Word of the Day

Friday, May 03, 2019

vigesimal

[ vahy-jes-uh-muhl ]

adjective

of, relating to, or based on twenty.

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What is the origin of vigesimal?

The English adjective vigesimal comes from the Latin adjectives vīgēsimus and vīcēsimus (also vīcēnsimus) “twentieth.” There is an obvious connection in meaning between the adjectives and the Latin numeral vīgintī “twenty,” but there is also an obvious difficulty in form. The fluctuation between –g– and –c– in the Latin words has never been satisfactorily explained, as the expected Latin form would be vīcintī. Vigesimal entered English in the 17th century.

how is vigesimal used?

Maya numeral systems were vigesimal (base twenty), counted by twenties, four hundreds, eight thousands, and so on, rather than by tens, hundreds, and thousands as in a decimal system.

Robert J. Sharer with Loa P. Traxler, The Ancient Maya, 6th ed., 2006

Portland is making vigorous preparations for the vigesimal or twentieth anniversary celebration of the founding of the Christian Endeavor Society ….

"State Items," The Lewiston Daily Sun, January 22, 1901
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Thursday, May 02, 2019

bombinate

[ bom-buh-neyt ]

verb

to make a humming or buzzing noise.

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What is the origin of bombinate?

The verb bombinate comes from Latin bombināre “to buzz,” a possible variant or corruption of bombilāre, bombitāre, or bombīre “to buzz, hum,” all derivatives of the noun bombus “a buzzing, humming.” The Latin verbs and noun ultimately come from Greek bómbos “a humming, buzzing” and its various derivative verbs. The specific form bombināre is apparently a coinage by the French satirist François Rabelais (c1494–1553) in a Renaissance Latin parody of scholastic Latin in the Middle Ages. Bombinate entered English in the second half of the 19th century.

how is bombinate used?

… and then we were off, climbing rapidly to a couple of thousand feet, then making course west, bombinating over the voes (small fjords) and sounds that fretwork the Shetland coastline.

Will Self, "Inching Along the Edge of the World," New York Times, October 23, 2008

As Olga’s rosy soul … bombinates in the damp dark at the bright window of my room, comfortably Krug returns unto the bosom of his maker.

Vladimir Nabokov, "Introduction," Bend Sinister, 1964
Wednesday, May 01, 2019

guddle

[ guhd-l ]

verb

to catch (fish) by groping with the hands, as under rocks or along a riverbank.

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What is the origin of guddle?

The verb guddle “to catch (fish) by groping with the hands, as under rocks or along a riverbank” is a Scottish word with no known etymology. Guddle was used by several Scots writers, the most popular being Robert Louis Stevenson. Guddle entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is guddle used?

Tam once more resumed his attempt to guddle a trout ….

Christopher Brookmyre, Country of the Blind, 1997

They have to learn how to catch frogs and how to skin them, for the outside is unpalatable; how to guddle for trout and eels; how to detect the plaice in the shallow waters of the bay, hidden in or against the sand, with only their eyes showing.

J. Arthur Thomson, Secrets of Animal Life, 1919

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