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[ vek-suh-lol-uh-jee ] [ ˌvɛk səˈlɒl ə dʒi ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


the study of flags.

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More about vexillology

Vexillology “the study of flags” is a compound of the Latin noun vexillum “flag” and the combining form -logy, which indicates the study of a subject and is of Ancient Greek origin. Vexillum (also spelled vēxillum) is a diminutive of vēlum “sail, covering,” making vexillum literally mean “little sail.” The reason why vexillum, rather than a word such as “vēlillum,” is the diminutive of vēlum is likely because of the recent Word of the Day syncope, or the loss of a sound from the middle of a word. Vēlum probably was once pronounced like “vexlum” in the early days of Latin, and the x was eventually dropped—but not before the stem vex- could be combined with the suffix -illum to create vexillum. If that sounds a little odd, bear in mind that English lord comes from Old English hlāfweard “loaf-keeper,” which shed half its consonants! Vexillology was coined in the late 1950s.

how is vexillology used?

Of the millions of pages of documents and reports generated by the first moon landing, none is more telling, to me anyway, than an eleven-page paper [“Where No Flag Has Gone Before: Political and Technical Aspects of Placing a Flag on the Moon”] presented at the twenty-sixth annual meeting of the North American Vexillological Association. Vexillology is the study of flags, not the study of vexing things, but in this case, either would fit.

Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, 2010

Whitney Smith, who turned a childhood fascination with flags into a scholarly discipline—vexillology—of which he was the leading light, … coined the term vexillology, combining the Latin word for flag, “vexillum,” with the Greek suffix meaning “the study of.” “I’ve been criticized because it combines Latin and Greek, a barbarism,” he told Smithsonian, “but I say, ‘I was a teenager!’”

William Grimes, “Whitney Smith, Whose Passion for Flags Became a Career, Dies at 76,” New York Times, November 22, 2016
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[ vol-pleyn ] [ ˈvɒlˌpleɪn ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used without object)

to glide toward the earth in an airplane, with no motor power or with the power shut off.

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More about volplane

Volplane “to glide toward the earth in an airplane with no power” is an adaptation of the French noun vol plané “glided flight.” French vol can mean either “flight” or “theft” depending on the context, which gives the name of the nearly invincible villain Voldemort from the Harry Potter series the double meaning of “flight from death” or “theft of death.” Vol comes from the Latin verb volāre “to fly,” which is the source of volatile as well as the recent Word of the Day volant. French plané is the past participle of planer “to glide,” which ultimately comes from the Latin adjective plānus “flat,” likely in reference to how gliding is a horizontal motion. Of course, airplane is related to volplane, but airplane comes instead by way of the French adjective plan “flat.” Volplane was first recorded in English between 1905 and 1910.

how is volplane used?

So cleverly did he [Frank H. Burnside, an experienced pilot] bring the disabled aircraft around in a graceful spiral, coming head-on into the wind to volplane safely into the mouth of a broad inlet, that the explorer [Rear-Admiral Robert E. Peary] knew nothing of the accident until he was told the flying-boat would have to be towed ashore.

“1915: Flight in American Aerial Boat,” The New York Herald, European Edition, October 29, 1915

The next time [Harriet] Quimby made headlines in 1912, it was in the screaming, sensational font of disaster too. While flying her new 70-horsepower Bleriot monoplane during a Boston airshow, the 37-year-old Quimby hit turbulence. “Heading back into the eight mile gusty wind, Miss Quimby started to volplane,” recounted The Rock Island Argus.

Jeva Lange, “Give Harriet Quimby her due,” Week, April 16, 2020
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[ in-am-uh-rah-tuh, in-am- ] [ ɪnˌæm əˈrɑ tə, ˌɪn æm- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a woman who loves or is loved; female sweetheart or lover.

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More about inamorata

Inamorata “a female sweetheart or lover” comes from Italian innamorata, the feminine past participle of the verb innamorare “to inflame with love,” which is the Italian equivalent of the French-origin verb enamor (from Old French enamourer). Both verbs ultimately come from the Latin noun amor “love,” combined with the prefix in- and a verbal suffix. It is important to note here that the prefix in- here does not make inamorata mean “unloved”; Latin has two in- prefixes, one of which is negative and translates as “not” or “un-,” and the other of which is an intensive, indicating increased emphasis or force. The similarity between the two in- prefixes also explains why flammable and inflammable have the same general meaning—and why non-flammable is often used to clearly mean “not flammable.” Inamorata was first recorded in English circa 1650.

how is inamorata used?

Other poets treated the subject of “love,” allowing the flushed cheeks or alabaster limbs of this or that inamorata to enter the frame of their poems, but it’s [Latin poet] Catullus who built his nugae, or trifles, around a single, near-obsessional passion for a woman whose entire presence, body and mind, fills the lines of his poetry.

Jeffrey Eugenides, “Introduction,” My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead, 2008

French and Italian drivers may love speed, but they zoom about in relatively small cars. Practicality plays a part, and psychology. If you live in an ancient, congested city, a tiny car is all you need. You can also park it near your inamorata‘s flat, which is cool.

“Setting the target”, Economist, February 8, 2007
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