Word of the Day

Sunday, May 24, 2020

whelked

[ hwelkt, welkt ]

adjective

ridged like the shell of a snail: a whelked horn.

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What is the origin of whelked?

Whelked, “having ridges like the shell of a snail,” is an adjective derived from the noun whelk “a large, spiral-shelled, marine gastropod.” Whelk comes from Middle English welk, welke, wilk, wilke, from Old English weoloc, weluc, wiolc, wulloc. The modern spelling whelk, with initial wh-, first appears about 1425 in a cookbook.

how is whelked used?

As I stood here below, methought his eyes Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses, Horns whelked and waved like the enridged sea.

William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1608

Alice puckered her old whelked face into a thousand deeper wrinkles ….

George Soane, The Frolics of Puck, 1834

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

syncopate

[ sing-kuh-peyt, sin- ]

verb (used with object)

to place (the accents) on beats that are normally unaccented.

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What is the origin of syncopate?

Syncopate comes from Late Latin syncopātus, the past participle of the verb syncopāre, a derivative of the noun syncopa or syncopē, which has two senses: a grammatical sense “the contraction of a word by omitting one or more sounds from the middle, as never becoming ne’er,” and a medical sense “swooning, fainting away.” Syncopa and syncopē come from the Greek noun synkopḗ, which has the same meanings as the Latin, developments of its basic meaning “a cutting up into small pieces.” Syncopate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is syncopate used?

I juxtapose the rhythms, and I syncopate them to make the piece create the jazz feeling that I’d like to get.

"All Things Considered," NPR, December 1996

Finding syncopation in jazz is about as difficult as finding water in the ocean. It is the cornerstone of one of the principal sources of jazz rhythm, ragtime melody, so much so that to “rag a melody” and (a decade or so later) to “jazz up a melody” meant, in part, to syncopate it.

Barry Kernfeld, What to Listen for in Jazz, 1995

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Friday, May 22, 2020

soupçon

[ soop-sawn, soop-sawn ]

noun

a slight trace, as of a particular taste or flavor.

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What is the origin of soupçon?

To the Frenchless, soupçon looks as if it means “soupspoon.” In fact soupçon means “a hint, trace,” from Old French soupeçon, souspeçon, literally “suspicion, anxious worry,” from Late Latin suspectiōn– (stem of suspectiō), for Latin suspīciōn– “distrust, mistrust, suspicion.” Soupçon entered English in the 18th century.

how is soupçon used?

First, she repeated it rapturously in an enthusiastic contralto with a soupçon of Southern accent … 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, 1920

big summer movies, even the successful ones, are designed to be forgettable, passing through our system at precisely the same rate as a pint of Pepsi. Nothing is left but fizzing nerve ends and a sugary soupçon of rot.

Anthony Lane, "Men at Sea," The New Yorker, May 28, 2007

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