Monday, June 29, 2015

Word of the day: praxis

The word of the day is praxis:

  1. practice, as distinguished from theory; application or use, as of knowledge or skills.
  2. convention, habit, or custom.
  3. a set of examples for practice.
1581, from M.L. praxis "practice, action" (c.1255, opposite of theory), from Gk. praxis "practice, action, doing," from stem of prassein "to do, to act."(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/praxis)


"I don't see any real distinction between religion and magic, or for that matter between gods and magicians.  I think divine power is just another form of magical praxis.  You know what Arthur C. Clarke said about technology and magic, right?  Turn it around.  What is advanced magic indistinguishable from?  Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from the miraculous."

 - Lev Grossman, The Magician King

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Word of the day: derrick

The word of the day is derrick:

  1. Machinery. a jib crane having a boom hinged near the base of the mast so as to rotate about the mast, for moving a load toward or away from the mast by raising or lowering the boom.
  2. Also called oil derrick. the towerlike framework over an oil well or the like.
  3. a boom for lifting cargo, pivoted at its inner end to a ship's mast or kingpost, and raised and supported at its outer end by topping lifts. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/derrick)

"Because they were the size of derricks, its arms moved slowly, traversing enormous distances, but they never stopped moving."

 - Lev Grossman, The Magician King

Friday, June 26, 2015

Word of the day: hypnagogic

The word of the day is hypnagogic:

  1. of or pertaining to drowsiness.
  2. inducing drowsiness. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hypnagogic)

"It was a will-o'-the-wisp leading her onward, farther into the perilous marsh of Bed-Stuy, deeper into a dreamlike, hypnagogic state."

- Lev Grossman, The Magician King

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Word of the day: verger

The word of the day is verger:

Chiefly British. a church official who serves as sacristan, caretaker, usher, and general attendant. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/verger)


"The atmosphere was of an old country church from which the verger had stepped away for a few minutes."

- Lev Grossman, The Magician King

Word of the day: vergescu

The word of the day is vergescu:

The white shield that was the mark of noviceknights, especially in Arthurian legend. (http://www.dictionaryfocus.com/?action=definition&word=vergescu)


"Quentin felt like the little boy at the beginning of The Lorax, at the mysterious tower of the dismal Once-ler.  They should have been facing down bellowed challenges from black knights bearing the vergescu, or solving thorny theological dilemmas posed by holy hermits.  Or at the very least resisting the diabolical temptations of ravishing succubi.  Not fighting off seasonal affective disorder."

- Lev Grossman, The Magician King

Word of the day: piste

The word of the day is piste:

(in fencing) a regulation-size strip, usually 2 meters wide and 14 meters long, on which fencers compete. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/piste)


"A man was on his hands and knees on the floor ruling out the piste with a lump of chalk."

 - Lev Grossman, The Magician King

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Word of the day: windlass

The word of the day is windlass:

a device for raising or hauling objects, usually consisting of a horizontal cylinder or barrel turned by a crank, lever, motor, or the like, upon which a cable, rope, or chain winds, the outer end of the cable being attached directly or indirectly to the weight to be raised or the thing to be hauled or pulled; winch.

device for raising weights by winding arope round cylinder, c.1400, alterationof wyndase (1293), from Anglo-Fr. windas,and directly from Scand. source such asO.N. vindass, from vinda "to wind" (seewind (v.)) ass "pole, beam." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/windlass)


"They walked, slowly, all the way from one end of the docks to the other, stepping over taut guy ropes and squashed and dried fish carcasses and weaving their way around massive stanchions and windlasses and through labyrinths of stacked crates."

 - Lev Grossman, The Magician King

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Word of the day: cordite

The word of the day is cordite:

smokeless, slow-burning powdercomposed of 30 to 58 percentnitroglycerin, 37 to 65 percentcellulose nitrate, and to percentmineral jelly.

smokeless explosive," 1889, from cord; so called for its "curiously string-like appearance" in the words of a newspaper of the day. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cordite)


"An hour after the press conference, Feinstein, in her small office on the second floor of City Hall, saw her fellow-supervisor Dan White run past... Minutes later, she heard gunshots and smelled cordite."

 - Connie Bruck, "The Inside War: To expose torture, Dianne Feinstein fought the C.I.A.—and the White House", 22 June 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/22/the-inside-war)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Word of the day: valedictory

The word of the day is valedictory:

  1. an address or oration delivered at the commencement exercises of a college or school on behalf of the graduating class.
  2. any farewell address or oration. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/valedictory)

"After five decades in politics, Feinstein, at eighty-one, is the oldest sitting member of the Senate, where a late term is often less a valedictory than a chance for activism: think of Edward Kennedy or Mitch McConnell."

 - Connie Bruck, "The Inside War: To expose torture, Dianne Feinstein fought the C.I.A.—and the White House", 22 June 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/22/the-inside-war)

Word of the day: brindle

The word of the day is brindle:

gray or tawny with darker streaks or spots

"marked with streaks, streaked with a dark color," 1670s, from M.E. brended (early 15c.), from bren "brown color" (13c.), noun made from pp. of brennen "burn," perhaps meaning "marked as though by branding or burning." Form altered perhaps by influence of kindled


"Item 2188, Infant Teething Toy: Features a hundred tasty blobs of pre-congealed lead-based paint.  Specify January Dun, February Brindle, March Khaki, or November Gray."

 - Bruce McCall, "Shouts & Murmurs: Shop till we make you drop", 22 June 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/22/shop-till-we-make-you-drop)