Wednesday, November 26, 2014

word of the day: aphorism

The word of the day is aphorism:

a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).
French aphorisme < Late Latin aphorismus < Greek aphorismós definition, equivalent to aphor (ízein) to define (see aphorize ) + -ismos -ism (
"When, in 2004, Daniel Boulud went looking for a new pastry chef for his main New York restaurant, someone in Paris suggested Ansel, and though on his arrival here he spoke scarcely a word of English - he now speaks it with crisp, aphoristic clarity - he had a very successful run in the high-end restaurant."
 - Adam Gopnik, "Bakeoff: What is happening to our pastry?", 3 November 2014 The New Yorker 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

word of the day: pediment

The word of the day is pediment:

1. (in classical architecture) a low gable, typically triangular with a horizontal cornice and raking cornices, surmounting a colonnade, an end wall, or a major division of a façade.
2. any imitation of this, often fancifully treated, used to crown an opening, a monument, etc., or to form part of a decorative scheme.
3. Geology. a gently sloping rock surface at the foot of a steep slope, as of a mountain, usually thinly covered with alluvium.
earlier pedament, pedement, alteration, by association with Latin pēs (stem ped-) foot, of earlier peremint, perhaps an unlearned alteration of pyramid; (def 3) by construal as pedi- + -ment (
"Careme created pastry temples in evocative ruin, resting on marzipan rocks; pastry pediments and pyramids and Chinese pavilions."
 - Adam Gopnik, "Bakeoff: What is happening to our pastry?", 3 November 2014 The New Yorker 

Monday, November 24, 2014

word of the day: schnecken

The word of the day is schnecken:

sweet, spiral, snail-shaped rolls made from raised dough with chopped nuts, butter, and cinnamon.
< German: literally, snail, Old High German snecko.  (
"But it would not be going to far to say that the coexistence of the pretzel croissant and the Cronut is worth thinking of as a form of competition, if only on purely Darwinian terms, in which all coexistence is a competition held briefly in equilibrium, particularly because their coexistence is representative of something new, pervasive, and quite possibly perverse: the hybridized and fetishized schnecken."
 - Adam Gopnik, "Bakeoff: What is happening to our pastry?", 3 November 2014 The New Yorker 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

word of the day: foolscap

The word of the day is foolscap:

a type of inexpensive writing paper, especially legal-size, lined, yellow sheets, bound in tablet form.
so called from the watermark of a fool's cap formerly used on such paper (
"What stands out in my memory is not so much the dish itself - I've both cooked and eaten it so often that I know it by heart - as the recipe's length.  It covered two closely written sides of lined foolscap, and began with detailed instructions on how to turn on and light a gas burner."
 - John Lancaster, "Shut up and eat: a foodie repents", 3 November 2014 The New Yorker 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

word of the day: zeppole

The word of the day is zeppole:

"Delicious fried cookies made with ricotta cheese. These are also known as Italian doughnuts"  (

"Either the President's in town or they're selling zeppoles on Seventh Avenue."

 - Paul Noth, cartoon, 6 October 2014 The New Yorker

Friday, November 21, 2014

word of the day: knaidel

The word of the day is knaidel:

a dumpling, especially a small ball of matzo meal, eggs, and salt, often mixed with another foodstuff, as ground almonds or grated potato, usually served in soup.
< Yiddish kneydl dumpling; compare Middle High German knödel lump, ovary of a flower, German Knödel dumpling (

"chopped liver first or herring or eggs and onions,
then matzo-ball soup or noodle or knaidel, followed by
roast veal or boiled beef and horseradish..."

 - Gerald Stern, "The world we should have stayed in", 6 October 2014 The New Yorker

Thursday, November 20, 2014

word of the day: imprimatur

The word of the day is imprimatur:

1. an official license to print or publish a book, pamphlet, etc., especially a license issued by a censor of the Roman Catholic Church.
2. sanction or approval; support.
Neo-Latin: let it be printed, Latin: let it be made by pressing upon (something) (

"'We fled the country when we heard what was happening at Bluttenbad, taking only our leotards, tights, toe shoes, and tennis rackets (picking up alarm clocks for symbolic, not time-telling, purposes as we skulked through Amplochacha in the dead of night), and by the grace of God, on fake passports, we journeyed to a distant land with intentions to immigrate once a cousin there could secure through hidden connections our fast-forward imprimatur,' explained Kamila on behalf of Ladislas, Toosla, and Laslo to Rafael Todos los Muertos, who'd tracked them down and was conducting an elusive interview by phone....

"'It's either the apogee of design for this apoplectic decade or a blunder of vast dimensions,' equivocated Jacomino Vervazzo, withholding his weighty imprimatur from Eloria's new opera house - where dislocated divas and truculent tenors alike declared they would never air their arias."

 - Karen Elizabeth Gordon, Out of the Loud Hound of Darkness: A Dictionarrative