of the staircase is who is not already familiar with esprit d’escalier.” The French phrase was coined by the French philosopher and encyclopedist Denis Diderot in his Paradoxe sur le comédien (1773–77), a dramatic essay or dialogue between two actors: “l’homme sensible, comme moi, tout entier à ce qu’on lui objecte, perd la tête et ne se retrouve qu’au bas de l’escalier” (a sensitive man like me, entirely overcome by the objection made against him, loses his head and can only recover his wits at the bottom of the staircase), that is, after he has left the gathering.
Your esprit de l’escalier doesn’t kick in until you’re well out the door.
Later, l’esprit de l’escalier provided Mercia with: Glad you’re in agreement/I haven’t yet spoken/Is that a greeting/Yes indeed—but at the time, affronted, she grabbed at a couple of garments and announced, I’ll try these.
having dim or indistinct markings, as a bird or other animal.
The adjective nebulated comes from Late Latin nebulātus, past participle of nebulāre “to cloud, obscure,” a derivative of the noun nebula “mist, cloud.” Nebula is the Latin result of the Proto-Indo-European root nebh– (with many variants) “cloud.” The neuter noun nebhos yields Greek néphos “cloud, clouds,” Slavic (Polish) niebo “sky, heaven,” Hittite nebis “heaven.” The root nebh– and the suffix –el yield Middle Welsh nyfel “cloud” and Greek nephélē “cloud, clouds,” corresponding to Latin nebula. The Germanic form of the root, neb-, and the suffix –l– form German Nebel “fog, mist” and Old Norse niflheim “the world of darkness,” ruled over by the goddess Hel. Nebulated entered English in the late 15th century.
Immature birds are smaller, with central tail-feathers not, or scarcely, projecting, and have chiefly nebulated plumage below, with admixture of pale cinnamon, especially on under tail-coverts …
I fear that the intellectual gloom of the age is too great and nebulated by prejudice to duly appreciate your sentiments and devotion.
oracular; obscure; ambiguous: She was known for her Delphic pronouncements.
English Delphic comes via Latin Delphicus from the Greek adjective Delphikós, a derivative of the plural noun Delphoí, the name of the inhabitants of Delphi and of the historic city itself. The many dialect forms of the name, especially Aeolic Bélphoi, point to a form gwelphoi with an original labiovelar (a sound combining a velar, such as k or g, and a bilabial, such as w), as in Latin quis, quid “who, what” and English quick and Gwendolyn. Gwelphoi is a Greek derivative of the Proto-Indo-European root gwelbh– “womb” (the city was so named from its shape). Gwelbh– is also the source of the Greek noun adelpheós (Attic adelphós) “brother,” whose first letter a– is a much-reduced form of sem– “one,” related to Greek homós “same” and English “same.” Adelph(e)ós therefore means “born of the same womb.” Delphic entered English at the end of the 16th century.
The poems of his mature career were often Delphic, haunted, and bleak.
… he would certainly make a few Delphic pronouncements that next to nobody would understand, such as: “You can get many kinds of balance toward any seemingly grinding postulate of life.”
to hinder, block, or thwart.
The verb stymie has an obscure origin. It may be a golfing term, a noun referring to an opponent’s ball that lies closer to the hole than one’s own and is in the line of play, from which the slightly later verb sense in golf developed. By the beginning of the 20th century, the verb stymie had a generalized sense “to impede, hinder, thwart.” Stymie may come from Scots stymie “a person with poor eyesight,” a derivative of stime, styme “a glimmer, glimpse.” Stymie in the sense of “a person with poor vision” entered English in the early 17th century, the golfing sense in the first half of the 19th century.
This kind of leader would have little to no incentive to work with the Board of Supervisors and could easily stymie much of the progress the county is making on critical problems.
Astronomers concluded that the gas was being blasted out by winds from newly formed stars, a huge loss of starmaking material that could stymie the galaxy’s future growth.