Word of the Day

Thursday, November 15, 2018


[ vuh-luhp-choo-er-ee ]


a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit and enjoyment of luxury and sensual pleasure.

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What is the origin of voluptuary?

The adjective and noun voluptuary comes via French voluptuaire from Late Latin voluptuārius from Latin voluptārius, an adjective derived from voluptās “agreeable sensation, pleasure, delight.” The second u in voluptuārius probably comes from association with the Latin adjective and noun sumptuārius “pertaining to monetary expenses (especially sumptuary laws); a servant in of charge domestic expenses.” Voluptuary entered English in the 17th century.

how is voluptuary used?

Hartmann, a voluptuary, lowered a spoonful of brown sugar crystals into his coffee cup, then placed a square of bitter chocolate on his tongue, and, while it was dissolving, lit his first cigarette. The ensuing mélange of tastes and aromas pleased him profoundly …

Anita Brookner, Latecomers, 1988

Quin is a real voluptuary in the articles of eating and drinking, and so confirmed an epicure, in the common acceptation of the term, that he cannot put up with ordinary fare.

Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, 1771
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018


[ kuh-tas-truh-fahyz ]


to view or talk about (an event or situation) as worse than it actually is, or as if it were a catastrophe: Stop catastrophizing and get on with your life! She tends to catastrophize her symptoms.

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What is the origin of catastrophize?

The verb catastrophize, used mostly in psychology and psychotherapy, is formed from the Greek noun katastrophḗ “overturning, subjugation, conclusion, denouement,” and the Greek verb-forming suffix -ízein that was adopted into Latin as -īzāre and has become thoroughly naturalized in English. Catastrophize entered English in the 20th century.

how is catastrophize used?

I was inspired to catastrophize by my father, who believed that “90 percent of the things we worry about never come to pass.” He added cheerily that it was the other 10 percent, coming out of nowhere, that usually did us in.

Pat Snyder, "De-stress with a sigh of relief," Tri-Village News, August 18, 2004

Today’s news media will “catastrophize” anything they can.

Ben Stein, "Avoid the Craziness at No One Gets Hurt," New York Times, August 26, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2018


[ si-kwey-shuhs ]


Archaic. following, imitating, or serving another person, especially unreasoningly.

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What is the origin of sequacious?

The adjective sequacious comes from Latin sequac-, stem of sequāx “following closely or eagerly, disposed to be a follower, (of materials) responsive to manipulation or control, pliant” (sequāx lacks the sense “following smoothly or logically”). Sequāx is formed from the verb sequī “to follow” and the adjective suffix -āx (inflectional stem -āc-). Sequī is a Latin formation from the very widespread Proto-Indo-European root sekw-, sokw- “to follow,” which appears in Sanskrit, Greek and the Celtic and Germanic languages. Other Latin derivatives of sekw-, sokw- include the noun socius “follower, partner, ally” (from sokwyos) with its derivative adjective sociālis, source of English social. In Germanic, sokwyos becomes sagjaz “follower, retainer, warrior,” becoming in Old English secg, a noun used only in poetry. Sequacious entered English in the 17th century.

how is sequacious used?

In a world peopled with limp critics and sequacious art historians the ruthlessness with which he used the battering ram of talent invariably earned my admiration and almost invariably my support.

Grace Glueck, "The Pope of the Art World," New York Times, May 26, 1991

Those superstitious horrors that enslave / The fond sequacious herd, to mystic faith …

James Thompson, Summer, 1727
Monday, November 12, 2018


[ val-er-uhs ]


having valor; courageous; valiant; brave.

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What is the origin of valorous?

Valorous comes from Late Latin valor “worth, honor,” a derivative of valēre “to be powerful.” The Latin noun comes from the Proto-Indo-European root wal-, which also appears in Tocharian B walo “king” (Tocharian A and B were spoken in the Tarim Basin, now part of Xinjiang Uygur, China, and died out about 1100 a.d.). The extended form wald- “strong, be strong” underlies English wield and the proper name Oswald (from os “god” and weald “power”). In Slavic wald- appears in the Polish personal name Włodzimierz, Old Russian Volodimĕr “(having) great power, famous.” Modern Russian Vladimir is based on Old Church Slavonic Vladiměrŭ. Valorous entered English in the 15th century.

how is valorous used?

He praised his soldiers for their valorous devotion …

Stephen Harrigan, The Gates of the Alamo, 2000

Because I am valorous, chivalrous, generous, and handsome as the day is long!

Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, 2004
Sunday, November 11, 2018


[ ahr-muh-stis ]


a temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement of the warring parties; truce: World War I ended with the armistice of 1918.

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What is the origin of armistice?

Armistice comes via French from Latin armistitium, from Latin arma “tools, weapons, arms” and the element -stitium “a stop, stopping,” which appears also in solstice (from Latin solstitium “stopping of the sun”). Armistice first appears in the 17th century.

how is armistice used?

On November 6, Berlin dispatched envoys to carry an armistice proposal to Supreme Allied Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch.

David M. Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society, 1980

The armistice is coming soon, I believe it now too. Then we will go home.

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, translated by A. W. Wheen, 1929
Saturday, November 10, 2018


[ sol-muh-zey-shuhn, sohl- ]


Music. the act, process, or system of using certain syllables, especially the sol-fa syllables, to represent the tones of the scale.

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What is the origin of solmization?

Solmization comes from French solmization, a derivative of solmiser “to (sing) sol-fa.” The system of solmization is attributed to Guido of Arezzo (c995-1049), a Benedictine monk from Arezzo, Tuscany, who also invented the staff notation used in Western music. Solmization entered English in the 18th century.

how is solmization used?

The pupil seems to gain the knowledge of intervals with the power of making them. But surely it would facilitate the labour were the knowledge of distances first instilled by means of solmization.

, "On Reading Music," The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, Vol. IX, 1827

Guido has been properly called the father of modern music, and the title is richly deserved for in addition to the so-called Guido scale, or hexachord, or solmization–or whatever you call his do-re-mi, plan or fancy–he also invented the staff lines and intervals in music, and many other methods of teaching music in use to this very day.

, "Monk Started Guido Scale 900 Years Ago in Italy," The Reading Eagle, November 14, 1965
Friday, November 09, 2018


[ ruh-koh-koh, roh-kuh-koh ]


ornate or florid in speech, literary style, etc.

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What is the origin of rococo?

If any word looks Italian or Spanish, rococo certainly does. But in fact rococo is a French word meaning “out of style, old-fashioned” and is a humorous distortion of rocaille “pebble-work, shellwork,” which was done to excess in some 18th-century art, furniture, and architecture. The French word may have been influenced by the Italian adjective barocco “baroque.” Rococo entered English in the 19th century.

how is rococo used?

Should you contemplate purchasing a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, a “mega-genius” according to Aaron (in private), he will tell you beforehand that García Márquez “is so rococo and torporific you’ll need an insulin shot every twenty pages.”

John Nichols, On Top of Spoon Mountain, 2012

… such versions respond to perfectly legitimate concerns about what is comprehensible to a child, who might well feel ‘squashed by the words and strangled by the sentence’ … when faced by some of Kingsley’s more rococo passages …

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, "Introduction," The Water-Babies (1863) by Charles Kingsley, 2013

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