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asterism

Sep. 3rd, 2019 | 07:46 am

asterism (AS-tuh-riz-uhm) - n., (astronomy) a group of stars that is not one of the traditionally established constellations; (mineralogy) a six-rayed star-shaped figure exhibited by some crystals in reflected or transmitted light; (typography) three asterisks in a triangular formation (⁂) used to call attention to a passage.


The first sense is the one I know best. The group can be part of a standard constellation (such as the Big Dipper, which is one part of Canis Major) or parts of several constellation (such as the Summer Triangle, which is the brightest stars of Lyra, Cygnus, and Aquila). The second is the star of a star sapphire:

Asterism in sapphire
Thanks, WikiMedia!

The third is now rarely used. First appears in the 1590s, from Greek asterismós, constellation, from astēr, star.

---L.

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sprachgefühl

Aug. 30th, 2019 | 07:40 am

sprachgefühl (SHPRAHKH-guh-fyl) - n., an intuitive grasp of the natural idiom of a language.


When you just know that a phrase sounds right or wrong, even if you don't know what's wrong about it, you've got sprachgefühl. If you don't, you end up with such wonderments as English as She Is Spoke. Taken in the 1890s from German, where it's a compound of Sprache, language + Gefühl, feeling.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/789690.html
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quakebuttock

Aug. 29th, 2019 | 08:17 am

quakebuttock - n., (obs., rare) a coward.


One whose buttocks quake in fear. A nice Elizabethan insult that has experienced a small revival over the last generation.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/789424.html
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grosgrain

Aug. 28th, 2019 | 07:42 am

grosgrain (GROH-grayn) n., a close-woven silk or rayon fabric or ribbon with horizontal ribs.


Which ribs come from having a weft heavier than its warp. From French gros-grain, coarse grain/strong fabric, from gros, coarse/thick + grain, grain/texture.

a few grosgrain ribbons
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/789092.html
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psychrophilic

Aug. 27th, 2019 | 07:37 am

psychrophilic (sai-kroh-FIL-ik) - adj., thriving best at low temperatures.


Applied mainly to bacteria and fungi growing in the range of −20 °C to +10 °C. Yes, down to 20 degrees below freezing, making them a type of extremophiles. Coined in the late 19th century from Greek roots psychros, cold/frozen +‎ -phílos, love + -ic.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/788793.html
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spinnaker

Aug. 26th, 2019 | 07:48 am

spinnaker (SPIN-uh-ker) - n., on a yacht, a large triangular headsail used when running before the wind.


Spinnaker belling out front
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The one belling out in front -- and because it's fastened by the three corners, there's no way to use it except with the wind coming from behind. This is very much a yachting terms: although there are mentions of the term in larger ship's logs, for any of various jib staysays, it was widely used only when the sail started to be added to yachts in the 1860s. Its exact origin is unknown, tho' there's plenty of stories about possible origins.

---L.

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rabic

Aug. 23rd, 2019 | 07:35 am

rabic (RAY-bik) - adj., pertaining to, caused by, or affected by rabies.


As in the infectious animal disease.

And that wraps it up for WWFWTF 10, and WWFWTF in general. Back next week with the usual mix of unsorted words.

---L.

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plew

Aug. 22nd, 2019 | 08:05 am

plew (PLOO) - n., (Western U.S. & Canada) (dated) a beaver pelt.


I -- what the -- ummm, okay then. Wasn't expecting that definition. Dated because, well, we don't hunt beavers anymore. From Canadian French pelu, from noun use of French pelu, hairy, now an obsolete word but with a long history going back to Latin pilus, hair.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/788063.html
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agogô

Aug. 21st, 2019 | 07:45 am

agogô (ah-GOH-goh) - n., a musical instrument consisting of two conical bells mounted on a U-shaped handle.


Originally Yoruban (as is the name) now also used in samba baterias and other Latin musics, usually with a wooden stick to hit it.

Agogo!
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

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coof

Aug. 20th, 2019 | 07:38 am

coof (KOOF) - n., (Scot.) a silly or stupid person, a dolt, a lout.


Yet another synonym for one. Slang dating to the early 18th century, origin uncertain (like so much slang), but one guess is alteration of cove, a fellow, from Romani.

---L.

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