Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

verklempt

[ ver-klempt, vuh-, fer-, fuh- ]

adjective

overly emotional and unable to speak.

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What is the origin of verklempt?

Verklempt, “overcome with emotion and unable to speak,” is an American colloquialism from Yiddish verklempt, farklempt “overcome with emotion,” from German verklemmt “inhibited, uptight,” literally “pinched, squeezed,” the past participle of verklemmen “to become stuck.” Verklempt was popularized by the TV show Saturday Night Live in 1991.

how is verklempt used?

Listening to your story, I’m a little verklempt myself. Give me a second. Talk amongst yourselves (holds it all in). There I feel better.

Linda Richman (played by Mike Myers), "Coffee Talk," Saturday Night Live, October 12, 1991

“I’m so verklempt,” he says. “I need a hug.” She assumes he’s being sarcastic, but when she glances at him he’s teared up for real.

Curtis Sittenfeld, "The Prairie Wife," The New Yorker, February 5, 2017

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Word of the day

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

stentorian

[ sten-tawr-ee-uhn, -tohr- ]

adjective

very loud or powerful in sound.

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What is the origin of stentorian?

Stentorian, “extremely loud; having a powerful voice,” comes from Greek Sténtōr (inflectional stem Sténtor-), the name of a Greek (more properly Achaean) warrior who fought at Troy. Stentor is mentioned in the Iliad only once, in book 5, where Hera “took the likeness of great-hearted Stentor of the brazen voice, whose voice is as the voice of fifty other men” to scold the Achaeans. According to a scholium (an ancient comment or annotation on a Greek or Latin text) on this line in the Iliad, Stentor, like several other Greek heroes who came to similar bad ends, challenged the god Hermes to a shouting contest and was killed for his impudence. Sténtōr is a Greek derivative of the Proto-Indo-European root (s)ten-, (s)ton– “to groan” (thus the literal meaning of Sténtōr is “groaner, moaner” from the verb sténein “to moan, groan, lament”). The root appears in Sanskrit as stánati “(it, he) groans, thunders,” Old English stenan “to groan loudly; roar,” and Russian stonát’ “to groan.” The form without the initial s– (i.e. ten-, ton-) appears in Aeolic Greek (the dialect of the lyric poets Sappho and Alcaeus) as ténnei “(it, he) thunders,” Latin tonāre “to thunder, roar,” Old English thunor (English thunder), and Old Norse Thōrr “Thor” (the deity, literally, “thunder”). Stentorian entered English in the early 17th century.

how is stentorian used?

You may not know much about helium, except that it fills birthday balloons and blimps and can make even the most stentorian voice sound a bit like Donald Duck.

Henry Fountain, "Scientists Devise New Way to Find an Elusive Element: Helium," New York Times, June 28, 2016

It’s been a few days since I wondered, on the basis of a fabulous pre-World War II film clip about San Francisco, why you never heard modern Americans speaking in the formal, stentorian tones so instantly recognizable from newsreels and movies of that era.

James Fallows, "Catching Up With Language Change," The Atlantic, August 12, 2011

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Word of the day

Monday, July 19, 2021

perambulate

[ per-am-byuh-leyt ]

verb (used without object)

to walk or travel about; stroll.

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What is the origin of perambulate?

Perambulate, “to walk or travel about; stroll,” is in origin a Scots word that meant “to travel through (land) and inspect it for measuring or dividing or determining ownership,” a process called perambulation. Perambulate comes from Latin perambulātus, the past participle of perambulāre “to walk through, walk about, walk around in, tour, make the rounds,” a compound of the preposition and prefix per, per– “through” and the simple verb ambulāre “to walk; go about; travel; march” (source of English amble). Perambulate entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is perambulate used?

Mary and I liked to perambulate along the river Arno in Florence, or through the pedestrianised Roman thoroughfares.

Elizabeth Walsh Peavoy, "Preamble," In A Café: Selected Stories by Mary Lavin, 1995

Mr. Cleese may sometimes perambulate strangely but he still types perfectly fine, and he has agreed to write a book about his life ….

Dave Itzkoff, "And Now for Something Completely Literate: A Memoir From John Cleese," New York Times, October 8, 2012

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