Word of the Week

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

butte

[ byoot ] 

noun

an isolated hill or mountain rising abruptly above the surrounding land.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF BUTTE?

Butte “an isolated hill or mountain rising abruptly above the surrounding land” is a borrowing from French, in which it means “small hill, mound.” ​​In Old French, butte referred specifically to a mound or structure used for archery practice and also to the target itself, which is why modern French but means “aim, goal.” Despite its enduring place in the French language, butte was originally a borrowing from a Germanic source such as Frankish or Old Norse, in which the word meant something like “piece” or “end part.” Butte was first recorded in English in the mid-1600s.

HOW IS BUTTE USED?

Bears are a common thread among the Indigenous tribal stories about the origins of this iconic butte, and most Indigenous names for the tower reference bears. A Kiowa legend tells of seven girls who were attacked by bears. One of the girls prayed to the rock for help, and the rock began to grow, pushing the girls out of the bears’ reach. When the bears jumped to reach the girls, they fell to the ground, scratching the rock and creating the deep grooves you see in the butte.AMBER SHARE, SUBPAR PARKS: AMERICA’S MOST EXTRAORDINARY NATIONAL PARKS AND THEIR LEAST IMPRESSED VISITORS, 2021

You need a map to find Paris’s Butte aux Cailles, but that’s one of the best things about it….Incidentally, at an elevation of about 190 feet, it’s not much of a butte—just high enough up to feel better off than the rest of this rapidly changing part of Paris.DEBORAH BALDWIN, “OUI OUI, HON: BALTIMORE IN PARIS,” WASHINGTON POST, SUNDAY, JULY 13, 1997

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Word of the Week

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 02, 2021

lodestone

lohd-stohn ] 

noun

something that attracts strongly.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF LODESTONE?

Lodestone, “a variety of magnetite that possesses magnetic polarity” in its non-figurative sense, is a compound of lode and stone. While lode most often refers to a metal-bearing deposit or, in dialectal English, a waterway, its original meaning in Old English, as lád, was “way, course,” and from there, its definition expanded to indicate something to follow, such as a channel or a vein of ore. Lode is a variant spelling of load, which went in a different semantic direction, shifting from a travel route to the heavy objects to be carried along such a route, likely with influence from the unrelated yet similar-sounding verb lade “to put a load or burden on.”

HOW IS LODESTONE USED?

The Mergui archipelago has been called the “Lost World,” but outsiders have found it … The islands are thought to harbor some of the world’s most important marine biodiversity, and are a lodestone for those eager to experience one of Asia’s last tourism frontiers before, as many fear, it succumbs to the ravages that have befallen many once-pristine seascapes.DENIS GRAY, “MYANMAR’S MARINE ‘LOST WORLD’ BRACES FOR TOURISM,” AP NEWS, MARCH 21, 2014

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The last time fans saw Black Widow in action, in “Avengers: Endgame,” she was fighting her dear friend Hawkeye on planet Vormir to sacrifice her life for the Soul Stone… Chapek says that scene of poignant humanity was a narrative lodestone for “Black Widow.”MICHAEL CAVNA, “BLACK WIDOW FINALLY GETS HER OWN MOVIE, ONE THAT POSES THE QUESTION: WHO IS SHE, REALLY?” WASHINGTON POST, JULY 1, 2021

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Word of the Day

mishpocha

[ mish-pookhuh, –paw-khuh ] 

noun

an entire family network comprising relatives by blood and marriage and sometimes including close friends; clan.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF MISHPOCHA?

Yiddish mishpocha derives from the Hebrew mishpakhá “family,” as Hebrew is the source of a good portion of Yiddish vocabulary. Hebrew belongs to the Semitic family of languages and isn’t related to English, but we’ve nevertheless inherited numerous culture- and religion-related words from Hebrew, such as amencherubjubilee, and hallelujah. Like its Hebrew source, mishpocha means more than just “immediate family”—it’s the collection of all blood relatives and relatives by marriage.

HOW IS MISHPOCHA USED?

It’s only natural that they want to meet … their children are going to get married. They are going to be mishpocha for the rest of their lives, so they’re a touch curious about each other. JUDITH KRANTZ, PRINCESS DAISY, 1980

I’d done the Zoom dating, the bread baking, … and all the other socially acceptable coping mechanisms, but Rosh Hashanah was the first holiday I observed that I’d had to spend without the familiar mishpocha of friends and family all around me, yelling, telling jokes, squinting critically at my bangs, and generally filling the room with light. EMMA SPECTER, “MY JEWISH HOLIDAY PLANS THIS YEAR? NORA EPHRON MOVIES AND SMOKED FISH, FOR ONE,” VOGUE, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

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