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

Pediculous

https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/pediculous-2020-09-02


Definition

: infested with lice : lousy

Did You Know?

Count on the English language’s Latin lexical options to pretty up the unpleasant. You can have an entire conversation about lice and avoid the l-word entirely using pediculous and its relatives. None of the words (from pediculus, meaning “louse”) is remotely common, but they’re all available to you should you feel the need for them. There’s pediculosis, meaning “infestation with lice,” pedicular, “of or relating to lice,” and pediculoid, “resembling or related to the common lice.” Pediculid names a particular kind of louse—one of the family Pediculidae. And if you’d like to put an end to all of this you might require a pediculicide—defined as “an agent for destroying lice.”

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Examples

All of the campers in the cabin had to be checked for lice when one boy’s sleeping bag was discovered to be pediculous.

“They say pediculous humors and fly borne air are culprits of plague, so the townsmen make a pyre of flowers and brush, attar and spikenard, by way of purging the air of offense.” — Fiona Maazel, Last Last Chance, 2008

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