What People Are
a minor dispute or contest.
English velitation comes from Latin vēlitātiōn- (stem of vēlitātiō) “skirmish,” ultimately a derivation of vēles (stem vēlit-) “light-armed foot soldier wearing little armor, skirmisher,” which is a derivative from the adjective vēlox (stem vēlōc-) “quick, rapid, speedy” (and the source of English velocity). The vēlitēs, a specialized unit of soldiers in the ancient Roman army, were armed with swords, javelins, and small round shields and were stationed in front of the legionary lines. Before the main action began, these skirmishers threw their javelins at the enemy lines to break up their formation and then rapidly withdrew to the rear of the legionary lines. Vēlitēs as a type of soldier or unit in the Roman army were relatively brief: they are first mentioned about 211 b.c. in the dark, dark days (for Rome) of the Second Punic War (218–201 b.c.). The vēlitēs were probably formed owing to lowered property qualifications for military service in 214 b.c. and were drawn from the lowest, youngest, and poorest citizens. Vēlitēs are last mentioned in the Jugurthine War of 112-106 b.c.; presumably they were subsumed into the centuries (a company consisting of approximately 100 men) in a later reorganization of the Roman army. Velitation entered English in the 17th century.
… let him read those Pharsalian fields fought of late in France for religion, their massacres, wherein by their own relations in twenty-four years I know not how many millions have been consumed, whole families and cities, and he shall find ours to be but velitations to theirs.
While the ladies in the tea-room of the Fox Hotel were engaged in the light snappish velitation, or skirmish, which we have described, the gentlemen who remained in the parlour were more than once like to have quarrelled more seriously.
Slang. to understand thoroughly and intuitively.
Grok was coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961).
Digital utopians have come in for criticism (sometimes in these pages) for failing fully to grok the messy realities of politics and the virtues of old-fashioned shoe leather in political protest …
Our gray matter is so complex, scientists lament, that it can’t quite understand itself. But if we can’t grok our own brains, maybe the machines can do it for us.
of, relating to, or having the qualities of Falstaff, especially his robust, bawdy humor, good-natured rascality, and brazen braggadocio: Falstaffian wit.
The adjective Falstaffian derives from Falstaff, the family name of Sir John Falstaff, a fictional character in two of Shakespeare’s historical plays (Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2) and in the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. His death is briefly treated in Henry V. Falstaff as a character is fat, vain, boastful, cowardly, bibulous; he lives on stolen or borrowed money and consorts with petty criminals. He has always been a favorite character among playgoers. Falstaffian entered English in the early 19th century.
You couldn’t see the top of the harvest table for all the dishes and wine bottles, but I could see Paul presiding at the far end: bawdy, Falstaffian.
To it would his wholesome and happy mind revert, how often! to rest there for the space of a smile, at least, and sometimes long enough for a full, oceanic commotion of mirth, a perfected soul-delivery of Falstaffian laughter.
a love of life and the living world; the affinity of human beings for other life forms.
Biophilia is a New Latin word formed by two Greek combining forms widely used in English, bio- (from bíos “life”) and -philia “love (of).” Biophilia was coined by the German-born U.S. psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1900-80) in The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil (1964) in the meaning “love for humanity and nature, and independence and freedom.” E. O. (Edward Osborne) Wilson, U.S. biologist, theorist, and author (born 1929) expanded the meaning to “the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms” in Biophilia (1984). The word biophilia entered English in 1964.
Indeed, on a per-capita basis, New Zealand may be the most nature-loving nation on the planet. With a population of just four and a half million, the country has some four thousand conservation groups. But theirs is, to borrow E. O. Wilson’s term, a bloody, bloody biophilia.
… that fourth kind of love in Perdita’s bundle–biophilia–isn’t it rather intriguing? … He thinks that all living things have an instinctive orientation toward one another. Biophilia is supposed to be deep in our biological makeup.
a proposed explanation intended to address a complex problem by trying to account for all possible contingencies but typically proving to be too broadly conceived and therefore oversimplified to be of any practical use.
English panchreston comes via Latin panchrēstos “good for everything, universal.” In Latin, its usage is restricted to medicine or derived metaphors, e.g., Pliny the Elder (a.d. 23-79) uses panchrēstos stomaticē, a phrase of two Greek words with Greek inflections, meaning “universal remedy for ailments of the mouth”; Cicero (106-43 b.c.), in one of his forensic speeches, uses panchrēstō medicāmentō “universal cure” as a scornful periphrasis for “bribe.” The original Greek adjective (and noun) pánchrēstos has the same relatively restricted meaning, i.e., to describe widely useful tools or medications. Panchreston entered English in the 17th century.
Bunnell … suggested that the term “fragmentation” has become a panchreston because it has become a catch-all phrase that means different things to different people.
Unfortunately, this term has by now acquired so many definitions (at least 70 by recent count) that it has become a panchreston–a term that means so many different things that it means almost nothing.
Slang. a person who is extremely neat about surroundings, appearance, etc.
Neatnik was formed in opposition to the supposedly scruffy, unshaven beatnik (coined in 1958). The suffix -nik, still unnaturalized in English, is of immediate Yiddish origin, from Slavic (Russian, Ukrainian). English peacenik, also derogatory, dates from 1962. Neatnik entered English in 1959.
This yard scrubbing leaves the neatnik poised and ready to intercept the very first leaf to yield to gravity.
I could almost identify by type the managers who had come and gone in the thirty years the building had been occupied. One was a neatnik, who’d filed all the paperwork in matching banker’s boxes.
facts and information about books, especially about authors and circumstances of publication.
One of the current meanings of booklore, “facts about books, their authors and publication,” applies mostly to the business of buying, trading, and selling books, especially of first editions and antiquarian books. The other meaning of booklore is as a much less common synonym of book learning. Wulfstan of York (died 1023), Archbishop of York and homilist (a writer or speaker of sermons, usually on Biblical or religious subjects) is the first writer to use booklore. Not surprisingly Wulfstan uses bóclár in the sense “book learning, especially religious book learning.” Booklore entered English in the early 11th century.
Besides reviving interest in booklore generally and bringing about the secularization of many of the great libraries, the influence of Humanism and of the Reformation also resulted in demands that libraries be opened to the public.
Scattered among the review excerpts of a gallaxy [sic] of its titles are some fascinating bits and pieces of book lore. Do you know the origin of the words book, volume and tome? Who now is the most widely translated author?