Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:55 pm

tubeman wrote:I learned a new one yesterday from NPR, pseudocide: the act of faking one's death. (Often to escape money owed to people, insurance scams, etc.)
I'd be more apt to commit pesudocide than suicide. :wink:
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:13 pm

nefarious

Adjective | nih-FAIR-ee-us

Definition: flagrantly wicked or impious : evil

Did You Know?

Vicious and villainous are two wicked synonyms of nefarious, and, like nefarious, both mean "highly reprehensible or offensive in character, nature, or conduct." But these synonyms are not used in exactly the same way in all situations. Vicious may imply moral depravity or it may connote malignancy, cruelty, or destructive violence. Villainous applies to any evil, depraved, or vile conduct or characteristic, while nefarious (which derives from the Latin noun nefas, meaning "crime") suggests flagrant breaching of time-honored laws and traditions of conduct.

Examples of NEFARIOUS

"The company will not call you to ask for your Social Security or account number, but nefarious scammers might."
— Ellen Marks, The Albuquerque Journal, 31 July 2016

"Mention the word 'drugs,' and most people think of nefarious, evil substances bought in the dead of night from shadowy figures who carry guns and feed off of the weaknesses of addicts who seek out their poison with shaking, trembling hands."
— Steve Wildsmith, The Daily Times (Maryville, Tennessee), 25 July 2016

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by gitgeezer » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:33 pm

Etymologies of some common and not-so-common words from Bill Bryson’s At Home (a history of homes and home life).

familiar
hall
dais
husband
husbandry
solar (room)
room
thrall
enthralled
ground floor
board
room and board
boarders
aboveboard
banquet
chair
chairman of the board
bed
make a bed
bedstead

Every member of the household, including servants, retainers, dowager widows, and anyone else with a continuing attachment, was considered family—they were literally familiar, to use the word in its original sense. In the most commanding (and usually least drafty) position in the hall [at a time when the ‘hall’ was nearly the whole house] was a raised platform called a dais, where the owner and his family ate—a practice recalled by the high tables still found in colleges and boarding schools that have (or sometimes simply wish to project) a sense of long tradition. The head of the household was the husband—a compound term meaning literally ‘householder’ or ‘house owner.’ His role as manager and provider was so central that the practice of land management became known as husbandry. Only much later did husband come to signify a marriage partner.
. . .
Sometimes these private rooms were built on two stories, with the upper—called a solar—reached by a ladder or very basic stairway. Solar sounds sunny and light, but in fact the name was merely an adaptation of solive, the French word for floor joist or beam. Solars were simply rooms perched on joists, and for a long time they were the only upstairs room that most houses afforded. So little did people think of rooms in the modern sense that the word room, with the meaning of an enclosed chamber or distinct space, isn’t recorded in English until the time of the Tudors.
. . .
The Old English word for slave was thrall, which is why when we are enslaved by an emotion we are enthralled.
. . .
Bare earth floors remained the norm in much of rural Britain and Ireland until the twentieth century. “The ‘ground floor’ was justly named,” as the historian James Ayres has put it.
. . .
Dining tables were simply boards laid across trestles…. In humbler dwellings, matters were generally about as simple as they could be. The dining table was a plain board called by that name. It was hung on the wall when not in use, and was perched on the diners’ knees when food was served. Over time, the word board came to signify not just the dining surface but the meal itself, which is where the board comes from in room and board. It also explains why lodgers are called boarders and why an honest person—someone who keeps his hands visible at all time—is said to be aboveboard.

Seating was on plain benches—in French, bancs, from which comes banquet. Until the 1600s. chairs were rare—the word chair itself dates only from about 1300—and were designed not to be comfortable but to impute authority [only the head of the household sat in a chair—everyone else sat on benches]. Even now, of course, the person in charge of a meeting chairs it, and a person in charge of a company is the chairman of the board—a term that additionally, and a little oddly, recalls the dining habits of medieval peasants.
. . .
After an evening meal, the inhabitants of the medieval hall had no bedrooms in which to retire. We ‘make a bed’ today because in the Middle Ages that is essentially what you did—you rolled out a cloth sleeping pallet or heaped a pile of straw, found a cloak or blanket and fashioned whatever comfort you could….. Until well into the seventeenth century, bed meant only the mattress and what it was stuffed with; for the frame and its contents there was the separate word bedstead.

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:16 pm

Fascinating, gitgeezer. :merci:
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:24 pm

vamoose

Verb | vuh-MOOSS

Definition: to depart quickly

Did You Know?

In the 1820s and '30s, the American Southwest was rough-and-tumble territory—the true Wild West. English-speaking cowboys, Texas Rangers, and gold prospectors regularly rubbed elbows with Spanish-speaking vaqueros in the local saloons, and a certain amount of linguistic intermixing was inevitable. One Spanish term that caught on with English speakers was vamos, which means "let's go." Cowpokes and dudes alike adopted the word, at first using a range of spellings and pronunciations that varied considerably in their proximity to the original Spanish form. But when the dust settled, the version most American English speakers were using was vamoose.

Examples of VAMOOSE

With the sheriff and his posse hot on their tails, the bank robbers knew they had better vamoose.

"Five minutes later the police arrived, and of course there was no sign of illegal activity. The crooks monitored the police radio and knew when to vamoose."
— The Rockford (Illinois) Register Star, 14 July 2016

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by gitgeezer » Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:59 pm

“Vamoose” is a good example of a tendency for corrupted pronunciations and spellings to drift in the direction of familiar, and sometimes comical, sounds. The pronunciation and spelling in this example shifted from “vamos” to “vamoose” perhaps because vamoose had a “moose” in it. For the same reason, the word that was originally “ransackled” shifted to “ramshackled” perhaps because ramshackled had a “ram” and a “shack” in it.

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Andrew Fryer » Fri Sep 30, 2016 4:44 pm

Moose were familiar in Arizona and Texas, were they?
On the other hand, the Americans are quite keen on inventing unfamiliar words, like skedaddle.
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by gitgeezer » Fri Sep 30, 2016 9:00 pm

“Skedaddle” is not entirely our fault, as one etymology says it’s “probably an alteration of British dialect scaddle ‎(“to run off in a fright”), from the adjective scaddle ‎(“wild, timid, skittish”), from Middle English scathel, skadylle ‎(“harmful, fierce, wild”), of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse skaði ‎(“harm”). Possibly related to the Greek σκέδασις ‎(skédasis, “scattering”), σκεδασμός ‎(skedasmós, “dispersion”).”

So Greece, Scandanavia, England, and America must share the blame.

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sat Oct 01, 2016 9:54 am

By sheer coincidence I heard someone say skedaddle on Blackadder 3 last night!

Yeah, I only meant it as a joke. Onions thinks it's 19th century, first used by US military, but probably from an earlier English dialect word. He doesn't go further than that, and Chambers don't venture anything.

σκεδάννυμι is the transitive verb "to scatter", but that English dialects might be so directly linked to Greek seems unlikely to me. Wouldn't surprise me if this was linked somehow to the word schism too.
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:42 am

Andrew Fryer wrote:Moose were familiar in Arizona and Texas, were they?
On the other hand, the Americans are quite keen on inventing unfamiliar words, like skedaddle.
Inventing? You are being too kind. I think it's more of corrupting familiar words. :wink:
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:07 am

Vito Simplicio wrote:I think it's more of corrupting familiar words. :wink:
Yes, like "destroy".
E.g. A destroys B: -
B: "I think this"
A: "I disagree"
:lol:
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Tue Oct 18, 2016 3:15 pm

ab initio

Adverb | ab-ih-NISH-ee-oh

Definition: from the beginning

Did You Know?

We'll tell you right from the beginning where ab initio comes from. This adverb was adopted at the beginning of the 17th century directly from Latin, where it translates as "from the beginning." (Initio is a form of the noun initium, meaning "beginning," which gave rise to such English words as initial, initiate, and initiative.) Ab initio most frequently appears in legal contexts, but it is not surprising to find it used outside of the courtroom. The phrase is also used as an adjective meaning "starting from or based on first principles" (as in "predicted from ab initio calculations").

Example of AB INITIO

"Like many of contemporary architecture's most celebrated figures, [Zaha] Hadid is often presented as an artist who conceives her buildings entirely ab initio."
— Ellis Woodman, The Daily Telegraph (London), 3 Sept. 2012

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by gitgeezer » Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:00 am

airsickness, anteroom, bask, beefy, boulevard, café, cause célèbre, caricature, fairy tale, falsetto, frisson, impresario, malaria, mudbath, nuance, serendipity, somber, souvenir, comfortable

What do these words have in common? They, and over 200 others, were coined by novelist Horace Walpole (according to the Oxford English Dictionary). Not all of his creations stuck, however. Some of his losers were gloomth, greenth, fluctuable, and betweenity.

[from At Home, by Bill Bryson]

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:30 pm

titivate

verb | TIH-tuh-vayt

Definition: to make or become smart or spruce

Did You Know?

Titivate, spruce, smarten, and spiff all mean "to make a person or thing neater or more attractive." Titivate often refers to making small additions or alterations in attire ("titivate the costume with sequins and other accessories"), but it can also be used figuratively (as in "titivating the script for Broadway"). Spruce up is sometimes used for cosmetic changes or renovations that give the appearance of newness ("spruce up the house with new shutters and fresh paint before trying to sell it"). Smarten up and spiff up both mean to improve in appearance often by making more neat or stylish ("the tailor smartened up the suit with minor alterations"; "he needed some time to spiff himself up for the party"). The origins of titivate are uncertain, but it may have been formed from the English words tidy and renovate.

Examples of TITIVATE

"It was instantly clear, however, that she had not been idle, but busy titivating: painting her nails, washing her hair, doing her face…."
— Rosamunde Pilcher, September, 1990

"I came here as a student …, but I spent more time in Cannon Hill Park two miles from the city centre. I clearly remember watching the gardeners titivate the flower beds and strolling past the lake through the many choice trees."
— Val Bourne, The Daily Telegraph (London), 21 May 2016

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Nov 03, 2016 2:19 pm

gitgeezer wrote:airsickness
I think I'd like a fuller explanation of that one.
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