Word of the Day

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

zhuzh

[ zhoozh ]

verb

to make (something) more lively and interesting, stylish, or appealing, as by a small change or addition (usually followed by up): These colorful throw pillows are an easy way to zhuzh up your living room.

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What is the origin of zhuzh?

Zhuzh (also spelled zhoosh) as a verb means “to make (something) more lively, interesting, and stylish.” It is a fairly recent slang term, first appearing in the mid-1960s in gay communities in the U.K. in the sense “to improve the look of one’s clothing or outfit”; its current, more general sense dates from the mid-70s. The source of zhuzh, as with most slang terms, is problematic: zhuzh may be purely onomatopoeic, representing the sound of someone rushing around; it may be from Polari, a kind of British slang derived largely from Italian and used since the 18th century among theatrical and circus performers and in some gay and lesbian communities; finally, zhuzh may be from Romani zhouzhou “clean, neat.”

how is zhuzh used?

But don’t just throw some cooked rice into the bottom of a bowl! You’ve got to zhuzh it up before you pile on everything else so that every element is packed with flavor.

Kari Sonde, "Start your grain bowl right with these 5 jazzy rice recipes," Washington Post, August 1, 2019

First up was hairdressing icon Jonathan Van Ness, who wanted to keep the spirit of Gritty — but just zhuzh it up a bit.

James Dator, "Everything about Gritty getting a makeover on Queer Eye is good," SBNation.com, July 1, 2020

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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

hortatory

[ hawr-tuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee ]

adjective

urging to some course of conduct or action; exhorting; encouraging: a hortatory speech.

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What is the origin of hortatory?

Hortatory comes from Late Latin hortātōrius “encouraging, cheering,” an adjective that first appears in St. Augustine’s Confessions (a.d. 397–400). Hortātōrius ultimately derives from the verb horī “to urge,” from a Proto-Indo-European root gher-, ghor-, ghṛ– “to like, take pleasure.” From the variant gher-, Oscan, an extinct Italic language related to Latin, has Herentateís súm (“I am of the goddess Venus,” i.e., “I am a dedication to Venus”). Gher– yields Sanskrit háryati “(he) takes pleasure”; ghṛ– yields Greek chaírein “to rejoice” and cháris “grace, favor.” Hortatory entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is hortatory used?

He admired the man’s passion and fighting spirit, his wit, his hortatory style, his good looks and fine speech.

Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, translated by Richard and Clara Winston, 1969

Other summits serve a similar hortatory function: leading by example and pressuring others to do more.

Jessica F. Green, "The U.N. Climate Summit starts today. Here's what it can—and can't—achieve." Washington Post, September 23, 2019

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Monday, August 17, 2020

limn

[ lim ]

verb (used with object)

to portray in words; describe.

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What is the origin of limn?

Limn is not a misspelling of another word. It comes from the late Middle English verb lymne(n) (also limnen, liminen, limpnen, luminen) “to illuminate (a book, manuscript, or rubric),” a shortening of enlumine, from the Old French verb enluminer. Enluminer comes from Latin illūmināre or inlūmināre “to give light to, brighten, illuminate.” The root of the Latin verb is the noun lūmen (inflectional stem lūmin-) “light, radiance, rays of light,” from an unrecorded louksmen. Louksmen is derived from the common Proto-Indo-European root leuk-, louk-, luk– “white, bright,” which is also the source of Latin lūx (stem lūc-) “a light,” lūna “moon (from louksnā, which is also the source of Russian luná “moon”), Greek leukós “white, bright,” amphilýkē “twilight,” and Old English lēoht, līht (English light). Limn entered English in the first half of the 15th century.

how is limn used?

What we do as writers, paradoxically, is attempt at one and the same time to summon up the whole of experience, to limn the world at full tilt, and to render some small portion of this world with such specificity that, walking past, the reader feels the grit of it catching in the soles of shoes.

James Sallis, "Introduction," New Orleans Confidential by O'Neil De Noux, 2006

The creators of the blog Tom and Lorenzo limn the reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as a window into gay culture and history.

Monica Drake, "New & Noteworthy, From RuPaul to a Nine-Dish Meal," New York Times, March 4, 2020

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Sunday, August 16, 2020

vicarious

[ vahy-kair-ee-uhs, vi- ]

adjective

felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others: a vicarious thrill.

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What is the origin of vicarious?

The adjective vicarious comes from the Latin adjective and noun vicārius “substituting, taking the place of another; one who takes over for or from another, a replacement or successor.” Vicārius is formed from the noun vicis (a genitive singular—the nominative singular does not occur) “a recurring occasion, a turn; an interchange or alternation,” and the adjective suffix –ārius, completely naturalized in English as –ary. Vicārius regularly becomes vicaire, vicar(e) in Old French, and vicar(e), vicair(e) in Middle English, with many meanings, including “one delegated with apostolic authority, such as a priest or the pope; a priest appointed to a parish in place of the regular priest or parson.” Vicarious entered English in the 17th century.

how is vicarious used?

Laying a sleeping bag on the hard metal floor of a rail car as it rumbles down the tracks is not for those accustomed to creature comforts. Yet his photographs of this life-on-the-edge experience illicit a vicarious thrill.

Alexa Keefe, "Not Your Typical Travelogue: A Photographer's Train-Hopping Adventures," National Geographic, September 28, 2015

Track and field are some of the most exciting events in the Olympic Games, but after the weeks of hype, the events themselves are so short … that it seems like they’re over before a casual fan has time to get a vicarious adrenaline rush.

Elspeth Reeve, "Get to Know the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Through GIFs," The Atlantic, July 24, 2012

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Saturday, August 15, 2020

jubilee

[ joo-buh-lee, joo-buh-lee ]

noun

the celebration of any of certain anniversaries, especially the fiftieth (golden jubilee).

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What is the origin of jubilee?

Jubilee comes from Middle English jubilee, jeubile, from Old French jubilee, jubilé, from Late Latin (annus) jūbilaeus “(year) of jubilee,” from the Greek adjective iōbēlaîos, from the noun iṓbēlos “jubilee,” from the Hebrew noun yōbhēl “ram’s horn, jubilee.” The change of the expected Latin spelling jōbēlaeus to jūbilaeus is due to the Latin verb jūbilāre “to shout for joy.” Jubilee first appears in John Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible in 1382.

how is jubilee used?

Few British monarchs have reached the 50-year milestone. King George III and Queen Victoria marked their golden jubilees with huge celebrations.

Ceylan Yeginsu, "Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee Takes On Low-Key Tone," New York Times, February 6, 2017

To mark our silver jubilee, we look back at some of the biggest, brightest moments of the past 9,131 days.

"2008: Rachel Maddow Becomes First Queer Woman to Host Prime-Time News," Out, September 29, 2017

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Friday, August 14, 2020

de facto

[ dee fak-toh, dey ]

adverb, adjective

in fact; in reality: Although his title was prime minister, he was de facto president of the country.

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What is the origin of de facto?

The English adjective and adverb de facto, “in fact, really, in actuality (whether legal or illegal),” comes from the Latin phrase dē factō, from the preposition “of, from” and the noun factum “deed, act.” De facto is frequently contrasted with de jure, from the Latin phrase dē jūre “according to law, legally.” De facto entered English in the early 17th century.

how is de facto used?

Teachers will be safe at home, Hicks-Maxie noted. She doesn’t blame them. But she said that will leave child care workers as de facto teachers—at half the pay.

Nina Shapiro, "Hobbled by 1,000 closures, Washington's child care industry thrust into de facto teaching," Seattle Times, August 9, 2020

By choosing her as his political partner, Mr. Biden, if he wins, may well be anointing her as the de facto leader of the party in four or eight years.

Alexander Burns and , "Kamala Harris Is Biden's Choice for Vice President," New York Times, August 11, 2020

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Thursday, August 13, 2020

sinistrality

[ sin-uh-stral-i-tee ]

noun

left-handedness.

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What is the origin of sinistrality?

There is nothing sinister about sinistrality: the word simply means “left-handedness” (as opposed to right-handedness) or “left-sidedness.” Sinistrality is a derivation of the adjective sinistral, whose current sense is “on the left-hand side, left” (in Middle English sinistralle meant “unlucky, adverse”). Sinistrality entered English in the mid-19th century.

how is sinistrality used?

Kermit’s sinistrality leapt right off the page at me as soon as I saw the photograph of him with Bret McKenzie that accompanies Adam Sternbergh’s feature in this week’s magazine.

David Vecsey, "How About a Hand for the Muppets!" New York Times, November 18, 2011

There are reports of editors being 31 per cent lefty and of graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in math and science showing 45 per cent sinistrality.

Conrad Chyatte, "Sinistrality Unmasked at Last," American Bar Association Journal, May 1975

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