Word of the Day

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

wordie

[ wur-dee ]

noun

a person with an enthusiastic interest in words and language; a logophile: a new board game that will appeal to wordies of all ages.

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What is the origin of wordie?

Wordie in the sense “someone with an enthusiasm for words,” is relatively recent. There is also an older sense, “a little, wee word,” Scottish, dating from the first half of the 18th century and used by Robert Burns.

how is wordie used?

Eric has been a wordie since he was a kid growing up in New York City, a Games magazine acolyte who read the dictionary for fun and subscribes to Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics

Stefan Fatsis, Word Freak, 2001

As a teacher of English, a part-time poet and a full-time wordie, I took genuine delight in Patricia T. O’Conner’s review of books about language by Ben Yagoda and David Crystal ….

Stephen J. Kudless, "Speech, Speech!" Letter to the Editor, New York Times, April 1, 2007
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

flagitious

[ fluh-jish-uhs ]

adjective

shamefully wicked, as persons, actions, or times.

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What is the origin of flagitious?

English flagitious ultimately comes from the Latin adjective flāgitiōsus, “shameful, shocking,” a derivative of the noun flāgitium, a very strong word in Latin meaning “a public demonstration of disapproval outside someone’s house, an offense against decency, disgrace, infamy,” is often applied to sexual misconduct, and even worse, to violations against military discipline. Flāgitium is related to flāgitāre “to press someone with demands, importune, dun (a debtor), summon someone to trial.” Flāgitāre in its turn is probably related to the noun flagrum “a whip, lash, flail (for punishment).” The Latin root flag– is also the source of flagellum “a whip,” flagellāre “to whip,” from which English derives flagellate, flagellant, and flagellation. Flagitious entered English in the 14th century.

how is flagitious used?

… his faith is pure, though his manners are flagitious.

Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776–1788

He should have persisted in gloom, which would eventually earn a commercial reward that outran the avarice of his most flagitious villains.

Caleb Crain, "Something Wicked This Way Comes," New York Times, December 6, 1998
Monday, October 14, 2019

recherché

[ ruh-shair-shey, ruh-shair-shey; French ruh-sher-shey ]

adjective

sought out with care.

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What is the origin of recherché?

The adjective recherché “carefully sought out, rare, exotic, obscure, elegant, pretentious,” comes straight from French recherché, the past participle of the verb rechercher “to look for carefully, research.” The prefix re– in rechercher indicates repetition; the verb chercher “to look for,” comes from Late Latin circāre “to go around,” a derivation of circus “circle.” (English search comes from Old French cerchier, French chercher.) Recherché entered English in the 17th century.

how is recherché used?

… a tasteful and récherché stock of frames and feathers and ribbons was chosen ….

William Dean Howells, A Woman's Reason, 1882

But, among the books which load their shelves, there is the most recherché collection of European standard works to be found in this country ….

, "Scribner & Co.," New York Times, December 12, 1874

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