Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Word of the day: enfilade

The word of the day is enfilade:

  1. Military.
    1. a position of works, troops, etc., making them subject to a sweeping fire from along the length of a line of troops, a trench, a battery, etc.
    2. the fire thus directed.
  2. Architecture.
    1. an axial arrangement of doorways connecting a suite of rooms with a vista down the whole length of the suite.
    2. an axial arrangement of mirrors on opposite sides of a room so as to give an effect of an infinitely long vista.
1706, from F. enfilade, from O.Fr. enfiler "to thread (a needle) on a string, pierce from end to end," from en- "put on" + fil "thread." Used of rows of apartments and lines of trees before modern military sense came to predominate.


Like that train we took to Ostia Antica.

"Instead, Sevigny has gone for a purer form of fun: an enfilade of domed caverns where dancers away to rock and disco hits flanked by tiled nooks from which clusters of beautiful folk watch the whorling crowd."

 - Nicolas Niarchos, "Bar Tab", 16 January 2017 The New Yorker (

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

word of the day: imbrue

The word of the day is imbrue:

1. to stain
2. to impregnate or imbue (usually followed by with or in)
1400-50; late Middle English enbrewen < Middle French embreuver to cause to drink in, soak, drench < Vulgar Latin *imbiberāre, derivative of Latin imbibere to imbibe


"At other times, I thought, What if the young man who was with so much difficulty restrained from imbruing his hands in me should yield to a constitutional impatience, or should mistake the time, and should think himself accredited to my heart and liver to-night, instead of to-morrow!"

 - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Monday, January 16, 2017

Word of the day: chandler

The word of the day is chandler:

  1. a person who makes or sells candles and sometimes other items of tallow or wax, as soap.
  2. a dealer or trader in supplies, provisions, etc., of a specialized type
  3. a retailer of provisions, groceries, etc.
early 14c. "candle-holder;" late 14c. "maker or seller of candles," from O.Fr. chandelier, from L. candelarius, from candela "candle" (see candle).


"Mr. Wopsle, the clerk at church, was to dine with us; and Mr. Hubble the wheelwright and Mrs. Hubble; and Uncle Pumblechook (Joe's uncle, but Mrs. Joe appropriated him), who was a well-to-do cornchandler in the nearest town, and drove his own chaise-cart."

 - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

word of the day: squally

The word of the day is squally:

1. characterized by squalls.
2. stormy; threatening.

"After that, he sat feeling his right-side flaxen curls and whisker, and following Mrs. Joe about with his blue eyes, as his manner always was at squally times."

 - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Sunday, January 15, 2017

word of the day: jack-towel

The word of the day is jack-towel:

a long towel with the ends sewed together, for hanging on a roller.

"She's a coming!  Get behind the door, old chap, and have the jack-towel betwixt you."

 - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Saturday, January 14, 2017

word of the day: pollard

The word of the day is pollard:

1. a tree cut back nearly to the trunk, so as to produce a dense mass of branches.
2. an animal, as a stag, ox, or sheep, having no horns. 

"I pointed to where our village lay, on the flat in-shore among the alder-trees and pollards, a mile or more from the church."

 - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Monday, January 09, 2017

Word of the day: curvet

The word of the day is curvet:


  1. Dressage. a leap of a horse from a rearing position, in which it springs up with the hind legs outstretched as the forelegs descend.

verb (used without object), cur·vet·tedor cur·vet·ed, cur·vet·ting or cur·vet·ing.

  1. to leap in a curvet, as a horse; cause one's horse to do this.
  2. to leap and frisk.

"Instead, they rampage into dance, climbing onto the hoods and the roofs of their vehicles, making holiday in the heat, and chanting, 'Another Day of Sun.'  The camera swings and curvets in accord, then rises to survey the scene: half a mile of merriment where none should be."

 - Anthony Lane, "Dancing with the Stars:  'La La Land'", 12 December 2016 The New Yorker (

Word of the day: twee

The word of the day is twee:

  1. affectedly dainty or quaint
905, from childish pronunciation of sweet.


"Whenever the show threatened to get twee, it veered toward spooky grandeur: an assault on Akhnaten's temple is headed by a Grand Guignol general wearing a top hat capped by a skull."

 - Alex Ross, "Pyramids and Wikileaks: Modern opera thrives in Los Angeles", 12 December 2016 The New Yorker (

Word of the day: hieratic

The word of the day is hieratic:

  1. Also, hi·er·at·i·cal. of or pertaining to priests or the priesthood; sacerdotal; priestly.
  2. noting or pertaining to a form of ancient Egyptian writing consisting of abridged forms of hieroglyphics, used by the priests in their records.
  3. noting or pertaining to certain styles in art in which the representations or methods are fixed by or as if by religious tradition.
  4. highly restrained or severe in emotional import
1656 (implied in hieratical), from Gk.hieratikos, from hierateia "priesthood,"from hierasthai "be priest," fromhiereus "priest," from hieros "sacred."


"At the same time, its static, hieratic text, derived largely from ancient Egyptian and Akkadian sources, lies far outside the operatic norm, and makes most American librettos of recent decades look bland"

 - Alex Ross, "Pyramids and Wikileaks: Modern opera thrives in Los Angeles", 12 December 2016 The New Yorker (

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Word of the day: subvention

The word of the day is subvention:
  1. a grant of money, as by a government or some other authority, in aid or support of some institution or undertaking, especially in connection with science or the arts.
  2. the furnishing of aid or relief.
c.1400, from M.Fr. subvention, from L.L. subventionem (nom. subventio) "assistance," from pp. stem of L. subvenire "come to one's aid," from sub "up to" + venire "to come" (see venue).


"He was rescued by Miller's friend Anaïs Nin, who, after shopping the manuscript around and finding no one else who was willing to print it, offered to subvent publication."

 - Louis Menand, "People of the Book: Two faces of American publishing", 12 December 2016 The New Yorker (