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Sep. 28th, 2016 | 07:52 am

agrimony (AG-ruh-moh-nee) - n., any of a dozen-plus species (genus Agrimonia, esp. the perennial A. eupatoria) of the rose family with pinnately compound leaves, long spikes of small yellow flowers, and bristly burlike fruits.

Long used as a medicinal. In use since at least Middle English (including form egremoyne in the 14th century), from Old French aigremoine, from Latin agrimōnia (influenced by Old French aigre, sour), alteration of argemōnia, from Greek argemōnē, poppy, possibly from argos, white. Since it in no way looks like a poppy, I cannot explain that etymology.


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Sep. 27th, 2016 | 08:04 am

kakemono (kah-kuh-MOH-noh) - n., a Japanese hanging scroll with calligraphy or a painting.

Displayed vertically on the wall, or rolled up when not in use. This is the Japanese version of the Chinese lìzhóu. Adapted from Japanese, naturally, where it's also kakemono (掛物), compounded from the stem of kakeru, to hang + mono, thing -- so literally, hanging thing.


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Sep. 26th, 2016 | 08:25 am

hyaline (HAI-uh-lin) - adj., glassy, transparent.

Also, as a noun (HAI-uh-leen), anything glassy or transparent, including a couple specialty meanings (sometimes spelled hyalin) in anatomy, botany, and entomology. I usually see it applied to waves, though. Adopted around 1660 from Late Latin hyalinus, from Greek hyálinos, from hyálos, glass.


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Sep. 23rd, 2016 | 07:54 am

costrel (KOS-truhl, KAW-struhl) - n., a leather, earthenware, or wooden flask with two tabs, ears, or loops by which it can be suspended.

Usually carried on the belt or a cord. Also called a pilgrim bottle. Examples from Google images. The flask is usually flattened to make it jostle less. Used since the 14th century, from Middle French, from Old French costerel, diminutive of costier, something at the side, from Classical Latin costa, a rib.


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Sep. 22nd, 2016 | 08:38 am

1word1day: marlinspike

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Sep. 21st, 2016 | 07:40 am

eyot (ATE, AIT) or ait (AIT) - n., an island in a river or lake.

Rare, and in the UK rarely used outside of the names of islands in the Thames -- not clear if it's used outside the UK at all, except by Icelandophiles and readers of The Lord of the Rings ("That night they camped on a small eyot close to the western bank"). As you might guess, given Tolkien's use, this dates back (through the Middle English form eyt) to Old English, where it was ȳgett, diminutive of ieg/īg, island, which is also the first element of island, with -land stuck on it instead of the diminutive ending.


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Sep. 20th, 2016 | 07:45 am

witenagemot (WIT-n-uh-guh-moht) - n., the assembly of the witan, or national council of the king, nobles, bishops, and aldermen.

A wita being a king's councilor, literally, wise one (or one with wit), and -mot being moot, as ain a moot court. This was a political institution from the 7th to 11th centuries of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England. You'd expect an initial /v/ sound, but no, the pronunciation has been fully modernized. Historically the most common spelling was wittenagemot, with alternate forms wittenagemote, wittena-gemote and wittena-gemot, but the orthographers settled on witenagemot around 1850. The term is not used by historians much anymore, alas.


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Sep. 19th, 2016 | 08:12 am

knar or knur (NAHR) - n., a knot or burl in a tree trunk or root, a knurl.

Can be traced to Middle English knarre, which originally meant a rough stone before becoming a knot on a tree, but before that there is much speculation -- there are several apparent Germanic cognates, including Low German knarre or knorre, Dutch knar, and conjectured Old English form *cnear. Either way, one makes for pretty furniture but hard woodworking.


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Sep. 16th, 2016 | 07:52 am

revulsion (ri-VUHL-shuhn) - n., the act of suddenly drawing away; a sudden and unpleasant violent reaction in feeling, esp. one of extreme loathing.

From Latin revellere, to tear away, from re-, away + our friend of the week vellere, to pull.

And that ends the week of -vulsions -- back on Monday with the regular mashup.


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Sep. 15th, 2016 | 07:58 am

1word1day: convulsion.

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