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[ zoh-fer-uhs ] [ ˈzoʊ fər əs ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


an architectural band on an outside wall decorated with sculptural representations of people or animals.

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More about zophorus

Zophorus “an architectural band decorated with animals,” also often spelled zoophorus, comes by way of Latin from Ancient Greek zōiophóros “bearing animals,” a compound of zôion “animal” and -phoros “bearing.” For more on zôion, compare the recent Word of the Day zooid. The element -phoros is the present participle of the verb phérein “to bear,” which is also the source of dysphoria, pheromone, the names Berenice and Christopher, and—far more distantly—the recent Word of the Day auriferous. Zophorus was first recorded in English circa 1560.

how is zophorus used?

[T]he external face of the zophorus, being coated with a very fine cement, had assimilated in colour with the marble of the building, so as to be deceptive, except upon minute inspection.

William Wilkins, Prolusiones Architectonicae, 1837

The architrave in both the Ionic and the Corinthian orders consists of plain slabs, but the frieze … is in nearly every case enriched with a series of beautiful figure subjects, and is therefore known as the Zoophorus or figure-bearer.

Nancy Meugens Bell, Architecture, 1914
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[ ahr-ee-oh-soh, ar- ] [ ˌɑr iˈoʊ soʊ, ˌær- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


in the manner of an air or melody.

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More about arioso

Arioso “in the manner of a melody” is a loanword from Italian, in which it means “songlike” and is a compound of aria “air, song” and –oso, an adjective-forming suffix meaning “-like.” Aria comes via Latin āēr from Ancient Greek āḗr “the lower atmosphere,” which is in contrast to aithḗr “the upper air,” the source of ether and ethereal (compare the recent Word of the Day empyrean). Though unconfirmed, āḗr may come from the same root as midair- or wind-related words such as aorta (from aortḗ “something carried”), artery (from artēria “windpipe”), aura (from aúrā “breath”), and meteor (from aeírein “to raise, lift”). Arioso was first recorded in English circa 1740.

how is arioso used?

[Composer Kaija Saariaho’s] ability to match every mood and shift in the words with music is remarkable, as is her brilliant use of the offstage chorus to add vocalization to the orchestra, and words when necessary. The score is lyrical, mysterious, powerful and hypnotic, and her melodic, arioso vocal lines ride this musical wave with intense drama.

Paula Citron, “Hitting the high notes,” The Globe and Mail, July 29, 2002

Think of Rodolfo’s Act I aria in La Bohème, “Che gelida manina,” in which he tells Mimì, who had knocked on his garret door just moments before, all about his life. The aria is like a monologue in which melodic phrases segue into stretches of arioso writing that straddle aria and recitative.

Anthony Tommasini, “Rehabilitating Puccini,” The Atlantic, November 6, 2018
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[ ee-ger, ey-ger ] [ ˈi gər, ˈeɪ gər ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a tidal bore or flood.

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More about eagre

Despite the similar spelling and identical pronunciation, the noun eagre “a tidal bore” is not related to the adjective eager “keen in desire.” While the adjective eager ultimately comes from Latin ācer “sharp,” the noun eagre (also agar, higre, hyger) has a peculiar and disputed history, with multiple competing ideas about its origin. It is possible that eagre somehow comes from Old English ēgor “flood” or Old Norse ægir “sea,” both of which are also of unclear derivation but may share a source with English island (from Old English īeg) and Latin aqua “water.” Eagre was first recorded in English in the 1640s.

how is eagre used?

The steamer Silveropolis was sharply and steadily cleaving the broad, placid shallows of the Sacramento River. A large wave like an eagre, diverging from its bow, was extending to either bank, swamping the tules and threatening to submerge the lower levees.

Bret Harte, “A Protégée of Jack Hamlin’s,” A Protégée of Jack Hamlin’s and Other Stories, 1894

One eagre occasionally runs eight miles inland, up the River Great Ouse to Wiggenhall, where it’s known as the ‘Wiggenhall wave.’ At the distant bend in the river, there was a sudden little shrug on the water’s surface and a crease appeared. Moving slowly but steadily, the crease rolled upstream as the bore pushed its way against the flow.

Dominick Tyler, “Uncommon Ground: a word-lover's guide to the British landscape,” The Guardian, March 9, 2015
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