Word Of The Week

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2022

abient

[ ab-ee-uhnt ]SHOW IPA 

adjective

tending to move away from a stimulus or situation.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF ABIENT?

Abient “tending to move away from a stimulus or situation” comes from the Latin term abiēns (stem abient-) “going away,” the present participle of the verb abīre “to go away, exit, depart.” Abīre is formed from the preposition ab “from, away” and the verb īre “to go,” which has two stems: -ient and -it. The verb īre also gives rise to ambīre “to go around,” inīre “to go into, begin,” and trānsīre “to go across, cross,” and to see evidence of all these Latin verbs in English today, compare ambient and ambitioninitial and initiate, and transient and transit. The -it stem also pops up in circuit (from Latin circumīre“to go round, circle”), exit (from exīre“to go out”), and even obituary (from obīre “to go toward,” often used euphemistically in the sense “to meet one’s death”). Abient was first recorded in English in the early 1930s.

HOW IS ABIENT USED? 

In the case of negative affect, the motivating experience can be best described, not as punishing, but as experience that tends to be psychologically noxious and difficult to tolerate. Such experience instigates abientbehavior—behavior that tends to produce avoidance and to reduce attention to and/or communion with the object of the affect when there is an object.

CHARLES D. SPIELBERGER, “AFFECT AND BEHAVIOR: ANXIETY AS A NEGATIVE AFFECT,” ANXIETY AND BEHAVIOR, 1966

To avoid writing, I engage in abientbehavior: walking the dog, cleaning the floor, ironing T-shirts, or reading junk mail.

NATALIE HARWOOD, THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO LEARNING LATIN, 2003

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Word Of The Week

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 09, 2022

eggcorn

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eg-kawrn ] SHOW IPA  

a word or phrase that is a seemingly logical alteration of another word or phrase that sounds similar and has been misheard or misinterpreted.

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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF EGGCORN?

Eggcorn “a seemingly logical alteration of a misheard word or phrase” is a coinage by linguistics professor Geoffrey K. Pullum based on the word acorn. The logic here is that people unfamiliar with the term acorn (from Old English æcern) may mistake the word as a compound of egg and corn because of acorns’ size and shape. An eggcorn is a type of folk etymology based on an honest mistake, as we saw in the etymology for the recent Word of the Day armscye, which is often incorrectly believed to come from “arm’s eye,” after the location and shape of an armscye. What makes something an eggcorn is that, unlike folk etymology proper, which results in a change to a word or phrase based on a nearly universal misconception, eggcorns tend to reflect common mistakes at the individual level—no matter how widespread these mistakes may be—that do not change the spelling of the mistaken word or phrase. Also important is that eggcorns are based on logical misunderstandings, so not every gross misspelling on the average social media feed qualifies as an eggcorn. While eggcorn is attested as early as the early 19th century, its present sense dates from 2003.

HOW IS EGGCORN USED?

Whether step foot in is, or originally was, an eggcorn has been hotly but inconclusively debated. However, no one argues that set foot in is anything other than standard English. So step foot in is one of those phrases that we’re probably better off not using even though there’s little reason to object if others use them.

BARBARA WALLRAFF, “WORD COURT,” THE ATLANTIC, SEPTEMBER 2006

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote …. “the Congress we’re about to get will be its [predecessor’s] spit and image: familiar faces, timeworn histrionics, unending paralysis.” Spit and image? …. Did Bruni just drop an eggcorn in America’s journal of record? …. As Language Log points out, he didn’t drop (lay?) an eggcorn at all. In fact, “spit and image” is the older version of the expression. Both may be alterations of an earlier form, “spitten image.”

DAVID SHARIATMADARI, “THAT EGGCORN MOMENT,” THE GUARDIAN, SEPTEMBER 16, 2014

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Diabetic Word Of The Week

Diabetes

 Usually refers to diabetes mellitus or, less often, to diabetes insipidusDiabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus share the name “diabetes” because they are both conditions characterized by excessive urination (polyuria).

The word “diabetes” is from the Greek word meaning “a siphon” because people with diabetes “passed water like a siphon.”

When “diabetes” is used alone, it refers to diabetes mellitus. The two main types of diabetes mellitus — insulin-requiring type 1 diabetes and adult-onset type 2 diabetes — are distinct and different diseases in themselves.

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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