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[ vuhj-ruh ] [ ˈvʌdʒ rə ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


the thunderbolt of Indra, the Hindu god of rain and thunder.

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More about vajra

Vajra “the thunderbolt of Indra” is a borrowing from Sanskrit vájra- “thunderbolt.” The literal sense of vájra is anything hard or indestructible, which is why the term also means “diamond.” Vájra comes from a root roughly meaning “strong, lively” that also appears in the Latin-origin terms vegetation, vigilant, and vigor. Because Sanskrit v often corresponds to w in English, this same root is visible in English waft, wait, wake, watch, and perhaps even wicked and witch. Vajra was first recorded in English in the 1780s.

how is vajra used?

Lotus is a beautiful flower that grows out of the muck. For us, the lotus translates into the human soul and then there’s the vajra, which means a thunderbolt, which in tantra is described as latent potential within every soul to attain emancipation.

S. B. Vijaya Mary, “Indian metal band Midhaven is back with a Shiva-inspired concept album,” The Hindu, August 10, 2021

Indra is a mighty giant, tawny of hair and beard and tawny of aspect …. He rides in a golden chariot drawn by two tawny horses, or many horses, even as many as eleven hundred, and he bears as his chief weapon the vajra, or thunderbolt, sometimes also a bow with arrows, a hook, or a net.

Lionel D. Barnett, Hindu Gods and Heroes, 1922
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[ dif-thawng-ahyz, dip- ] [ ˈdɪf θɔŋˌaɪz, ˈdɪp- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to change into or pronounce as one unsegmentable, gliding speech sound, as the oi sound of toy and boil.

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More about diphthongize

Diphthongize “to change into one gliding speech sound” is a verb based on diphthong, a sound that comprises two vowels merged into one. A sound containing one vowel is a monophthong, containing two is a diphthong, and containing three is a triphthong. Diphthong is equivalent to Ancient Greek di- “two” and phthóngos “voice, sound.” The prefix di-, from dís “twice, double,” is a distant relative of English two as well as Latin duo “two” and bis (earlier duis) “twice,” as in dual and bi-, respectively. Phthóngos may come from a long-lost language that was spoken in Greece long before the Greek language swept in; the consonant cluster phth- is rare (yet not impossible) according to the sound laws of the Indo-European language family. Diphthongize was first recorded in English in the late 1860s.

how is diphthongize used?

[T]he English have no final short stressed vowels, such as are found in bouquet, beau; hence their tendency to lengthen as well as diphthongize these sounds, while the French will stress the final syllable of recent loans, such as jury, reporter.

Otto Jespersen, Language: Its Nature, Development and Origin, 1922

Southern speech also has a tendency to “diphthongize” sounds .… Southern speech has tons of diphthongs, even some triphthongs (that’s a three-part vowel), way more than other dialects in North America, which is part of the reason why Southerners have a reputation for “drawling” or speaking slowly. It’s not actually slower, Southern vowels just have more stuff crammed into them.

Dan Nosowitz, "Why Justin Timberlake Sings ‘May’ Instead of ‘Me,’" Atlas Obscura, November 10, 2016
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[ vahr-muhnt ] [ ˈvɑr mənt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


an objectionable or undesirable animal, usually predatory, as a coyote or bobcat.

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More about varmint

Varmint “an undesirable animal” is a variant of vermin most common today in Southern and Appalachian English. There are two sound changes at play here: vowel backing and excrescence. Vowel backing is when a vowel sound moves farther back in the mouth, as the front/central vowel e in vermin migrates to become the back vowel a in varmint. A similar shift happened with argal (from ergo) and parson (from person). As we learned from the recent Word of the Day enumerate, excrescence is the addition of a consonant, such as the final t in varmint; compare the evolution of Old English thunor into modern English thunder. Despite its association with dialectal American English, varmint was first recorded in English in the 1530s.

how is varmint used?

When European colonists encountered the [coyote] species, they were of two minds, heralding it as an icon of the expansive West and vilifying it as the ultimate varmint, the bloodthirsty bane of sheep and cattle ranchers.

Carol Kaesuk Yoon, “Mysteries That Howl and Hunt,” The New York Times, September 27, 2010

Back in early February, [the groundhog] Phil said we’d have six more weeks of winter. Well, that deadline has passed, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has told the varmint that time’s up… it’s “seeking the apprehension of Punxsutawney Phil for deception.”

Doyle Rice, “Groundhog crime: Arrest warrant issued for Punxsutawney Phil for ‘deception,’” USA Today, March 26, 2018
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