Word of the Day

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

verecund

[ ver-i-kuhnd ]

adjective

Archaic.

bashful; modest.

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What is the origin of verecund?

The uncommon adjective verecund, “bashful, modest,” comes straight from Latin verēcundus “restrained by or sensitive to scruples or feelings of modesty, shame, or self-respect.” Verēcundus is a compound of the verb verērī “to fear, show reverence for, be in awe of” and the adjective suffix –cundus, which indicates inclination or capacity. Verērī is the root in the very common verb revere (and its derivatives reverent, reverend, and reverence). Verecund entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is verecund used?

Our politics is speckled with men who are so diffident and verecund they never say a word about themselves or their achievements.

"Who's Who—And Why," Saturday Evening Post , February 10, 1912

If there is any perceptible shift between early and later Dickens, then that transition seems to be one where the verecund persona gives way to a performance imbued with Pancksian relish in the double face of wonder and monstrosity.

Julian Wolfreys, Writing London: the trace of the urban text from Blake to Dickens, 1998

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Monday, July 27, 2020

scattergood

[ skat-er-good ]

noun

a person who spends possessions or money extravagantly or wastefully; spendthrift.

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What is the origin of scattergood?

The rare noun scattergood is a compound of the verb scatter and the noun good in the sense “possessions, personal property” (the plural form goods is the usual, modern form). An early, pungent citation of scattergood appears in the works of a 17th-century Anglican priest, William Brough, “If the first heir be not a Scattergood, the third is commonly a Lose-all” (spelling slightly modernized). Scattergood entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is scattergood used?

they are a pleasant couple, but it would be folly to bequeath the whole of my estate to a pair of such scattergoods.

"A Striking Legacy," Truth, August 25, 1881

And now, my lords, there is that young scattergood the Laird of Bucklaw’s fine to be disposed upon. I suppose it goes to my Lord Treasurer?

Sir Walter Scott, The Bride of Lammermoor, 1819

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

anfractuous

[ an-frak-choo-uhs ]

adjective

characterized by windings and turnings; sinuous; circuitous: an anfractuous path.

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What is the origin of anfractuous?

Anfractuous ultimately comes from the Late Latin adjective ānfrāctuōsus, a term in rhetoric meaning “roundabout, prolix,” and first used by St. Augustine of Hippo in one of his sermons. Ānfrāctuōsus is a derivative of the noun ānfrāctus (also āmfrāctus) “a bend, curve, circular motion, digression, recurrence,” formed by the prefix am-, an-, a rare variant of ambi– “both, around, about,” and a derivative of the verb frangere “to break, shatter, smash.” Anfractuous entered English in the early 15th century.

how is anfractuous used?

Then, as the road resumed its anfractuous course, clinging to the extreme margin of this tumbled and chaotic coast, the fun began.

Jonathan Raban, "The Getaway Car," New York Times, June 10, 2011

Chavis endured a bumpy, anfractuous trip …. He started with a turbulent flight from Syracuse, where the Pawtucket Red Sox were stationed, to Detroit. Then another flight from Detroit to Tampa.

Christopher L. Gasper, "'That was awesome, dude!' — Michael Chavis enjoys his Red Sox debut," Boston Globe, April 21, 2019

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anfractuous

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