Word Of The Day 4-7-2017




a curse of the evil eye, whereby all that the cursed looks upon will suffer bad luck.


  • If he who takes tobacco is not more to be feared than he who wears spectacles? and if spectacles, peruke, and snuff-box combined do not triple the force of the _jettatura?  The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 05, No. 32, June, 1860

  • Things have, indeed, somewhat changed since the days of Didymus, in this respect, that men are now thought to be more potent for evil _jettatura_ than women; but his general views still coincide with those entertained at the present time in Italy.  The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 05, No. 32, June, 1860

Word Of The Day 4-6-2017


om·ni·cide \ˈämnə̇ˌsīd\
Popularity: Bottom 20% of words

 The total extinction of the human species as a result of human action. Most commonly it refers to human extinction through nuclear warfare, but it can also refer to such extinction through other means such as global anthropogenic ecological catastrophe and Lethargica.


If we realize that genocide and, what many experts are calling omnicide – eventual human extinction by human action – is taking place?

No More DU, No More Hiroshimas, No More Nagasakis

Ecocide, or perhaps biocide, or perhaps omnicide, would be an act exterminating not just all humans, but the entire circle of life on planet earth itself.
Tad Daley: Apollo or Extinction

We must act in our own self-defense “immediately, before humankind exterminates itself in an act of nuclear omnicide.”
Francis A. Boyle’s “Protesting Power – War, Resistance and Law”


The word ‘omnicide’ is a formed from ‘omni-‘ (‘all’) + ‘-cide’ (kill).



Word Of The Day 4-3-2017


tar·an·tism \ˈta-rən-ˌti-zəm\
Popularity: Bottom 20% of words


a mania characterized by an uncontrollable impulse to dance,especially as prevalent in southern Italy from the 15th to the 17th century, popularly attributed to the bite of the tarantula.


One of the best known of these diseases is ‘tarantism,’ or the frenzy produced by the bite of the Tarantula, Italy.  –Shakespeare and Music. Edward W. Naylor.

The tarantism so common in Italy from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century is another example of epidemic hysteria.   -Essays In Pastoral Medicine. Austin Malley

Historians would draw parallels between her recurring Voices and the ‘tarantism’ of the Middle Ages.  -Essays in Rebellion. Henry W. Nevinson

Did You Know?

Between the 15th and 17th centuries, Taranto, Italy, was hit by a dance craze unlike any other. The town was afflicted by a malady that would come to be known as tarantism and was characterized by a hysterical impulse to dance. Some people claimed tarantism was caused by the bite of the European wolf spider, which is also known as the tarantula (and is also named after Taranto); such folks declared that dancing off the venom was the only cure. Musicians supposedly traveled to the region to help cure the epidemic, and some believe that the Italian folk dance called the tarantella resulted from the craze (though it is also possible that the name of that dance derived independently from Taranto and has no connection with tarantism).


New Latin tarantismus, from Taranto, Italy

First Known Use: circa 1656


Word Of The Day 3-29-2017


ha·mar·tia \ˌhä-ˌmär-ˈtē-ə\
Popularity: Bottom 40% of words


tragic flaw – a mistake in judgment committed by a tragic hero. While the character’s intentions and personal flaws play a central role in this process, this word specifically refers to the character’s erroneous action. This error may be the result of a lack of knowledge or moral flaw, and it generally brings about the sorrow, downfall, or death of the hero. The results are usually the direct opposite of the character’s expectations.


That is not unmotivated, however; it is of Aspatia’s own choosing and of Amintor’s hamartia. Francis Beaumont: Dramatist Charles Mills Gayley
The pathetic devotion of Aspatia is essential to our understanding of Amintor’s tragic weakness, his hamartia. Francis Beaumont: Dramatist Charles Mills Gayley
Hamlet’s tragic flaw in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” determines his tragic downfall. Hamlet’s hamartia is his indecisiveness. He cannot make up his mind about the dilemmas he confronts. https://literarydevices.net/hamartia/

Did You Know?

Aristotle introduced the term in the Poetics to describe the error of judgment which ultimately brings about the tragic hero’s downfall. As you can imagine, the word is most often found in literary criticism. However, news writers occasionally employ the word when discussing the unexplainable misfortune or missteps of über celebrities regarded as immortal gods and goddesses before being felled by their own shortcomings.

Origin and Etymology of hamartia

Greek, from hamartanein to miss the mark, err.

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

Word Of The Day 3-8-2017


Popularity: Bottom 30% of words

Definition of deasil

  1. : clockwise or in the direction of the sun’s course

Origin and Etymology of deasil

1771, from Gaelic deiseil, deiseal (adjective and adverb) “toward the south,” taken in sense of “toward the right,” from deas “right, right-hand; south,” cognate with Irish deas, Old Irish dess, des, Welsh dehau, and ultimately with Latin dexter (see dexterity). The second element of the Gaelic word is not explained (one old guess, in the Century Dictionary (1902), is a proposed *iul “direction, guidance”).
First Known Use: 1771

Did You Know?

According to an old custom, you can bring someone good fortune by walking around the person clockwise three times while carrying a torch or candle. In Scottish Gaelic, the word deiseil is used for the direction one walks in such a luck-bringing ritual. English speakers modified the spelling to deasil, and have used the word to describe clockwise motion in a variety of rituals.



Word Of The Day 2-16-2017




1 : situated on the farther side of a bridge

2 : (British) situated on the south side of the Thames


Traffic on the Tobin Bridge was at a near standstill, and it took us twenty minutes to reach our transpontine destination in Charlestown.

“The moment Waterloo Bridge was planned across the Thames, a new theatre to serve the transpontine coach trade was inevitable.” — Robert Gore-Langton, The Spectator (UK), 15 Nov. 2014.

Did You Know?

Usually the prefix trans-, meaning “across,” allows for a reciprocal perspective. Whether you’re in Europe or America, for example, transoceanic countries are countries across the ocean from where you are. But that’s not the way it originally worked with transpontine. The pont- in transpontine is from the Latin pons, meaning “bridge,” and the bridge in this case was, at first, any bridge that crossed the River Thames in the city of London. “Across the bridge” meant on one side of the river only—the south side. That’s where the theaters that featured popular melodramas were located, and Victorian Londoners used transpontine to distinguish them from their more respectable cispontine (“situated on the nearer side of a bridge”) counterparts north of the Thames.