Wednesday, October 01, 2014

word of the day: relict

The word of the day is relict:

1. Ecology. a species or community living in an environment that has changed from that which is typical for it.
2. a remnant or survivor.
3. a widow.
< Medieval Latin relicta widow, noun use of feminine of Latin relictus, past participle of relinquere to relinquish (
"Charcoal, piles of stones, and relict stands of crop plants showed that the northeast part of the island had been burned and laboriously converted to garden patches where crops could be planted in natural pockets of soil, extended by piling surface stones into mounds."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

word of the day: obsequy

The word of the day is obsequy:
noun, plural obsequies. Usually, obsequies
1. a funeral rite or ceremony.
< Late Latin obsequiae, alteration (by confusion with exsequiae funeral rites) of obsequia, plural of Latin obsequium (

"The implicit comparisons recur in Italy, where the men visit the towns in which the sexual outlaws Byron and Shelley lived, shortly before their deaths.  The comics perform funerary obsequies for the poets and again recite in their own and others' voices.  'The Trip to Italy', for all its japes, is haunted by mortality, as was its namesake, 'Viaggio in Italia' (1954), the Rosselini masterpiece starring George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman as a warring couple dismally on tour.  Like them, Coogan and Brydon visit the museum at Pompeii, with its plaster casts of the bodies of the dead.  Rosselini showed us a couple who died locked in embrace when Vesuvius exploded, a harsh reflection on the modern couple's marital anguish.  Here, in a blasphemous reduction, Brydon summons his man-in-a-box voice to play a Pompeian lying in a glass case; the two carry on a discreet gay flirtation.  It's not that the end is nigh for these men, but death, for them and for Winterbottom, is always present in life."

 - David Denby, "Lasting impressions: 'The Trip to Italy'", 1 September 2014 The New Yorker

Monday, September 29, 2014

word of the day: maunder

The word of the day is maunder:

verb (used without object)

1. to talk in a rambling, foolish, or meaningless way.
2. to move, go, or act in an aimless, confused manner (
"As a portrait of male friendship, the 'Trip' films are a triumph of the lean British comic style over the maunder and the mush of American bromance - Jason Segel and Seth Rogen pinching each other's blubber."
 - David Denby, "Lasting impressions: 'The Trip to Italy'", 1 September 2014 The New Yorker 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

word of the day: dyspeptic

The word of the day is dyspeptic:

1. pertaining to, subject to, or suffering from dyspepsia.
2. gloomy, pessimistic, and irritable.
peptikós pertaining to digestion (
"In the 'Trip' films, playing a version of himself, he's intelligent and dyspeptic, a man too clever to live by illusions but too ambitious to give them up.  He's dissatisfied with everything - his career, his relationship with his children, his waning sexual attractiveness - and he takes it out on his friend."
 - David Denby, "Lasting impressions: 'The Trip to Italy'", 1 September 2014 The New Yorker 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

word of the day: sally

The word of the day is sally:

1. a sortie of troops from a besieged place upon an enemy.
2. a sudden rushing forth or activity.
3. an excursion or trip, usually off the main course.
4. an outburst or flight of passion, fancy, etc.:
5. a clever, witty, or fanciful remark.
6. Carpentry. a projection, as of the end of a rafter beyond the notch by which the rafter is fitted over the wall plate.
< Middle French saillie attack, noun use of feminine past participle of saillir to rush forward < Latin salīre to leap (
"The pace almost equals that of Robin Williams doing standup, but Coogan and Brydon reprise their best sallies for rhythm and for emphasis, so you won't miss anything that matters."
 - David Denby, "Lasting impressions: 'The Trip to Italy'", 1 September 2014 The New Yorker 

Friday, September 26, 2014

word of the day: querulous

The word of the day is querulous:

1. full of complaints; complaining.
2. characterized by or uttered in complaint; peevish: a querulous tone; constant querulous reminders of things to be done.
< Latin querulus, equivalent to quer(ī) to complain (

"People are made for walking, but we are not very good at it; our backs and arches, like querulous cabinet ministers, at first complain and then resign."

 - Adam Gopnik, "Heaven's gaits: what we do when we walk", 1 September 2014 The New Yorker

Thursday, September 25, 2014

word of the day: louche

The word of the day is louche:

1. dubious; shady; disreputable.
< French: literally, cross-eyed < Latin luscus blind in one eye (
"When an impoverished student at Stanford, the first in his family to go to college, opts for a six-figure salary in finance after graduation, a very different but equally compelling kind of 'moral imagination' may be at play.  (Imagine being able to pay off your loans and never again having to worry about keeping a roof over your family's heads.)  William S. Burroughs, a corporate scion of elite genealogy, began reinventing himself at Harvard as a louche explorer of the underworld.  Why shouldn't someone who grew up in a crack-blighted neighborhood be equally free to imagine himself as a suit?"
 - Nathan Heller, "Poison ivy: Are elite colleges bad for the soul?", 1 September 2014 The New Yorker