Word of the Day

Monday, November 12, 2018

valorous

[ val-er-uhs ]

adjective

having valor; courageous; valiant; brave.

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What is the origin of valorous?

Valorous comes from Late Latin valor “worth, honor,” a derivative of valēre “to be powerful.” The Latin noun comes from the Proto-Indo-European root wal-, which also appears in Tocharian B walo “king” (Tocharian A and B were spoken in the Tarim Basin, now part of Xinjiang Uygur, China, and died out about 1100 a.d.). The extended form wald- “strong, be strong” underlies English wield and the proper name Oswald (from os “god” and weald “power”). In Slavic wald- appears in the Polish personal name Włodzimierz, Old Russian Volodimĕr “(having) great power, famous.” Modern Russian Vladimir is based on Old Church Slavonic Vladiměrŭ. Valorous entered English in the 15th century.

how is valorous used?

He praised his soldiers for their valorous devotion …

Stephen Harrigan, The Gates of the Alamo, 2000

Because I am valorous, chivalrous, generous, and handsome as the day is long!

Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, 2004
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Sunday, November 11, 2018

armistice

[ ahr-muh-stis ]

noun

a temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement of the warring parties; truce: World War I ended with the armistice of 1918.

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What is the origin of armistice?

Armistice comes via French from Latin armistitium, from Latin arma “tools, weapons, arms” and the element -stitium “a stop, stopping,” which appears also in solstice (from Latin solstitium “stopping of the sun”). Armistice first appears in the 17th century.

how is armistice used?

On November 6, Berlin dispatched envoys to carry an armistice proposal to Supreme Allied Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch.

David M. Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society, 1980

The armistice is coming soon, I believe it now too. Then we will go home.

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, translated by A. W. Wheen, 1929
Saturday, November 10, 2018

solmization

[ sol-muh-zey-shuhn, sohl- ]

noun

Music. the act, process, or system of using certain syllables, especially the sol-fa syllables, to represent the tones of the scale.

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What is the origin of solmization?

Solmization comes from French solmization, a derivative of solmiser “to (sing) sol-fa.” The system of solmization is attributed to Guido of Arezzo (c995-1049), a Benedictine monk from Arezzo, Tuscany, who also invented the staff notation used in Western music. Solmization entered English in the 18th century.

how is solmization used?

The pupil seems to gain the knowledge of intervals with the power of making them. But surely it would facilitate the labour were the knowledge of distances first instilled by means of solmization.

, "On Reading Music," The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, Vol. IX, 1827

Guido has been properly called the father of modern music, and the title is richly deserved for in addition to the so-called Guido scale, or hexachord, or solmization–or whatever you call his do-re-mi, plan or fancy–he also invented the staff lines and intervals in music, and many other methods of teaching music in use to this very day.

, "Monk Started Guido Scale 900 Years Ago in Italy," The Reading Eagle, November 14, 1965
Friday, November 09, 2018

rococo

[ ruh-koh-koh, roh-kuh-koh ]

adjective

ornate or florid in speech, literary style, etc.

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What is the origin of rococo?

If any word looks Italian or Spanish, rococo certainly does. But in fact rococo is a French word meaning “out of style, old-fashioned” and is a humorous distortion of rocaille “pebble-work, shellwork,” which was done to excess in some 18th-century art, furniture, and architecture. The French word may have been influenced by the Italian adjective barocco “baroque.” Rococo entered English in the 19th century.

how is rococo used?

Should you contemplate purchasing a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, a “mega-genius” according to Aaron (in private), he will tell you beforehand that García Márquez “is so rococo and torporific you’ll need an insulin shot every twenty pages.”

John Nichols, On Top of Spoon Mountain, 2012

… such versions respond to perfectly legitimate concerns about what is comprehensible to a child, who might well feel ‘squashed by the words and strangled by the sentence’ … when faced by some of Kingsley’s more rococo passages …

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, "Introduction," The Water-Babies (1863) by Charles Kingsley, 2013
Thursday, November 08, 2018

volute

[ vuh-loot ]

noun

a spiral or twisted formation or object.

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What is the origin of volute?

Volute is a technical word, a noun used in architecture, ornamental decoration, and marine biology. It comes from French volute or from Latin volūta “scroll.” Volūta is a noun use of volūtus, the past participle of volvere “to turn.” Volute entered English in the late 17th century.

how is volute used?

The interior of the tiny temple was dim, and wisps of incense smoke made graceful volutes in the air.

John Maddox Roberts, SPQR IX: The Princess and the Pirates, 2005

My, how light this Alonso de Avila was, forced to walk on mere earth only because of the richness and gravity of his damask and jaguar-skin suits, his gold chains, and his tawny mantle decorate with a reliquary–all of it lightened, let me assure you, by the feathers in his cap and the volutes of his mustache, the wings of his face.

Carlos Fuentes, The Orange Tree, translated by Alfred Mac Adam, 1994
Wednesday, November 07, 2018

dissemble

[ dih-sem-buhl ]

verb

to conceal one's true motives, thoughts, etc., by some pretense; speak or act hypocritically.

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What is the origin of dissemble?

Dissemble comes from late Middle English dissemile, dissimill, an alteration of the verb dissimule (from Old French dissimuler “to keep one’s intentions hidden,” from Latin dissimulāre, “to disguise or conceal one’s thoughts”), and associated in form with the noun semblance and the obsolete verb semble (from Old French sembler, from Latin similāre and simulāre “to pretend”). Dissemble entered English in the sense “to pass over, ignore, neglect” in the 16th century.

how is dissemble used?

He counted heavily on his ability to dissemble, knowing that every decent lawyer had at least several drops of dissimulation in his blood.

Elizabeth George, Missing Joseph, 1993

I didn’t know how to dissemble, I quite openly acknowledged the mistakes I made, and didn’t try hard to hide them.

Johann Michael von Loën, The Honest Man at Court, 1748, translated by John R. Russell, 1997
Tuesday, November 06, 2018

dopester

[ dohp-ster ]

noun

a person who undertakes to predict the outcome of elections, sports events, or other contests that hold the public interest.

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What is the origin of dopester?

The dope at the heart of this Americanism refers to information, data, or news. This slang term dates to 1905–10.

how is dopester used?

The 1954 season for predicting the Congressional elections is now in full swing and the political dopesters will be hard at it from now until Nov. 2, when the voters will select more than one-third of the Senators and all of the Congressmen who will sit in the Eighty-fourth Congress.

Ruth Silva, "A Look Into a Crystal Election Ball," New York Times, October 10, 1954

We make no prediction, not being either a dopester or an expert.

Ernest C. Hastings, "Stock the Goods That Women Want," Dry Goods Economist, October 21, 1922

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