• Word of the day
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    Friday, November 02, 2018

    univocal

    adjective [yoo-niv-uh-kuhl, yoo-nuh-voh-]
    having only one meaning; unambiguous.
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    What is the origin of univocal?

    Like its cousin equivocal, univocal derives from the Latin vōx meaning “voice.” Whereas the prefix equi- means “equal,” uni- means “one.” Univocal dates to 1535–45.

    How is univocal used?

    When then-Fox News chief Roger Ailes was presented with allegations of sexual harassment — first in a bombshell lawsuit, later in published reports — his response was univocal: Deny, deny, deny. Erik Wemple, "Harvey Weinstein's puzzling legal threat against the New York Times," Washington Post, October 6, 2017

    For any given element--event, character, development--is never simply univocal or one-sided but generally has two or more valences: it is serious and ironic, pathos-charged and parodic, apocalyptic and farcical, critical and self-critical. Dominick LaCapra, History, Politics, and the Novel, 1987

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, November 01, 2018

    penumbra

    noun [pi-nuhm-bruh]
    a shadowy, indefinite, or marginal area.
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    What is the origin of penumbra?

    The noun penumbra is composed of the Latin adverb paene “almost” and the Latin noun umbra “shadow.” Paene is not usual in Latin compounds, the most frequent being paeninsula (paeneinsula) “peninsula” and paenultimus (pēnultimus) “almost last, second last," especially the “second last syllable” (penultimate is often misused in English to mean “ultimate, last”). Penumbra (paenumbra) does not occur in Classical or Medieval Latin; it is a New Latin coinage by the German mathematician and astronomer Johann Kepler (1571-1630). Penumbra entered English in the 17th century.

    How is penumbra used?

    ... I couldn't figure out why I was hearing it in the penumbra of an old-growth floodplain forest in South Carolina, a forest that once stretched as far north as Upper Virginia and as far west as East Texas. Rosalind Bentley, "Among the Majestic Trees in Congaree, Slipping Into Silence," New York Times, July 16, 2018

    It's a daring move, an attempt to trace the penumbra of abuse across a shattered psyche. Ron Charles, "Roddy Doyle was determined to write a novel that shocked--and succeeded," Washington Post, October 17, 2017

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, October 31, 2018

    ghosting

    noun [goh-sting]
    Informal. a. the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation, especially in a romantic relationship: He was a victim of ghosting. b. Also called French goodbye, Irish goodbye. the act of leaving a social event or engagement suddenly without saying goodbye: Ghosting might be the best option if we want to get home before midnight.
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    What is the origin of ghosting?

    The dating sense of ghosting is first recorded in 2005–10. It’s possibly linked to the expression get ghost “to leave immediately,” which gained popularity in 1990s hip-hop.

    How is ghosting used?

    In the case of ghosting, a lack of accountability has brought out the worst in humanity, but applying behavioral science to UX design could be the key to unlocking the solution and with it the next billion dollar idea, paving the way for a new era of ghost-free online dating. Jack Rogers, "Ghosting -- Dating's Billion Dollar Problem?" Forbes, August 28, 2018

    Among younger generations, ghosting has “almost become a new vocabulary” in which “no response is a response,” says Amanda Bradford, CEO and founder of The League, a dating app. Now, “that same behavior is happening in the job market,” says Bradford, who’s experienced it with engineering candidates who ghosted her company. Chip Cutter, "People are 'ghosting' at work, and it's driving companies crazy," LinkedIn, June 23, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, October 30, 2018

    hocus-pocus

    noun [hoh-kuhs-poh-kuhs]
    unnecessarily mysterious or elaborate activity or talk to cover up a deception, magnify a simple purpose, etc.
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    What is the origin of hocus-pocus?

    Hocus-pocus is a pseudo-Latin rhyming formula used by jugglers and magicians. It was first recorded in 1615–25.

    How is hocus-pocus used?

    Maybe the English are right: [writer's] block is just a hocus-pocus covering life’s regular, humbling facts. "Blocked," The New Yorker, June 14, 2004

    How, exactly, does the president's budget propose to use the surplus to "save" Social Security? With accounting hocus-pocus. Allan Sloan, "Reading Between the Budget Lines," Washington Post, February 10, 1998

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, October 29, 2018

    diablerie

    noun [dee-ah-bluh-ree]
    diabolic magic or art; sorcery; witchcraft.
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    What is the origin of diablerie?

    English diablerie is a borrowing from French diablerie “mischief,” from Old French diablerie, deablerie “an act inspired by the devil, sorcery.” French diable comes from Late Latin diabolus “the devil” (in the Vulgate and church fathers), from Greek diábolos “slanderer; enemy, Satan” (in the Septuagint), “the Devil” (in the Gospels). Diablerie entered English in the 17th century.

    How is diablerie used?

    This tragedy, which, considering the wild times wherein it was placed, might have some foundation in truth, was larded with many legends of superstition and diablerie, so that most of the peasants of the neighbourhood, if benighted, would rather have chosen to make a considerable circuit, than pass these haunted walls. Sir Walter Scott, Guy Mannering, 1815

    He was, to one friend, "cometlike from some other world of diablerie, burning himself out upon our skies." David Bourdon, "Beardsley back in bloom again," Life, February 24, 1967

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, October 28, 2018

    ossature

    noun [os-uh-cher, -choor]
    the arrangement of bones in the skeleton or a body part.
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    What is the origin of ossature?

    Ossature is a borrowing from French ossature, probably modeled on French musculature. The base of ossature is the Latin noun os (stem oss-) “bone,” which comes from the Proto-Indo-European root ost- “bone.” Greek derives from the same root ostéon “bone” (as in osteology), óstrakon “potsherd” (as in ostracize), and óstreon “oyster” (the English noun comes from Greek via Old French and Latin). Ossature entered English in the 19th century.

    How is ossature used?

    The ossature of its wings had been like the exquisite work of some Japanese cabinet-maker ... James Hopper, "On the Back of the Dragon," Everybody's Magazine, July 1910

    ... thus the whole vault was furnished with an ossature or skeleton of ribs which was clothed upon by filling in with with arched masonry the triangular spaces or panels between rib and rib. T. G. Jackson, Reason of Architecture, 1906

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, October 27, 2018

    necropolis

    noun [nuh-krop-uh-lis, ne-]
    a cemetery, especially one of large size and usually of an ancient city.
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    What is the origin of necropolis?

    Necropolis, Greek for “city of the dead, corpse city,” first appears in the works of the Greek historian and geographer Strabo (c 63 b.c.-c 21a.d.). It was originally the name of the cemetery district in Alexandria, Egypt (founded by Alexander the Great in 323 b.c.). Greek nekrós means “corpse” (its plural nekrói means “the dead”); its combining form necro- forms the first half of necromancy (divination through communication with the dead, one of the blackest of the black arts). Nekrós comes from the Proto-Indo-European root nek- “death,” with a variant nok- “to kill.” From the same root Latin has the noun nex (stem nec-) “murder, violent death” (as in internecine, whose original English meaning was “deadly”). From the variant nok- Latin derives the verb nocēre “to harm” (source of nocent and innocent) and the adjective noxius “guilty, delinquent, harmful, injurious.” Greek pólis “city," more properly "citadel, fortified high place,” is related to Sanskrit pū́r, puram “city,” as in Singapore “Lion City,” ultimately from Sanskrit siṁha- “lion” and pū́r, puram. Necropolis entered English in the 19th century.

    How is necropolis used?

    The column of mourners moved under the archway into the necropolis, progressing slowly up the hill towards a spot where Fidelma could see several other torches burning. Peter Tremayne, Behold a Pale Horse, 2011

    Just beyond an island of hemlocks the road divides into the cluttered plain of the necropolis, grey and white as an overexposed snapshot. Marge Piercy, Braided Lives, 1982

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