Word of the Day

Friday, April 19, 2019

yealing

[ yee-lin ]

noun

Scot.

a person of the same age as oneself.

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What is the origin of yealing?

Yealing “a contemporary, a coeval” is a word of uncertain etymology, used by only three Scottish poets: Allan Ramsay (1686–1758), Robert Burns (1759–1796), and Robert Couper (1750–1818). Yealing entered English in the 18th century.

how is yealing used?

Oh ye, my dear-remember’d ancient yealings, / Were ye but here to share my wounded feelings!

Robert Burns, "The Brigs of Ayr," Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, Edinburgh Edition, 1787

His bonny, various, yeelin‘ frien’s / Cam a’ in bourrochs there ….

Robert Couper, "Macguldrochiana," Poetry Chiefly in the Scottish Language, 1804
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Thursday, April 18, 2019

facultative

[ fak-uhl-tey-tiv ]

adjective

left to one's option or choice; optional: The last questions in the examination were facultative.

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What is the origin of facultative?

The adjective facultative comes via the French adjective facultatif (masculine), facultative (feminine) “conveying or granting a right or power,” from the noun faculté “knowledge, learning, physical or moral capacity.” French faculté is ultimately from Latin facultāt-, the stem of facultās “ability, power, capacity” (originally a doublet of the noun facilitās “ease, ease of performance or completion, facility”). The French adjective suffix –atif, –ative comes from the Latin suffix –ātivus; the English suffix –ative comes from both French and Latin. Facultative entered English in the 19th century.

how is facultative used?

I cannot but be conscious, when this toast of “Science and Literature” is given, that in what tends to become the popular view it is Sir William Grove and Science who are obligatory; it is I and Literature who are facultative.

Matthew Arnold, "Banquet at the Royal Academy," The Times, May 2, 1881

From the facultative point of view, Poe thinks of poetry as a rhythmic and musical use of language which is the province of Taste alone, and which aspires to Beauty.

Richard Wilbur, "Terror Wasn't His Only Talent," New York Times, September 9, 1984
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

lese majesty

[ leez maj-uh-stee, lez ]

noun

an attack on any custom, institution, belief, etc., held sacred or revered by numbers of people: Her speech against Mother's Day was criticized as lese majesty.

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What is the origin of lese majesty?

It is not very often that there is a transparent connection between French (and English) and Latin, but lese majesty is such a term. In modern French the term is lèsemajesté, from Middle French laise majeste “a crime against the king, treason.” The French forms derive from Latin laesa mājestās “injured majesty (of the sovereign people, state, or emperor).” Laesa is the past participle of the verb laedere “to hurt, harm” (of uncertain etymology); mājestās is a derivative of the comparative adjective major “greater, larger, bigger.” Lese majesty entered English in the 15th century.

how is lese majesty used?

At the risk of lese-majesty, it [Windsor Castle] reminded me of a toy castle, part Disney, part Austrian schloss.

Nick Glass, "St. George's Chapel: The historic venue where Harry and Meghan are getting married," CNN, May 3, 2018

… his father was in jail for lese majesty—what you call speaking the truth about the Emperor.

Jack London, The Iron Heel, 1907

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