Word Of The Day

contumacious

adjective

stubbornly perverse or rebellious; willfully and obstinately disobedient.

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Contumacious “stubbornly perverse or rebellious” is derived from the noun contumacy “obstinate resistance to authority,” ultimately from the Latin adjective contumāx “unyielding, stubborn.” The -tum- element in contumāx is of uncertain origin, but there are two hypotheses. The definition-based theory connects -tum- to the verb temnere “to despise,” which is also the source of the stem tempt-, as in contempt, while the spelling-based theory connects -tum- to the verb tumēre “to swell,” the source of tumescent and tumorContumacious was first recorded in English in the 1590s.

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Word of the Week

UESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2022

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skookum

skoo-kuhm ] 

adjective

large; powerful; impressive.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF SKOOKUM?

Skookum “large, powerful, impressive” derives from Chinook Jargon, a pidgin spoken primarily during the 1800s in the Pacific Northwest that still has hundreds of speakers today. A pidgin is a simplified language variety that fuses elements from multiple languages, and Chinook Jargon is primarily based on four sources: English, French, Lower Chinook (a Chinookan language once spoken along the Columbia River), and Nootka (a Wakashan language still spoken along the western coast of Vancouver Island). However, skookum entered Chinook Jargon instead of Lower Chehalis, a Salishan language once spoken in the southwestern coastal area of the Olympic Peninsula; skookum derives from Lower Chehalis skwəkwə́m “ghost, spirit, monster.” Skookum was first recorded in English circa 1830.

HOW IS SKOOKUM USED?

[Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato] is perhaps now most widely associated with Baroque and bel canto opera—her skookum approach to the aria “Tanti affetti” from Rossini’s “La Donna del Lago,” with its dizzying runs and leaps up and down the staff, has made her rendition a cult favorite—but she is no less at ease with the gentle lines of the American songbook. JOEL ROZEN, “OPERA’S MISS CONGENIALITY TAKES ON A RARE ‘CINDERELLA,’” THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 6, 2018

At the head of the anti-statehood efforts was the lobbyist for the Alaska Packers Association, W.C. Arnold. “The fishing and cannery industries employed W.C. Arnold, a man so powerful that he was called ‘Judge Arnold,’” Alaskan historian Claus Kaske told the San Francisco Chronicle in September of 2008. “Arnold was a skookum lobbyist, and he told Congress that business was paying the cost of running the territory.”DAVE KIFFER, “KETCHIKAN SUPPORTED ALASKA STATEHOOD, EVENTUALLY CHRONICLE, DAILY NEWS FOUGHT THE BATTLE LOCALLY,” SITNEWS, JANUARY 03, 2009

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Word of the Week

diasporic

[ dahy-uhspawr-ik, ‐spor-ik ] 

adjective

of, being, or relating to any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, either involuntarily or by migration.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF DIASPORIC?

Diasporic “of or relating to any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland” is formed from the Ancient Greek noun diasporá “scattering, dispersion,” from the preposition diá “through, across” and the noun sporá “sowing, seed,” the latter from the verb speírein “to sow.” This verb comes from the Proto-Indo-European root sper- “to strew,” which is also the source of English spreadspritz, and sprout as well as Ancient Greek spérma “seed” (compare sperm) and sporás “strewn, scattered” (compare sporadic). Another possible cognate of diasporic is Latin spargere “to scatter,” the source of words such as aspersiondisperse, and sparseDiasporic was first recorded in English in the early 1800s.

HOW IS DIASPORIC USED?

During the early days of Cahokia, around 1050, emissaries from the city traveled north to sites in what is now Wisconsin, spurring the local creation of platform mounds and sculpted landscapes similar to those in the Cahokian heartland .… In each place where Cahokians remade themselves, they contended with local communities, as well as their individual memories of their homeland. Cahokian migrants made houses that mimicked those at home; they built according to celestial alignments from home; and in diasporic settings, they made iconographic designs honoring mythic heroes from their homeland.JAYUR MEHTA, “CAHOKIAN CULTURE SPREAD ACROSS EASTERN NORTH AMERICA 1,000 YEARS AGO IN AN EARLY EXAMPLE OF DIASPORA,” CONVERSATION, OCTOBER 30, 2020

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Word Of The Week

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2021

nyctophobia

[ nik-tuhfoh-bee-uh ] 

noun

an irrational or disproportionate fear of night or nighttime darkness.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF NYCTOPHOBIA?

Nyctophobia “fear of night or nighttime darkness” is a compound of the combining forms nycto- “night” and -phobia “fear.” Nycto- derives from Ancient Greek nýx, of the same meaning, and comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root, nekwt-, found in English night, German nacht, and the Latin-derived terms equinox and nocturnal. In Greek mythology, Nyx was the primordial goddess and personification of nighttime who mated with Erebus, the god of darkness, to create Aether, the god of the upper air, and Hemera, the goddess of daytime. The ending -phobia is commonly used to indicate fear, and the opposite is -philia; while nyctophobia is fear of darkness, nyctophilia is love of darkness. The ending –phobia derives from Ancient Greek phóbos “fear” (but originally “flight”), which is related to Latin fugere “to flee,” as in fugitive Nyctophobia was first recorded in English in the early 1890s.

HOW IS NYCTOPHOBIA USED?

[F]rightening words and concepts repeated over a period of time during childhood will have long-lasting neurological and emotional consequences. Nyctophobia, a pathological fear of night and darkness, might be an extreme example of such a consequence. Yet even the most protected children sometimes believe that there’s a monster under the bed at night or a ghost outside the window in the darkness. Nor do adults stop being afraid of venturing into Central Park at night, even when they’re presented with rational and incontrovertible facts about its relative safety after dark.MARIE WINN, CENTRAL PARK IN THE DARK, 2008

“But wasn’t it dark inside the trunk?” Nora asked. “If Ashley had nyctophobia she wouldn’t have climbed in there” …. He shook his head. “I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t recognize the Ashley I knew in any of this, this witch we’ve been tracking. Curses on the floor? Nyctophobia? Ashley wasn’t afraid of the dark. She wasn’t afraid of anything.”MARISHA PESSL, NIGHT FILM, 2014

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Word of the Week

chaebol

je-buhl ] 

noun

a South Korean conglomerate, usually owned by a single family, based on authoritarian management and centralized decision-making.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF CHAEBOL?

Chaebol “a South Korean conglomerate” is a direct borrowing from Korean and is composed of chae “wealth, property” and pŏl “clique, faction.” However, while chaebol is a Korean term, its origins lie across the Sea of Japan; chaebol reflects the Korean pronunciation of the kanji characters that are used in Japanese to spell the word zaibatsu “a large industrial or financial conglomerate of Japan,” making chaebol the Korean loan translation of zaibatsu. Both chaebol and zaibatsu originated as borrowings from Middle Chinese dzoi “wealth” and bjot “powerful family” (compare Mandarin Chinese cái and ). Chinese is a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family, and though neither Japanese nor Korean belongs to this family, earlier versions of the Chinese language were once heavily influential on the non-Sinitic languages of East Asia. Chaebol was first recorded in English in the 1970s.

HOW IS CHAEBOL USED?

South Korea’s family-run conglomerates are facing calls for a shakeup in their governance .… The conglomerates known as chaebol have come under the reform buzz saw before, only to emerge bigger and stronger than ever. The country’s four biggest chaebol groups account for around half the stock market’s value, according to the Korea Stock Exchange.HYUNJOO JIN, SE YOUNG LEE, AND NICHOLA SAMINATHER, “CHAEBOL REFORM AT FOREFRONT OF SOUTH KOREA PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN—AGAIN,” REUTERS, MARCH 27, 2017

Officials worry that as firms such as Naver, which began life as a search engine, and Kakao have expanded into anything from ride-hailing to personal finance, they have picked up the bad habits of the chaebol. These sprawling conglomerates were instrumental in making South Korea rich and continue to dominate its economy. But they are notorious for murky governance structures, oligopolistic business practices and close ties with the political elite.“SOUTH KOREA’S GOVERNMENT SEES TECH FIRMS AS THE NEW CHAEBOL,” ECONOMIST, SEPTEMBER 18, 2021

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Word of the Week

MONDAY, OCTOBER 04, 2021

Weltanschauung

velt-ahn-shou-oong ] 

noun

a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF WELTANSCHAUUNG?

Weltanschauung “a comprehensive conception or image of the universe” is a direct borrowing from German, in which the term is a compound of Welt “world” and Anschauung “perception.” Welt is a cognate of the English word world, and both come from a Germanic term, reconstructed as wer-ald-, that likely meant “age of man.” The first half of wer-ald- can be found today in werewolf, literally “wolf man,” and derives from the same Proto-Indo-European root as Latin vir “man,” the source of virile “manly” and triumvirate “a group of three men.” The second half of wer-ald- is related to old and elder and is distantly related to the first element of the recent Word of the Day alma materWeltanschauung was first recorded in English in the 1860s.

HOW IS WELTANSCHAUUNG USED?

Holmes handles the tension successfully not only by applying his scientific principles to a case but also by seeing the case through the perspective of his Weltanschauung. He takes the crime, the criminal, the victim, the motive, the circumstances, and the other characters involved who gain or suffer from the crime, and he puts them all into the cauldron of his world-view. The product of that mixture emerges as his unique brand of justice.DIANE GILBERT MADSEN, CRACKING THE CODE OF THE CANON: HOW SHERLOCK HOLMES MADE HIS DECISIONS, 2016

The first immigrant organizations in my town—even before there was a church—were all Azorean Holy Ghost fraternal societies. That they still thrive is one of the things pointing to the century long love affair that Falmouth has had with the Azores and helps craft the Weltanschauung of the immigrants, their children, and even non-Portuguese in my town. It is a love affair that may not be symmetrical, but it is one that burns brightly from the side of those of us in Falmouth.DR. MIGUEL MONIZ, “DRAWING LINES AROUND MY BAIRRO. THE AZORES UNBOUND,” HERALD NEWS, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

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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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