Latin IS English!

November 16, 2008

Putting Our Fingers on the Word “Effigy”

Word of the Day Image
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for November 16, 2008 is:

effigy • \EFF-uh-jee\  • noun

: an image or representation especially of a person; especially : a crude figure representing a hated person.

Example sentence:
A giant effigy is set ablaze at the climax of the annual Burning Man festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada.

Did you know?
An earlier sense of
effigy is “a likeness of a person shaped out of stone or other materials,” so it’s not surprising to learn that “effigy” derives from the Latin verb fingere,” which means to shape.” “Fingere” is the common ancestor of a number of other English nouns that name things you can shape. A “fiction” is a story you shape with your imagination. “Figments” are shaped by the imagination, too; they’re something you imagine or make up. A “figure” can be a numeral, a shape, or a picture that you shape as you draw or write.

 

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June 7, 2008

An “Impeccable” Choice for the “Word of the Day!”

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for May 31, 2008 is:

impeccable • \im-PECK-uh-bul\  • adjective
1 : not capable of sinning or liable to sin *2 : free from fault or blame : flawless

Example sentence:
Although the restaurant was a bit expensive, we found its memorable cuisine, luxurious decor, and impeccable service to be well worth the price.

Did you know?
The word impeccable has been used in English since at least 1531. It derives from the Latin word “impeccabilis,” a combination of the Latin prefix “in-,” meaning “not,” and the verb “peccare,” meaning “to sin.” “Peccare” has other descendents in English. There is “peccadillo,” meaning “a slight offense,” and “peccant,” meaning “guilty of a moral offense” or simply “faulty.” There is also “peccavi,” which comes from Latin, where it literally means “I have sinned,” and which is used in English as a noun meaning “an acknowledgment of sin.”

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

                 


**Blogger’s Note:  The root Latin word “peccare” also gained significant theological importance via Reformed theologians like Augustine in his treatment on man’s “will” (as discussed by Scottish Puritan Thomas Boston in “Human Nature and Its Fourfold State,” paragraph two). For an even more detailed discussion of the phrases “posse nōn pecarre” ( = “able not to sin”) and “nōn posse non peccare” ( = “not able not to sin,”) and also the heaven-based nōn posse peccare” ( = “not able to sin”), go here.      

Additionally, for a listing of significant Latin theological terms and expressions, click here or download the similar PDF from here or from the sidebar.

May 19, 2008

A “Propensity” for Adding Another “Word of the Day”


Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for May 19, 2008 is:

propensity • \pruh-PENN-suh-tee\  • noun
: an often intense natural inclination or preference

Example sentence:
“My brother has a propensity for exaggeration,” said Daniella, “so you should probably take his claims with a grain of salt.”

Did you know?
When it comes to synonyms of “propensity,” the letter “p” predominates. “Proclivity,” “preference,” “penchant,” and “predilection” all share with “propensity” the essential meaning “a strong instinct or liking.” Not every word that is similar in meaning to “propensity” begins with “p,” however. “Propensity” comes from Latin “propensus,” the past participle of “propendēre,” a verb meaning “to incline” or “to hang forward or down.” Thus “leaning” and “inclination” are as good synonyms of “propensity” as any of those “p”-words.

April 20, 2008

“What is this ‘Word of the Day’ all about?”, cried the “petulant” young man.

petulant mp3

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for April 20, 2008 is:

petulant \PET-chuh-lunt\  • adjective
1 : insolent or rude in speech or behavior *2 : characterized by temporary or capricious ill humor : peevish

Example sentence:
“‘What is it all about?’ cried Dorian in his petulant way, flinging himself down on the sofa.” (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray)

Did you know?
“Petulant” is one of many English words that are related to the Latin verb “petere,” which means “to go to,” “to attack,” “to seek,” or “to request.” “Petere” is a relative of the Latin adjective “petulans” (“impudent”), from which “petulant” was derived. Some other words with connections to “petere” are “compete” and “appetite.” “Competere,” the Late Latin precursor to “compete,” is a combination of the prefix “com-” and the verb “petere.” The joining of “ad-” and “petere” led to “appetere” (“to strive after”), and eventually to Latin “appetitus,” the source of our “appetite.” Additional descendants of “petere” are “petition,” “perpetual,” and “impetus.”

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

April 2, 2008

Let’s “Coalesce” around the “Word of the Day”

 

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for April 02, 2008 is: coalesce • \koh-uh-LESS\  • verb1 : to grow together 2 a : to unite into a whole : fuse*b : to unite for a common end : join forces 3 : to arise from the combination of distinct elements
 
Example sentence:The columnist urged party members to set aside their differences and coalesce around the candidate.
 
Did you know?  “Coalesce” unites the prefix “co-“ (“together”) and the Latin verb “alescere,” meaning “to grow.” (The words “adolescent” and “adult” also grew from “alescere.”) “Coalesce,” which first appeared in English in the mid-17th century, is one of a number of verbs in English (along with “mix,” “commingle,” “merge,” and “amalgamate”) that refer to the act of combining parts into a whole. In particular, “coalesce” usually implies the merging of similar parts to form a cohesive unit.
 
*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
 
 
 

“Vivacious” Living

 
 
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for March 31, 2008 is: vivacious • \vuh-VAY-shus\  • adjective: lively in temper, conduct, or spirit : sprightly
 
Example sentence:The hostess was a pretty, vivacious woman with a knack for making people feel comfortable.
 
Did you know?  It’s no surprise that “vivacious” means “full of life,” since it can be traced back to the Latin verb “vivere,” meaning “to live.” The word was created around the mid-17th century using the Latin adjective “vivax,” meaning “long-lived, vigorous, high-spirited.” Other descendants of “vivere” in English include “survive,” “revive,” and “victual” — all of which came to life during the 15th century — and “vivid” and “convivial,” both of which surfaced around the same time as “vivacious.” Somewhat surprisingly, the word “live” is not related; it comes to us from the Old English word “libban.”
 
vivacious.mp3

 

March 25, 2008

A “Flood” of Words from Latin—Word of the Day: “antediluvian”

antediluvian.mp3

 

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for March 22, 2008 is: antediluvian • \an-tih-dih-LOO-vee-un\  • adjective 1 : of or relating to the period before the flood described in the Bible 2 a : made, evolved, or developed a long time ago *b : extremely primitive or outmoded
 
Example sentence:  The researchers argued that the lab’s equipment was antediluvian and long overdue for replacement.
 
Did you know? Before there was “antediluvian,” there were the Latin words “ante” (meaning “before”) and “diluvium” (meaning “flood”). As long ago as 1646, English speakers were using “antediluvian” to describe conditions they believed existed before the great flood described in the biblical account of Noah and the ark. By the early 1700s, the word had come to be used as both an adjective and a noun referring to anything or anyone prodigiously old. Charles Darwin used it to characterize the mighty “antediluvian trees” some prehistoric mammals might have used as a food source, and in hisAmerican Notes, Charles Dickens described an elderly lady who informed him, “It is an extremely proud and pleasant thing . . . to be an antediluvian.

 

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