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an environmental cue, as the length of daylight or the degree of temperature, that helps to regulate the cycles of an organism's biological clock.
Zeitgeber “an environmental cue, such as the length of daylight, that helps regulate the biological clock of an organism,” comes from German Zeitgeber, literally “time giver,” a compound of Zeit “time” (cognate with English tide) and Geber, an agent noun from the verb geben “to give” (cognate with English give). The German term is formed on the analogy of Taktgeber “electronic synchronization device, timer, metronome.” Takt and Zeit are near synonyms except that Takt is more narrowly applied to music and rhythm. Zeitgeber entered English in the late 1950s.
Natural light is the best-known, though not the only, zeitgeber that syncs human sleep patterns up with the Earth’s 24-hour day.
Night-shift workers also struggle, he says, because they don’t get the environmental and social cues that help adjust the circadian clock. The most important of these cues, called zeitgebers (German for ”time givers”) is sunlight.
easily crumbled or reduced to powder; crumbly.
The English adjective friable comes from Middle French friable from Latin friābilis “easily crumbled, crumbly,” a derivative of the verb friāre “to break into small pieces, crumble.” Friāre is akin to the verb fricāre “to rub, chafe” (source of English friction) and the adjective frīvolus “worthless, trashy” (English frivolous). In the Olden Days, when studying Latin in high school was routine, some clever wag would reinvent for the millionth time the saying Sīc friat crustulum “Thus crumbles the cookie.” Friable entered English in the second half of the 16th century.
In some places, the limestone was so friable that, if you brushed a finger against it, it ran like sand through an hourglass.
In autumn, the days are pleasant, the soil friable, and there is a good choice of desired rose varieties.
a dining room, especially one containing a couch extending along three sides of a table, for reclining on at meals.
The uncommon noun triclinium comes from Latin trīclīnium, straight from Greek triklī́nion “dining room.” A triklī́nion was more precisely an arrangement of three chaise longues in the shape of a capital Greek pi (Π) on three sides of a central table for dining (the fourth side was left open for servants or busboys). Triklī́nion is a compound made up of the Greek (and Latin) combining form tri– “three,” as in triangle (a “three-cornered” geometric figure), triathlete, and tripod (literally “three-footed”). Klī́nion is a derivative of klī́nē “couch, bed, sickbed,” source of English clinic and clinical. Lying on couches while dining was introduced into Greece in the early seventh century b.c. from Asia Minor (now western Turkey). The Romans adopted the Greek custom via the Etruscans, and the Etruscans (and Romans) scandalized the Greeks by allowing citizen women (such as wives), to participate in banquets. Triclinium entered English in the first half of the 17th century.
Ancient Romans could recline on the triclinium’s long benches, discussing music, literature and other refined topics, while contemplating a vista of ecstatic abandon.
The most elegant type of Hellenistic derivation has a curving headrest or fulcrum at one end; but a true triclinium evidently required a matching set of three fitted together …
a turnabout, especially a reversal of opinion or policy.
Volte-face “a turnabout, reversal of opinion or policy, an about-face,” comes via French volte-face from Italian volta-faccia (also voltafaccia), a compound of volta, the imperative singular of the verb voltare “to turn” and the noun faccia “face.” Voltare comes from an unrecorded Vulgar Latin volvitāre, equivalent to Latin volvere “to turn, roll.” Faccia (and face) likewise come from the Vulgar Latin noun facia, from Latin faciēs “outward appearance, looks, face.” Volte-face entered English in the first half of the 19th century.
Grubman had shocked the rest of Wall Street by upgrading A.T. & T., a company he had criticized for years, from neutral to buy. He tried to justify his volte-face by saying that the phone giant’s purchase of a big cable company, Telecommunications Inc., had transformed its prospects, but this explanation was greeted with skepticism.
In the manner of the high school teacher he once was, Riordan begins with faint praise (“there are things I like about this adaptation”) before an abrupt volte face. “Having said that, here’s the bad news: The script as a whole is terrible,” he wrote, in a letter so beloved by his fans that it’s even been given dramatic readings.
a moderate or small amount.
Modicum in Latin means “a small, modest amount,” specifically of money, if we may be so crass. Modicum is a noun use of the neuter singular of the adjective modicus “(used for) measuring, moderate, restrained, slight,” a derivative of the noun modus “measured amount or quantity, limit, measure, time, melody.” Modus is a derivative of the verb meditārī “to think about, ponder, meditate,” from the Proto-Indo-European root med-, mēd-, mod-, mōd– “to measure, take proper measures, judge, cure.” Further Latin derivatives from this set of roots include medērī “to heal, cure,” medicus “physician,” medicīna “the art of medicine, the practice of medicine, the administration of medicines,” remediāre “to treat (successfully), cure,” and its derivative noun remediātiō (stem remediātiōn-), source of English remediate and remediation. The variant mod– also yields Latin modestus “restrained, temperate,” and its opposite immodestus “unrestrained, licentious,” English modest and immodest. Modicum entered English in the second half of the 14th century.
But by relieving himself of his secret he discovers at least a modicum of peace.
Anxiety and depression naturally arise when we perceive we have no power over a situation. Doing something, such as documenting seasonal changes, is a way to restore a modicum of control and a sense of well-being.
Fidelity “loyalty, faithfulness” comes via Middle English and Old French from the Latin noun fidēlitās (inflectional stem fidēlitāt-), a derivative of the adjective fidēlis (familiar to Americans from the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis “Always Faithful”). Fidēlis is a derivative of the noun fidēs “trust, assurance, guarantee.” The Latin forms come from the Proto-Indo-European root bheidh-, bhoidh-, bhidh– “to trust.” The variant bheidh– is the source of Latin fīdus “faithful, loyal,” fīdere “to trust, have confidence in,” Greek peísesthai “to trust, rely on, obey, be persuaded,” and Greek Peithṓ “(the goddess of) persuasion.” Bhoidh– is the source of Latin foedus “formal agreement, league, treaty” (source of English federal, federate, and confederate); the variant bhidh– forms Latin fidēs and Greek pístis “faith, trust, authentication,” and pistós “faithful, reliable, credible.” The English noun faith comes from Middle English feith, faith, from Old French feid, feit, fei, from Latin fidem, the accusative singular of fidēs. (The English pronunciation of faith is all but identical to that implied by the Old French forms, quite different from the modern French pronunciation.) Fidelity entered English in the early 16th century.
Through it all he’s shown a deep and abiding fidelity to one of our cherished ideals as a people and that is equal justice under the law.
The chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force issued similar messages, reinforcing their fidelity to the Constitution and pledging to battle racism in their ranks.
a small gift given with a purchase to a customer, by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus.
The word lagniappe “a gratuity, a tip” has wandered a very long way, indeed, from its original home. People rightly associate lagniappe with New Orleans, The Big Easy, renowned for its wonderful food, jazz, etc.; Mark Twain discusses lagniappe in his Life on the Mississippi (1883, chapter 44). Most Americans would think that lagniappe is a French word, which it is, but Louisiana French, not standard French (lagniappe is not a headword in the online Trésor de la Langue Française). Lagniappe comes from Spanish la ñapa, la yapa, la llapa with the same meaning. Ñapa, yapa, llapa in turn comes from Quechua yápa “something a little extra, a bonus,” in Irish English “a tilly” (from Irish Gaelic tuilleadh “an additional item or amount”). Yápa a derivative of the verb yapay “to give more.” Quechua is the language of the Incas, still vigorous and flourishing in the Andes of South America. Lagniappe entered English in the middle of the 19th century.
During the holidays, New Orleans diners discover a lagniappe (little something extra) at their favorite fine-dining restaurants.
Certainly the goody bag is essentially worthless—a few candies and a set of earplugs make up the typical lagniappe.