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Word of the day

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spruik (verb) – (archaic slang Australia) To speak in public (used esp of a showman or salesman).

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : 1916, Australia and New Zealand slang, of unknown origin.

Word of the Day

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schlemazel also schlimazel (noun) – An extremely unlucky or inept person; a habitual failure.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : “Born loser,” 1948, from Yiddish shlim mazel “rotten luck,” from Middle High German slim “crooked” + Hebrew mazzal “luck.” British slang shemozzle “an unhappy plight” (1889) is probably from the same source.

A shlemiel is the fellow who climbs to the top of a ladder with a bucket of paint and then drops it. A shimazl is the fellow on whose head the bucket falls. [Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D.-N.Y.), 1986]

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schemozzle or shemozzle or shimozzle (noun) – (informa A noisy confusion or dispute; uproar.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : UK late-19th century.  Yiddish, suggested by late Hebrew šel-l?’-mazz?l ‘of no luck’.

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inkhorn (noun) – A small container made of horn or a similar material, formerly used to hold ink for writing.
(adj) – Affectedly or ostentatiously learned; pedantic.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Picture an ancient scribe, pen in hand, a small ink bottle made from an animal’s horn strapped to his belt, ready to record the great events of history. In 14th-century England, such ink bottles were dubbed (not surprisingly) inkhorns. During the Renaissance, learned writers often borrowed words from Latin and Greek, eschewing vulgar English alternatives. But in the 16th century, some scholars argued for the use of native terms over Latinate forms, and a lively intellectual debate over the merits of each began. Those who favored English branded what they considered ostentatious Latinisms “inkhorn terms” after the bottles carried by scholars, and since then we have used inkhorn as an adjective for Latinate or pretentious language.

Word of the Day

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girandole (noun) – 1. A composition or structure in radiating form or arrangement, such as a rotating display of fireworks.
2. An ornamental branched candleholder, sometimes backed by a mirror.
3. An earring that consists of a central piece with three smaller ornaments or stones hanging from it.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : The earliest uses of girandole in English, in the 17th century, referred to a kind of firework or to something, such as a fountain, with a radiating pattern like that of a firework. Such a pattern is reflected in the word’s etymology: girandole can be traced back by way of French and Italian to the Latin word gyrus, meaning “gyre” or “a circular or spiral motion or form.” By the 18th century, girandole was being used for a branched candlestick, perhaps due to its resemblance to the firework. The word’s use for a kind of earring was lit during the 19th century.

Word of the Day

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burgeon (verb) – 1. (a) To put forth new buds, leaves, or greenery; sprout.
(b) To begin to grow or blossom.
2. To grow or develop rapidly; expand or proliferate.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Burgeon first appeared in Middle English as burjonen—a borrowing from the Anglo-French burjuner, meaning “to bud or sprout.” Burgeon is often used figuratively, as when writer P. G. Wodehouse used it in the 1946 novel Joy in the Morning: “I weighed this. It sounded promising. Hope began to burgeon.”

Usage commentators have objected to the use of burgeon to mean “to flourish” or “to grow rapidly,” insisting that any figurative use should stay true to the word’s earliest literal meaning and distinguish budding or sprouting from subsequent growing. But the sense of burgeon that indicates growing or expanding and prospering (as in “the burgeoning music scene” or “the burgeoning international market”) has been in established use for decades and is, in fact, the most common use of burgeon today.

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volition (noun) – 1. The act of making a conscious choice or decision.
2. The power or faculty of choosing; the will.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Volition ultimately derives from the Latin verb velle, meaning “to will” or “to wish.” (The adjective voluntary descends from the same source.) English speakers borrowed the term from French in the 17th century, using it at first to mean “an act of choosing,” a meaning Herman Melville employed in Moby Dick (1851): “Almost simultaneously, with a mighty volition of ungraduated, instantaneous swiftness, the White Whale darted through the weltering sea.” Melville’s use comes about a century after the word had developed an additional meaning: “the power to choose.” This meaning, now the word’s dominant use, is found in such sentences as “Members must join of their own volition.”

Word of the Day

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vocation (noun) – 1. A regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified.
2. (a) An inclination or aptness for a certain kind of work.
(b) Theology A calling of an individual by God, especially for a religious career.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Vocation has been making its voice heard in English since the 15th century, when it referred to a summons from God to perform a particular task or function in life, especially a religious career. It should come as no surprise, then, that the word is a descendant of Latin vocatio, meaning “summons.” Vocatio, in turn, comes from vocare, meaning “to call,” which itself is from vox, meaning “voice.” Vocation also has a secular position in the English language as a word for the strong desire to do a certain kind of work or the work itself, much like the words calling or occupation.

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tonsorial (adj) – Of or relating to barbering or a barber.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Tonsorial is a fancy word that describes the work of those who give shaves and haircuts. (It can apply more broadly to hairdressers as well.) It derives from the Latin verb tond?re, meaning “to shear, clip, or crop.” (Another descendant, tonsor, is an archaic word for a barber.)

You might be more familiar with the related noun tonsure, which refers to the shaven crown or patch worn by monks and other clerics, or the religious rite of clipping the hair of one being admitted as a cleric. The verb tonsure means “to shave the head of” or “to confer the tonsure upon.”

Word of the Day

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supersede (also supercede) (verb) – 1. To take the place of; replace or supplant.
2. To take the place of (a person), as in an office or position; succeed.

Grammarist reports on the alternate spelling – Supersede comes from French, and then Latin before that. In both languages it is spelled with an s. However, the misspelling supercede has been recorded for multiple centuries. Because of the pervasive use of this error, supercede is listed in most dictionaries. These entries simply refer the user to the correct spelling. It is interesting to note that the error has never been adopted as an accepted alternative, which is the case with some other widespread errors.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Supersede ultimately derives from the Latin verb supersed?re, meaning “to sit on top of” (sed?re means “to sit”), “to be superior to,” or “to refrain from,” but it came to us through Scots Middle English, where it was rendered superceden and used in the sense of “to defer.”

It will come as no surprise that modern English speakers can be confused about how to spell this word—it sometimes turns up as supercede. In fact, some of the earliest records of the word in English show it spelled with a c. The s spelling has been the dominant choice since the 16th century, and while both spellings can be etymologically justified, supersede is now regarded as the “correct” version.

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