Word of the Day

Friday, July 03, 2020

vox populi

[ voks pop-yuh-lahy ]

noun

the voice of the people; popular opinion.

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What is the origin of vox populi?

The phrase vox populi comes straight from Latin vōx populī “voice of the people.” Vōx (inflectional stem vōc-) is the source of English vocal and vowel, via Old French vouel, from Latin (littera) vōcālis “sounding (letter).” Populī is the genitive singular of the noun populus, the collective name for the Roman citizen body, excluding women, children, foreigners, and slaves. The phrase vōx populī does not occur in Latin literature and only first appears in a letter that the great Anglo-Saxon scholar Alcuin wrote to Charlemagne in 798, not to pay heed to those who insist that vōx populī vōx Deī “the voice of the people is the voice of God” because the populace is too unstable–a sentiment the Romans would agree with entirely. In later English history (after Alcuin), vōx populī vōx Deī is favorable, a notable example being the title of a Whig tract entitled Vox Populi, Vox Dei: being true Maxims of Government (1710). The abbreviated phrase vox pop “the views of the majority of people, popular opinion” appears in the first half of the 18th century. Nowadays vox pop means “popular opinion as shown by comments made to the media by members of the public.” Vox populi entered English in the mid-16th century.

how is vox populi used?

In 1972, Democrats made their process more plebiscitary—more primaries, less influence for political professionals—to elicit and echo the vox populi.

George F. Will, "The lure of kamikaze candidates," Washington Post, February 7, 2020

But in this country, the process of language reform is complicated. It’s not exactly grassroots democracy; some voices count more than others, and people usually leave typographical niceties to the expert associations concerned with them. What vox populi retains is veto power.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, "The Case for Capitalizing the B in Black," The Atlantic, June 18, 2020

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

repudiate

[ ri-pyoo-dee-eyt ]

verb (used with object)

to reject with disapproval or condemnation: to repudiate a new doctrine.

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What is the origin of repudiate?

Repudiate comes straight from Latin repudiāt-, the past participle stem of repudiāre “to reject formally (as a prospective husband or wife), divorce, reject,” a derivative of the noun repudium. Repudium is derived from the prefix re-, completely naturalized in English, indicating repetition or withdrawal, and the verb pudēre “to fill with shame, make ashamed.” From pudēre Latin derives the adjectives impudēns (inflectional stem impudent-) “shameless,” English impudent, and pudendus “of what one ought to be ashamed, disgraceful.” Repudiate entered English in the 16th century.

how is repudiate used?

In college, Gadsby studied art history, and in “Douglas” she aims to repudiate what she learned about institutionalized beauty, which, in her view, has no relationship to joy or inspiration.

Hilton Als, "Hannah Gadsby's Song of the Self," The New Yorker, July 22, 2019

States as well as individuals must repudiate racial, religious, or other discrimination in violation of those rights.

Declaration on World Peace, issued as pamphlet, October 7, 1943

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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

staycation

[ stey-key-shuhn ]

noun

a vacation spent at home or near home, doing enjoyable activities or visiting local attractions.

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What is the origin of staycation?

Staycation, a portmanteau word, as Lewis Carroll would call it, formed from stay and vacation, is associated with the Great Recession of 2007–09. Actually, staycation is considerably older: It was originally an Americanism, and it first appeared in print in 1944, in the middle of World War II, when gasoline and automobile tires (among much else) were strictly rationed.

how is staycation used?

Washington’s hospitality and tourism industry … will be ready to accommodate Seattleites and Washingtonians, because everyone expects this will be the summer of the staycation.

Gregory Scruggs, "Summer isn't canceled: Embrace the staycation as coronavirus travel restrictions ease in Washington," Seattle Times, May 22, 2020

As relatively new residents of Philadelphia, we’re planning a staycation in our new hometown. We’ll finally plow through our lengthy backlist of streaming movies and shows.

Anne Marie Gold, quoted in "With Travel Plans in Flux, Readers Share Their 'Staycation' Ideas," New York Times, March 18, 2020

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