Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Word of the day: blesbok

The word of the day is blesbok:
  1. a large antelope, Damaliscus albifrons, of southern Africa, having a blaze on the face.

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


"The high veldt rolled away, in shades of coffee and wheat.  We passed blesbok, oryx, wildebeest."

 - Paige Williams, "Digging for glory", 27 June 2016 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/06/27/lee-berger-digs-for-bones-and-glory)

Word of the day: calcrete

The word of the day is calcrete:

calcretealso called Hardpancalcium-rich duricrust, a hardened layer in or on a soil. It is formed on calcareous materials as a result of climatic fluctuations in arid and semiarid regions. Calcite is dissolved in groundwater and, under drying conditions, is precipitated as the water evaporates at the surface. Rainwater saturated with carbon dioxide acts as an acid and also dissolves calcite and then redeposits it as a precipitate on the surfaces of the soil particles; as the interstitial soil spaces are filled, an impermeable crust is formed.

(http://www.britannica.com/science/calcrete)


"The bones may be more than ten thousand years old, the scientists decide; a prominent brow ridge on one skull compounds the sense that the creature had an 'almost freakish' appearance.

"The brow bone, however, turns out to be a calcrete deposit often found in caves."

 - Paige Williams, "Digging for glory", 27 June 2016 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/06/27/lee-berger-digs-for-bones-and-glory)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Word of the day: styptic

The word of the day is styptic:
  1. serving to contract organic tissue; astringent; binding.
  2. serving to check hemorrhage or bleeding, as a drug; hemostatic.

c.1400, from O.Fr. stiptique, from L. stypticus "astringent," from Gk. styptikos, from styphein "to constrict, draw together." Spelling influenced by L. and Gk. words.

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


"The main medicinal use of alum was, as it still is today, as an astringent to improve wound healing. The modern styptic used to close up razor nicks occurring after wet shaving is alum-based."

 - David Rickard, "The Many Faces of Fool's Gold", May-June 2016 American Scientist (http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/feature/2016/3/the-many-faces-of-fools-gold/1)

Word of the day: alum

The word of the day is alum:
  1. Also called potash alumpotassium alum. crystalline solid, aluminum potassium sulfate, SO ⋅Al (SO )⋅24H O, used in medicine as an astringent and styptic, in dyeing and tanning, and in many technical processes.
  2. one of class of double sulfates analogous to the potassium alumas aluminum ammonium sulfate, having the general formula SO ⋅X (SO 4⋅24H O, where is univalent alkali metal or ammonium, and one of number of trivalent metals.
  3. (not in technical use) aluminum sulfate.
early 14c., "whitish mineral salt used as an astringent, dye, etc.," from O.Fr. alum, from L. alumen "alum," lit. "bitter salt," cognate with Gk. aludoimos "bitter" and Eng. ale.

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


"The production of one mordant, pure alum, from pyrite has been described as the point of origin of the modern chemical industry, because the process required not only the manufacture of a chemical substance but also its purification."

 - David Rickard, "The Many Faces of Fool's Gold", May-June 2016 American Scientist (http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/feature/2016/3/the-many-faces-of-fools-gold/1)

Word of the day: mordant

The word of the day is mordant:
  1. a substance used in dyeing to fix the coloring matter, especially a metallic compound, as an oxide or hydroxide, that combines with the organic dye and forms an insoluble colored compound or lake in the fiber.
late 15c., "caustic" (of words, speech), from M.Fr. mordant, lit. "biting," prp. of mordre "to bite," from L. mordere "to bite or sting" (see smart (v.)). Related: Mordantly. The noun sense in dyeing is first recorded 1791; the adj. in this sense is from 1902.

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


"Sulfuric acid is a relatively recent manufactured chemical.  Prior to this, the important analogous chemical substances were the sulfate salts of iron, copper, and aluminum, known to the ancients as the vitriols...  They were used as mordants in the dyeing industry. In order for natural dyes to be fixed in the cloth—and not be washed out during the next rainy day—it is necessary to treat the cloth with a mordant. The mordants widely used in dyeing were solutions of the vitriols."

 - David Rickard, "The Many Faces of Fool's Gold", May-June 2016 American Scientist (http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/feature/2016/3/the-many-faces-of-fools-gold/1)

Word of the day: invidious

The word of the day is invidious:
  1. calculated to create ill will or resentment or give offense; hateful
  2. offensively or unfairly discriminating; injurious
  3. causing or tending to cause animosity, resentment, or envy
  4. Obsoleteenvious.
c.1600, from L. invidiosus "envious," from invidia "ill will" (see envy).

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


"When the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices requires that the yellow change interval be determined by application of 'engineering practices,' such practices necessarily include using engineering judgment, which may not be quantifiable but is certainly not invidious."

 - Henry Petroski, "Traffic Signals, Dilemma Zones, and Red-Light Cameras", May-June 2016 American Scientist (http://www.americanscientist.org/my_amsci/restricted.aspx?act=pdf&id=61634462538130)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Word of the day: tholin

The word of the day is tholin:

an abiotic complex organic solid that formed by chemistry from energy input into simple, cosmically relevant gases or solids. Shorter still, “abiotic complex organic gunk” works for me.

‘tholins’ (Gk ϴὸλος, muddy; but also ϴoλòς, vault or dome), although we were tempted by the phrase ‘star-tar’.

(http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/2015/0722-what-in-the-worlds-are-tholins.html)


"Spectral analysis indicated water-ice highlands, coated with red tholins, organics formed by the solar irradiation of molecules such as methane or ethane."

 - "Year One of our New View of Pluto", May-June 2016 The American Scientist (http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/2016/3/year-one-of-our-new-view-of-pluto)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Word of the day: dormer

The word of the day is dormer:
  1. Also called dormer window. a vertical window in a projection built out from a sloping roof.
  2. the entire projecting structure.
1592, originally "window of a sleeping room," from M.Fr. dormeor "sleeping room," from dormir "to sleep," from L. dormire (see dormant).

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


"It was a red-brick Georgian Colonial, boxy but handsome in a quiet kind of way, two and a half stories high with dormered windows and a chimney on each end."

 - Octavia Butler, Kindred

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Word of the day: chador

The word of the day is chador:
  1. the traditional garment of Muslim and Hindu women, consisting of a long, usually black or drab-colored cloth or veil that envelops the body from head to foot and covers all or part of the face.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chador)


"We can't talk about feminism without recognizing that many of our notions about women when we were in college were ignorant and naïve...  If we gave a thought to chadors, burkas, and all they represent, I would be amazed."

 - Jane Smiley, "Feminism Meets the Free Market", Mommy Wars:
Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families, ed. Leslie Morgan Steiner

Friday, June 10, 2016

Word of the day: kvell

The word of the day is kvell:
  1. to be extraordinarily pleased; especially, to be bursting with pride, as over one's family.

"We tell ourselves that little Ethan or Olivia will be traumatized if we miss their first steps, but it's really the adults who feel cheated of the opportunity to fuss and kvell."

 - Sara Nelson, "Working Mother, Not Guilty", Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off On their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families, ed. Leslie Morgan Steiner

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Word of the day: samite

The word of the day is samite:
  1. a heavy silk fabric, sometimes interwoven with gold, worn in the Middle Ages.
"rich silk cloth," c.1300, from O.Fr. samit, from M.L. samitum, examitum, from Medieval Gk. hexamiton (source of O.C.S. oksamitu, Rus. aksamit "velvet"), prop. neut. of Gk. adj. hexamitos "six-threaded," from hex "six" + mitos "warp thread" (see mitre). The reason it was called this is variously explained. Obsolete c.1600; revived by Tennyson. Ger. Sammet "velvet" is from French.

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


"The bishop's envoy wore a black velvet chasuble over his dazzlingly white vestments, and the monk was resplendent in yards of samite and gilt embroidery."

 - Connie Willis, Doomsday Book

Word of the day: chasuble

The word of the day is chasuble:
  1. a sleeveless outer vestment worn by the celebrant at Mass.
c.1300, cheisible, from O.Fr. chesible (Mod.Fr. chasuble), from M.L. cassubula, from L.L. *casipula, from L. casula, dim. of casa "cottage, house" (see casino), used by c.400 in transf. sense of "outer garment."

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


"The bishop's envoy wore a black velvet chasuble over his dazzlingly white vestments, and the monk was resplendent in yards of samite and gilt embroidery."

 - Connie Willis, Doomsday Book

Word of the day: wadmal

The word of the day is wadmal:
  1. a bulky woolen fabric woven of coarse yarn and heavily napped, formerly much used in England and Scandinavia for the manufacture of durable winter garments.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wadmal)


"They unloaded two large chests while Kivrin and the girls watched, several wadmal bags, and an enormous wine cask."

 - Connie Willis, Doomsday Book

Word of the day: cresset

The word of the day is cresset:
  1. a metal cup or basket often mounted on a pole or suspended from above, containing oil, pitch, a rope steeped in rosin, etc., burned as a light or beacon.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cressets)


"The church was cold, in spite of all the lights.  They were mostly cressets, set along the walls and in front of the Holly-banked statue of St. Catherine, though there was a tall, thin, yellowish candle set in the greenery of each of the windows, but the effect was probably not what Father Roche had intended."

 - Connie Willis, Doomsday Book