Word Of The Year
that with which to do something; means or supplies for the purpose or need, especially money.
The noun wherewithal, “the means or supplies for a need, especially money,” is composed of the adverbs where and withal “with, by means of which.” The oblique sense “money” seems to be from a phrase such as “the X by means of which to do something,” the unexpressed X being money. Wherewithal entered English in the 16th century.
In Los Angeles and Oakland, it became a status symbol to have the wherewithal to take in roomers.
Most new nonprofits do not have the financial wherewithal to use direct mail, which is expensive, and thus rely on e-mail and other technology-based means of communication.
impossible to eliminate, forget, or change.
Most people probably learn the word indelible in grammar school (a.k.a. primary school, elementary school, lower school) specifically and only referring to permanent ink, which cannot be easily erased or removed. The modern spelling, indelible, arose in the second half of the 17th century, replacing the earlier, more etymologically correct indeleble. Indelible comes from Medieval Latin indēlibilis and is equivalent to Latin indēlēbilis “indestructible, imperishable.” Indēlēbilis is a compound of the Latin negative prefix in– (from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-) and the adjective dēlēbilis “that can be defaced or obliterated,” a derivative of the verb dēlēre “to destroy, annihilate.” Cato the Elder fought in the Second Punic War as a private soldier, and many Americans will remember the sentence with which Cato ended every speech in the Senate: Carthāgō dēlenda est “Carthage must be destroyed.” Indeleble entered English in the second half of the 16th century, indelible in the second half of the 17th century.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made an indelible mark on the law as an advocate for gender equality long before she became an icon on the U.S. Supreme Court.
There in a classroom, amid a cohort of presumed losers and layabouts, I took my lessons in the great sin of idleness. The venue at least felt appropriate: the classroom had always been the site of my most indelible failures and losses.
haughtily disdainful or contemptuous, as a person or a facial expression.
Supercilious comes from the Latin adjective superciliōsus, which has only one meaning, “full of stern or disapproving looks.” Superciliōsus is a derivative of the noun supercilium “eyebrow; the eyebrow and its underlying ridge; the eyebrow as used in expressing haughtiness, disapproval, sternness.” Supercilium is a compound of the preposition and prefix super, super– “above, beyond,” and cilium “eyelid” (unless cilium is a back formation from supercilium). At any rate, cilium is a derivative of the verb cēlāre “to hide,” that is, the eyelid hides the eye. Supercilious entered English at the end of the 14th century.
Culkin inhabits space with a squalid sort of entitlement, and he employs a supercilious side-eye as if twirling a mustache.
For, though elated by his rank, it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary, he was all attention to everybody.
the study of elections.
Psephology, “the study of elections,” comes from Greek psêphos “small stone, pebble.” (The Greeks used pebbles in counting and arithmetic functions; the ancient Athenians also used pebbles to cast votes in elections and trials.) The element –logy is the completely naturalized combining form used in the names of sciences (geology, biology) and bodies of knowledge (theology, astrology). The 20th-century British historian R.B. McCallum wrote in a personal letter that while with C.S. Lewis and other heavy-hitting philologists, he proposed the term electionology, which so offended the sensibilities of Lewis and the others that they proposed the etymologically correct psephology, avoiding the dreadful Latin-Greek hybrid. Psephology entered English in the mid-20th century.
You don’t need a degree in psephology from the Kennedy School of Government to figure out that without the female vote and the male vote it’s hard to be elected President.
Well, for one thing, we’re inveterate psephology addicts—but also, the more special elections that occur, the more data we have to identify patterns not only across special elections, but within them.
a cloud, aura, atmosphere, etc., surrounding a person or thing.
Nimbus, “shining cloud surrounding a deity; dense clouds with ragged edges,” comes straight from Latin nimbus, “rainstorm, rain cloud, cloud (of smoke), cloudburst.” Nimbus comes from a complicated Proto-Indo-European root (e)nebh-, (n)embh– “damp, vapor, cloud,” as in Sanskrit nábhas– “fog, vapor, cloud, heaven,” Latin nebula, Greek nephélē, néphos “cloud,” Old Irish nem and Welsh nef, both meaning “heaven,” Polish niebo “sky, heaven,” Hittite nebis “heaven,” German Nebel “fog, mist,” and Old Norse nifl–heimr “home of fog, abode of the dead, Niflheim.” Nimbus entered English in the early 17th century.
She had a capacity for excess, and a nimbus of exhausted hedonism trailed along with her.
It is curious how certain words accumulate a nimbus of positive associations, while others, semantically just as innocuous, wind up shrouded in bad feelings.
something wanted or needed.
The noun desideratum (plural desiderata) means “something wanted or needed.” It is a noun use of the Latin neuter past participle dēsīderātum, from the verb dēsīderāre “to long for, desire.” According to the Roman grammarian Festus, dēsīderāre and its close relative cōnsīderāre “to observe attentively, contemplate,” were compound verbs formed from sīdus (stem sīder-) “heavenly body, star, planet,” that is, dēsīderāre and cōnsīderāre were originally terms used in astrology in general or Roman augury in particular, but aside from Festus there isn’t much evidence for the sidereal connection. Desideratum entered English in the 17th century.
Power becomes its own desideratum. The search for it can trump economic well being, stability and safety.
Sitzfleisch, or “sitting still,” became the ultimate desideratum for showing one’s understanding of the new language of classical music.
mild or merciful in disposition or character; lenient; compassionate.
Clement, “mild in disposition, merciful,” comes from Latin clēmēns (inflectional stem clēment-) “merciful, lenient, mild (of weather), calm (of water).” Clēmēns has no reliable etymology; its most common derivative is the noun clēmentia “clemency, leniency.” The phrase “clemency of Caesar” is not much used nowadays: It comes from Latin Clēmentia Caesaris, which first appears as part of an inscription on a Roman coin dating to 44 b.c., therefore shortly before Caesar’s assassination, and a nice bit of propaganda in his honor. Clement entered English in the late 15th century.
I know you are more clement than vile men Who of their broken debtors take a third …
And the spirit of the times is happily growing more clement toward a greater fulness and variety of life.