Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Word of the day: redolent

The word of the day is redolent:

  1. having a pleasant odor; fragrant.
  2. odorous or smelling (usually followed by of ): redolent of garlic.
  3. suggestive; reminiscent (usually followed by of ): verse redolent of Shakespeare.
c.1400, from O.Fr. redolent "emitting an odor," from L. redolentem, prp. of redolere "emit a scent," from re-, intensive prefix + olere "give off a smell" (see odor).

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/redolent)


"What animates the story is López’s score, which begins in full fury—dark, ragged fanfares in the brass, redolent of the main-title theme of a nineteen-fifties Hollywood thriller—and hardly lets up."

 - Alex Ross, "Divas Under Fire: Two new American operas: 'Bel Canto' and 'Great Scott'", 4 January 2016 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/01/04/divas-under-fire)

A whiff of music?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Word of the day: flywhisk

The word of the day is flywhisk:

  1. a device for brushing away flies, often made of horsehair.
  2. a fan used to keep cool and to keep insects away.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flywhisk)


"Because the Inka was believed to be an immortal deity, his mummy was treated, logically enough, as if it were still living.  Soon after arriving in Qosqo, Pizarro's companion Miguel de Estete saw a parade of defunct emperors.  They were brought out on litters, 'seated on their thrones and surrounded by pages and women with flywhisks in their hands, who ministered to them with as much respect as if they had been alive.'"

 - Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Word of the day: drub

The word of the day is drub:

  1. to beat with a stick or the like; cudgel; flog; thrash.
  2. to defeat decisively, as in a game or contest.
  3. to drive as if by flogging: Latin grammar was drubbed into their heads.
  4. to stamp (the feet).
1630s (in an Oriental travel narrative), probably from Arabic darb "a beating," from daraba "he beat up." Related: Drubbing.

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/drub)


"Foot soldiers have often drubbed mounted troops.  At the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., the outnumbered, outarmored Athenian infantry destroyed the cavalry of the Persoan emperor Darius I."

 - Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Word of the day: caravel

The word of the day is caravel:
  1. a small Spanish or Portuguese sailing vessel of the Middle Ages and later, usually lateen-rigged on two or three masts.
1527, from M.Fr. caravelle, from Port. caravela dim. of caravo "small vessel," from L.L. carabus "small wicker boat covered with leather," from Gk. karabos, lit. "beetle, lobster."

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/caravel)


"To make boats, Andean cultures wove together reeds rather than cutting up trees into planks and nailing them together.  Although smaller than big European ships, these vessels were not puddle-muddlers; Europeans first encountered Tawantinsuyu in the form of an Inka ship sailing near the equator, three hundred miles from its home port, under a load of fine cotton sails.  It had a crew of twenty and was easily the size of a Spanish caravelle."

 - Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Word of the day: dyadic

The word of the day is dyadic:
  1. of or consisting of a dyad; being a group of two.
  2. pertaining to the number 2.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dyadic)


"Similarly, Urton told me, binary oppositions were a hallmark of the region's peoples, who lived in societies 'typified to an extraordinary degree by dual organization,' from the division of town populations into complementary 'upper' and 'lower' halves (moieties, in the jargon) to the arrangement of poetry into dyadic units."

 - Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Word of the day: marshal

The word of the day is marshal:
  1. to arrange in proper order; set out in an orderly manner; arrange clearly: to marshal facts; to marshal one's arguments.
  2. to array, as for battle.
  3. to usher or lead ceremoniously: Their host marshaled them into the room.
  4. Heraldry. to combine (two or more coats of arms) on a single escutcheon.
early 13c., from O.Fr. mareschal, originally "stable officer, horse tender, groom" (Frankish L. mariscaluis) from Frank. *marhskalk, lit. "horse-servant" (cf. O.H.G. marahscalc "groom"), from P.Gmc. *markhaz "horse" (see mare (1)) + *skalkaz "servant" (cf. Du. schalk "rogue, wag," Goth. skalks "servant"). Cognate with O.E. horsþegn. For development history, cf. constable. The verb "to arrange for fighting" is from 1580s. 

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/marshal)


"In this book I tend to marshal terms like 'king' and 'nation' rather than 'chief' and 'tribe.'"

 - Charles Mann, 1493: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Friday, December 11, 2015

Word of the day: roach

The word of the day is roach:

noun

  1. Nautical.
    1. the upward curve at the foot of a square sail.
    2. (loosely) a convexity given to any of the edges of a sail; round.
  2. hair combed up from the forehead or temples in a roll or high curve.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/roach)


"But sometimes they cut their hair into such wild patterns that attempting to imitate them, Wood sniffed, 'would torture the word of a curious barber.'  Tonsures, pigtails, head completely shaved but for a single forelock, long sides drawn into a queue with a raffish short-cut roach in the middle—all of it was prideful and abhorrent to the Pilgrims."

 - Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Word of the day: skirl

The word of the day is skirl:
  1. to play the bagpipe.
  2. Scot. and North England to shriek.

c.1400, "to make a shrill sound," from a Scand. source (cf. Norw. skyrla, skrella "to shriek"), of imitative origin. In reference to bagpipes, it is attested by 1665 and now rarely used otherwise.

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/skirl)


"Voices would skirl up in the darkness: one person singing a lullaby, then another person, until everyone was asleep."

 - Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Word of the day: didder

The word of the day is didder:

dial Brit

Origin

ME didderen

(http://i.word.com/idictionary/didder)


"Going to sleep in the firelight, young Tisquantum would have stared up at the diddering shadows of the hemp bags and bark boxes hanging from the rafters."

 - Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Word of the day: flinders

The word of the day is flinders:
  1. splinters; small pieces or fragments.
mid-15c., Scottish flendris, probably related to Norw. flindra "chip, splinter," or Du. flenter "fragment," ult. from the same PIE root that produced flint (q.v.).

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flinder)


"Soon after 1000 A.D. Tiwanaku split into flinders that would not be united for another four centuries, when the Inka swept them up."

 - Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Word of the day: ostinato

The word of the day is ostinato:
  1. a constantly recurring melodic fragment.
1876, from It. ostinato, lit. "obstinate, persistent."

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ostinato)

"As so often in Welles’s work, the imagery is accented by the sound: amid the noise of writhing bodies, we hear an ostinato of crickets."

 - Alex Ross, "The Shadow: A hundred years of Orson Welles", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/the-shadow)

Word of the day: hackwork

The word of the day is hackwork:

  1. writing, painting, or any professional work done for hire and usually following a formula rather than being motivated by any creative impulse.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hackwork)


"This is largely how today’s culture has chosen to remember Welles: as a pompous wreck, a man who peaked early and then devolved into hackwork and bloated fiascos."

 - Alex Ross, "The Shadow: A hundred years of Orson Welles", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/the-shadow)

Word of the day: muggins

The word of the day is muggins:

  1. a convention in the card game of cribbage in which a player scores points overlooked by an opponent.
  2. a game of dominoes, in which any player who can make the sum of two ends of the line equal five or a multiple of five adds the number so made to his or her score.
  3. British Slang. a fool.
"fool, simpleton," 1855, apparently from the surname, perhaps influenced by slang mug "dupe, fool" (see mug (n.2)).

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/muggins)


"Her? No, snug as a bug in Sheffield, thanks very much. It’s muggins here that has to go to fucking Lanzarote."

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)

Word of the day: abaya

The word of the day is abaya:

  1. a coarse, felted fabric woven of camel's or goat's hair.
  2. a loose, sleeveless outer garment made of this fabric or of silk, worn by Arabs.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/aba)


"First, a mother of a certain age, a grandmother, probably, tall, dressed in the rigid black of the full abaya, with her half-veiled face pointed straight ahead."

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)
 

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Word of the day: bonce

The word of the day is bonce:

 British Slang.

  1. head; skull.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bonce)


"I mean, when your bonce goes, I ask you, what is the sense of carrying on?"

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 
The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)

Phrase of the day: all over the gaff

The phrase of the day is all over the gaff:

general term to describe someone or something that has no direction or that is in a mess. 

(http://www.slang-dictionary.org/all_over_the_gaff)

"And what’s the state of her, then, eh? Can she hold a thought in her head for two minutes? Or is she all over the gaff like mine?"

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)

Word of the day: windcheater

The word of the day is windcheater:

Chiefly British .
  1. lightweight jacket for sports or otheroutdoor wear.

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/windcheater)


"But in Salzburg two days earlier I saw seventy or eighty of them lined up on a street corner, very predominantly very young men, in international teen-age gear: baseball caps, luminous windcheaters, dark glasses."

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)

Word of the day: galère

The word of the day is galère:

a group of people having an attribute in common

French, galley, from Middle French, from Catalan galera, from Middle Greek galea
First Use: 1756

(http://i.word.com/idictionary/galère)


"And it was as if Bernhardt’s camera had set itself the task of individualization, because here was a black-and-white galère of immediately and endearingly recognizable shapes and faces, bantering, yawning, frowning, grinning, scowling, weeping, in postures of exhaustion, stoic dynamism, and, of course, extreme uncertainty and dismay. . . ."

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)

Word of the day: insensate

The word of the day is insensate:

  1. not endowed with sensation; inanimate
  2. without human feeling or sensitivity; cold; cruel; brutal.
  3. without sense, understanding, or judgment; foolish.
1519, from L.L. insensatus "irrational, foolish," from L. in- "not" + sensatus "gifted with sense." Insensate means "not capable of feeling sensation," often "inanimate;" insensible means "lacking the power to feel with the senses," hence, often, "unconscious;" insensitive (1610), from M.L. sensitivus, means "having little or no reaction to what is perceived by one's senses," often "tactless."

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/insensate)


"The entity accumulating at the borders, the entity for which they were bracing and were even rousing themselves to greet with good will and good grace, seemed amorphous, undifferentiated, almost insensate—like a force of nature."

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)

Word of the day: boyar

The word of the day is boyar:

  1. Russian History. a member of the old nobility of Russia, before Peter the Great made rank dependent on state service.
  2. a member of a former privileged class in Romania.
(1590s, "member of a Russian aristocratic class (abolished by Peter the Great)," from Rus. boyarin, perhaps from boji "struggle," or from O.Slav. root bol- "great.")

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/boyar)


"When January dawned in 1924, Vladimir (a year older than the century) was in Prague, helping his mother and his two younger sisters settle into their cheap and freezing new apartment... These former boyars were now displaced and deracinated—and had 'no money at all.'"

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Word of the day: cockade

The word of the day is cockade:
  1. a rosette, knot of ribbon, etc., usually worn on the hat as part of a uniform, as a badge of office, or the like.

1709, from Fr. cocarde, fem. of cocard "foolishly proud, cocky," an allusive extension from coq (see cock (n1.)).

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cockade)


"In great numbers, the Oktoberfesters were streaming past, the women in cinched dirndls and wenchy blouses, the men in suède or leather breeches laced just below the knee, tight jackets studded with medals or badges, and jaunty little hats with feathers, rosettes, cockades."

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)

Word of the day: rosette

The word of the day is rosette:
  1. any arrangement, part, object, or formation more or less resembling a rose.
  2. a rose-shaped arrangement of ribbon or other material, used as an ornament or badge.
  3. Also, rosace. an architectural ornament resembling a rose or having a generally circular combination of parts.
  4. Botany. a circular cluster of leaves or other organs.
  5. a broad ornamental head for a screw or nail.
  6. Metallurgy.
    1. any of a number of disks of refined copper formed when cold water is thrown onto the molten metal.
    2. a rounded microconstituent of certain alloys.
  7. Plant Pathology. any of several diseases of plants, characterized by the crowding of the foliage into circular clusters owing to a shortening of the internodes of stems or branches, caused by fungi, viruses, or nutritional deficiencies.
  8. one of the compound spots on a leopard.
"a rose-shaped ornament," especially a bunch or knot of ribbons worn as a decoration, 1790, from Fr. rosette, from O.Fr. rosette, dim. of rose "rose."

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rosette)


"In great numbers, the Oktoberfesters were streaming past, the women in cinched dirndls and wenchy blouses, the men in suède or leather breeches laced just below the knee, tight jackets studded with medals or badges, and jaunty little hats with feathers, rosettes, cockades."

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)

Word of the day: inanition

The word of the day is inanition:
  1. exhaustion from lack of nourishment; starvation.
  2. lack of vigor; lethargy.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/inanition)


"On the pavement, Bernhardt erected his tripod and his tilted umbrella, and I prepared myself to enter the usual trance of inanition—forgetting that in this part of Eurasia, at least for now, there was no longer any small talk."

 - Martin Amis, "Oktober", 7 December 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/07/oktober)