Word of the Week 2-6-2018

oblivescence

noun  ob·li·ves·cence  \ ˌäbləˈvesᵊn(t)s \


Definition

  1. the process of forgetting.

Examples

Even in reasoning, the gratifying confirmatory instance sticks in the mind, while the negative cases all go glimmering into oblivescence.

-H. L. Hollingworth, “The Oblivescence of the Disagreeable,” The Journal of Philosophy Psychology and Scientific Methods, Volume VII, January–December 1910

Would that our sins had built-in qualities of oblivescence such as our dreams have.

-Iris Murdoch, A Word Child197


Origin

Oblivescence dates from the late 19th century and is a later spelling of obliviscencewhichdates from the late 18th century. The spelling oblivescence arose by influence of the far more common suffix escenceThe English noun is a derivative of the Latin verb oblīviscī “to forget,” literally “towipe away, smooth over.” The Latin verb is composed of the prefix ob- “away,against” and the same root as the adjective lēvis “smooth.”


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Word of the Week 1-26-2018

bavardage

bavərˈdäZH

noun

Definition

Idle talk; chatter


Examples

We know that our political sphere is healthy when, first, everyone who wants to be a “participant in government” can in fact have access to it; and second, when the talk that takes place there is viewed not as mere bavardage or spin, but as one of the chief and most valuable expressions of public liberty.
The Turn of the Screw (II)

Representative assemblies are often taunted by their enemies with being places of mere talk and bavardage.
Representative Government

Though bavardage accounted for much of the general knowledge of every one’s affairs, there was an uncanny mystery in the speed at which a particular secret spread.
Mystic Isles of the South Seas.

The sentimental bavardage of boys in love will be lost upon me.
Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, No. 447 Volume 18, New Series, July 24, 1852

Philosophically speaking, this is what Kierkegaard called idle talk, snakke in Danish; what Heidegger called Gerede; what Sartre called bavardage.
The Wide Awakes

“P.S. To prevent bavardage, I prefer going in person to sending my servant with a letter.
Life of Lord Byron With His Letters And Journals


Origin

French, from bavarder to gossip, chatter (from Middle French, from bavard chatterbox, from bave slobber, from—assumed—Vulgar Latin bava) + -age


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Word of the Week 1-16-2018

decathect

[dee-kuhthekt]

verb


Definition

to withdraw one’s feelings of attachment from (a person, idea, or object), as in anticipation of a future loss


Examples

It is getting easier now for me to decathect from Eugene. ~Patricia Marx, Him Her Him Again The End of Him, 2007

He decathected from her in order to cope with her impending death. ~Dictionary.com


Origin

Decathect is an extremely rare word in English, used only in Freudian psychology. It is formed from the common prefix de-, signifying privation or removal, and the very rare verb cathect “to invest emotional energy.” Cathect is a derivative of the adjective cathectic (from Greek kathektikόs “capable of holding or retaining”), from the noun káthexis “holding, possession, retention.” The English noun cathexis is an arcane translation or partial translation of Sigmund Freud’s Besetzung, a common, ordinary word in German meaning “(military) occupation, cast (of a play),” from the verb besetzen “to occupy, stock, fill.” Decathect entered English in the 20th century.


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Word of the Week 1-9-2018

Wanderjahr

noun


Definition

a year or period of travel, especially following one’s schooling and before practicing a profession.

(formerly) a year in which an apprentice traveled and improved his skills before settling down to the practice of his trade.


Examples

When your father finished college, he had his Wanderjahr, a fine year’s ramble up the Rhine and down the Loire, with a pretty girl on one arm and a good comrade on the other.  ~Walker Percy, The Moviegoer, 1961

She has to be bored by Billshe’s probably pleased with the daughterand increasingly worried about the son, as his Wanderjahr has become a Wander life. ~Michael Cunningham, By Nightfall, 2010


Origin

Wander-year, the English translation of German Wanderjahr, was first recorded in English about 1880. Its German original entered English about a dozen years later. Like the German noun, wander-years meant the period between one’s finishing artisanal training or graduation from university and the beginning of one’s career. German and English wander derive from the Proto-Indo-European root wendh- “to turn, weave,” the source of “wind” (the verb) and “wend,” whose past tense, “went,” now serves as the past tense of the verb “to go.” Year and Jahr derive from the Proto-Indo-European root yēr- “year, season,” source of Greek hṓrā “period, season,” adopted into Latin as hōra “hour” (of varying length), the source, through Old French of English “hour.”


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Word of the Week 1-2-2018

bagatelle

noun


Definition

1. something of little value or importance; a trifle.

2. a game played on a board having holes at one end into which balls are to be struck with a cue.

3. pinball.

4. a short and light musical composition, typically for the piano.


Examples

My horse was an excellent roadster; and I was expecting to do the fifty miles–a mere bagatelle to a South American steed–before sunset.  – Mayne Reid, The Finger of Fate1872


Origin

Bagatelle came to English from French, from Upper Italian bagat(t)ella, equivalent to bagatt(a) “small possession.” It entered English in the 1630s.


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Word of the Week 12-27-2017

dormition


Definition

The process of falling asleep.

The process of death or the actual death itself.

The death and assumption into heaven of the Virgin Mary.


Examples

Mary asked that the Twelve Apostles be brought to her, then fell into a deep sleep, the dormition, and died peacefully.
A Handbook of Symbols in Christian Art

It is a position anciently known, and modern experience hath allowed it for a sad truth, that absence and time, — like cold weather, and an unnatural dormition — will blast and wear out of memory the most endearing obligations; and hence it was that some politicians in love have looked upon the former of these two as a main remedy against the fondness of that passion.
Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist, Volume II 


Origin

 The word ‘dormition’ comes from a Latin word meaning “to sleep”.


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Tuesday’s Word of the Week 12-19-2017

paludal

[puh-lood-l, pal-yuh-dl]

Adjective


Definition

of or relating to marshes

produced by marshes, as miasma or disease.


Examples

 We durst not … make a sudden leap, princum-prancum!, from the pleasant land of Hesse, the German garden, to marshy Dublin, its paludal heavens, its big winds and rains and sorrows and puddles of sky-flowers…

— Samuel Beckett (1906–1989), Dream of Fair to Middling Women, 1992


Origin

The English adjective paludal is formed from Latin palūd- (stem of palūs) “swamp, marsh, fen.” The noun palude “swamp, fen” existed in English from the time of Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?–1400), who first used it, to Richard Hakluyt (1552?–1616), the English geographer and editor whose works greatly influenced Shakespeare (1564–1616). Hakluyt used Palude as a part of a place name, as in “the Palude or marshes of Venice.” Italian also uses palude as a common noun and as a place name, in the form Paludo, e.g., San Giacomo in Paludo (a small island in the Venetian lagoon). Italian also has the family name Padula, a metathesized form of palude, for someone who lived in or near a fen or swamp. Paludal entered English in the 19th century.


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