Word of the Week 5-24-2018

Spagyric

[spuh-jeer-ik]

Adj


Definition

pertaining to or resembling alchemy; alchemic.


Examples

He saw the true gold into which the beggarly matter of existence may be transmuted by spagyric art; a succession of delicious moments, all the rare flavours of life concentrated, purged of their lees, and preserved in a beautiful vessel.

Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams1907

I fear that many a practitioner of the spagyric art has perished handling it without due  respect.

Jacqueline Carey, Miranda and Caliban2017


Origin

The rare adjective spagyric comes from New Latin spagiricus “alchemical; alchemy; an alchemist” and was first used and probably coined by the Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus (c1493–1541). There is no trustworthy etymology for the word. Spagyric entered English in the late 16th century.


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Word of the Week 4-19-2018

pantofle

pan-tuh-fuh l, pan-tof-uh l, –toh-fuh l, –too-]

noun


Definition

a slipper
a cork-soled pattern covering the forepart of the foot, worn in the 16th century.


Examples

… your art / Can blind a jealous husband, and, disguised / Like a milliner or shoemaker, convey / A letter in a pantofle or glove, / Without suspicion, nay at his table …Philip Massinger, The Emperor of the East, 1632

“I’ve lost a pantofle!” he whispered desperately.Sally Watson, The Outrageous Oriel, 2006


Origin

Pantofle “indoor shoe, slipper” comes from Middle French pantoufle, pantophle (and other spellings). The word occurs in other Romance languages, e.g., Occitan and Italian have pantofla (and other spellings), and Spanish has pantufla. Catalan changed the position of the l in original pantofla to plantofa under the influence of planta “sole (of the foot)”; compare English plantar (wart). Further etymology of pantofle is speculative. Pantofle entered English in the late 15th century.


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Wednesday’s Word of the Week 4-11-2018

claustrophilia

Noun


Definition

The love of enclosed, tight places.


Examples

For me, there is a strong connection, between this kind of claustrophilia, a love of curiosity cabinets and the concept of horror as applied to Victorian design.
Snug as a Bug in a Beautiful Box

That you would group these people along with the Austrians as part of the “free market crowd” only exposes your suffocating intellectual claustrophilia.
Matthew Yglesias » Macro Rap

With little doors you can close if you want to be really snug (there’s a thin line between claustrophilia and claustrophobia, though).
Snug as a Bug in a Beautiful Box

Sources said the MI6 agent was a fan of claustrophilia – in which people get sexual pleasure from confined spaces.
NEWS.com.au | Top Stories


Origin

The word ‘claustrophilia’ comes from the Latin word ‘claustrum’ (“a shut in place”) +‎ ‘-philia’.


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Wednesday’s Word of the Week 3-28-2018

 

kakorrhaphiophobia

ka-kor-‘haf-E-O-‘fo-bE-u

-noun


Definition

abnormal, persistent, irrational fear of failure.


Examples

This is the last word that someone with kakorrhaphiophobia would want to encounter in a spelling bee.


Origin

The origin of the word kako is Greek (meaning bad) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear). 


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Wednesday’s Word of the Week 3-21-2018

pishogue

noun  pi·shogue

variants: or pishoge  \pə̇ˈshōg\ or pishrogue  \(ˈ)pi¦shrōg\


Definition

Magic, witchcraft; a spell, especially one designed to cause or cure illnesses to man or beast, or to increase or decrease the quantities of farm products such as butter or milk.

Witchcraft; incantation; charm.


Examples

I reached for it and rubbed it—even though I knew the talk of fairies was a lot of pishogue.
Secret of the Night Ponies

“Even though it’s pishogue, it won’t hurt to be cautious,” I agreed.
Secret of the Night Ponies

And when they were brought out to be burned the woman said, “Bring me out a bit of flax and I’ll show you a pishogue.”

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland, Second Series Lady Gregory 


Origin

The word ‘pishogue’ comes from the Irish ‘piseogm,’ witchcraft.


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Wednesday’s Word of the Week 3-14-2018

quinzhee

/ˈkwɪnz/

noun


Definition

  1. A shelter made by hollowing out a pile of snow.

(This is in contrast to an igloo, which is built up from blocks of hard snow, and a snow cave, constructed by digging into the snow.)


Examples

Bidding goodnight to Francine, John and I set off in the dark to find both quinzhee and tent.
The Independent – Frontpage RSS Feed

John is all for sleeping in the quinzhee, but having seen how thin Regent’s sleeping bags are, I exert what is left of my parental authority and take up our host’s suggestion that we use a nearby tent which he has equipped with a log-burning stove.
The Independent – Frontpage RSS Feed

 


Origin

The word ‘quinzhee’ comes from a Slavey word meaning “in the shelter”. (Slavey is an Athabaskan language spoken among the Slavey and Sahtu people of Canada in the Northwest Territories.)

 


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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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