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mirative

Dec. 31st, 2018 | 07:47 am

mirative (MIR-uh-tiv) - n., a grammatical mood that expresses (surprise at) new information or unexpected revelations.


Not a distinct verbal mood in most languages, and there is some debate over whether it exists in any language separate from moods expressing evidentiality. For example, Albanian has distinct mirative forms expressing surprise, but they can also express doubt, irony, or that something is reported secondhand. Coined either on French models or from Midlands English dialect mirate, an alternate shortened from of admire.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/749431.html
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shrievalty

Dec. 28th, 2018 | 07:44 am

shrievalty (SHREE-vuhl-tee) - n., the office, term, or jurisdiction of a sheriff.


In England and Wales, anyway, as in Scotland they use sheriffdom instead. The term is not much used in the United States, despite sheriff being an important office -- specifically, the main local law enforcement outside of incorporated cities is the county's sheriff and their deputies (exceptions: Alaska and Connecticut). The word form looks a little odd unless you know that sheriff is a contraction of shire reeve, and then shrieve more easily reads as an alternate contraction, to which -alty was added on the model of mayoralty.

Sheriff's badge
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---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/749110.html
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sermocination

Dec. 27th, 2018 | 07:54 am

sermocination - n., a figure of speech in which the speaker immediately answers their own question.


Is this obsolete? Yes, indeed it is. Does it have any other, even more obsolete senses? Yes, in the more obvious meaning of the act of making or writing of sermons, or more briefly sermonizing. Is it from Latin? Indeed: sermonationem, noun of action from the past-participle stem of sermonari, talk/discourse/harangue, from sermo.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/748905.html
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musquash

Dec. 21st, 2018 | 07:57 am

musquash (MUHS-kwosh) - n., muskrat, a large aquatic North American rodent (Ondatra zibethica) having a musky odor; the light-brown fur from this animal.


Musquash is the older form of the name, now rare, and when used is more often the fur than the beastie. Said beastie, by the way, while native to temperate North America, is an invasive species across Eurasia and parts of South America. Obligatory Captain & Tennille. The name comes from some Algonquian language, possibly Abenaki mòskwas or the Massachusett cognate, apparently derived from Proto-Algonquian roots meaning head-bobs-above-water, referring to its appearance while swimming.

Muskrat love
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Admin: I'm off for the holiday, but should be back and posting mid/late next week. Have a safe and happy solstice, everyone!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/748765.html
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infract

Dec. 20th, 2018 | 07:55 am

infract (in-FRAKT) - v., to break or violate (a law, agreement, etc.).


The very much less used verb form of infraction. (In U.S. federal law, an infraction is a smaller offense than a misdemeanor, and the penalty is only ever a fine -- an example is a parking ticket.) This comes from the Latin past participle stem īnfrāct- of īnfringere, to destroy, which also gave us infringe.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/748483.html
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metagrobolize

Dec. 19th, 2018 | 08:44 am

metagrobolize (meh-tuh-GROB-uh-laiz) - v., to puzzle, mystify, baffle.


Not common, but definitely available for humorous use. Coined 1534 in French by Rabelais, and imported into English in an 1693 translation of same, by attaching Greek root mátaios, vain/frivolous + grabeler, to sift (which arrived via Italian, via Arabic, from Latin cribulum, a sieve). Metagrobology is sometimes used for the study (and construction) of puzzles.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/748080.html
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quitch

Dec. 18th, 2018 | 07:57 am

quitch (KWICH) - n., a common perennial grass (Elymus repens) that is native to Eurasia and an invasive species throughout the rest of the world.


Also called twitch, couch grass, quick-grass, dog-grass, quackgrass, scutch grass, and witchgrass. Often considered a weed outside of its native lands. In Middle English it was called quicche and in Old English, cwice -- ultimately going back to the same PIE root as quick in the of living/vigorous.

Quitch growing quick
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---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/747987.html
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fanion

Dec. 17th, 2018 | 07:55 am

fanion (FAN-yuhn) - n., a small flag used by surveyors to mark a position.


Originally used by military scouts. Also apparently used for a safety flag mounted on a bike, as I learned while looking for a picture for this post. Taken around 1700 from French, where it's a diminutive of fanon, a pennon (and used in modern French for any kind of small pennon or pennant), from Old French form fanum, from conjectural Old Low Franconian *fano, piece of fabric.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/747722.html
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peristeronic

Dec. 14th, 2018 | 07:58 am

peristeronic (puh-ri-sta-RON-ik) - adj., of, pertaining to, or resembling a pigeon.


Coo! Coined in the 19th century by a pigeon-fancier from Greek peristera, wild pigeon/dove.

Many pigeons
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---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/747409.html
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diffluent

Dec. 13th, 2018 | 07:52 am

diffluent or difluent (DIF-loo-uhnt) - adj., flowing away or apart, divergent.


Also, an obscure older meaning, easily dissolving. Primary use these days seems to be in meteorology, which uses the one-f spelling, used of winds that diverge (especially as when viewed on a weather chart), but otherwise through history the two-ff spelling has predominated, sometimes used with sense of melting-and-flowing-away. Ported in around 1610 from the stem form of Latin diffluens, flowing away, present participle of diffluere.

---L.

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