Sunday, October 31, 2010

#304 dastard

dastard- archaic- a contemptible sneaking coward

C15 probably from Old Norse daestr exhausted, out of breath

dastardly- mean and cowardly

The following story is strictly true; and true it is that the country-people rose, to a man, at this dastard cruelty, and did what the Government failed to do.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

#303 dank

dank- unpleasantly damp and chilly

C14 probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish dank marshy spot

The black chair sits on a round wooden platform in a small, dank room.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

#302 damask

damask- a reversible fabric, usually silk or linen with a pattern woven into it: table linen, curtains...

C14 from Medieval Latin damascus, Damascus where this fabric was originally made

The real differences between the rooms intended for ladies and men were in the materials used to decorate; in the parlor, the furniture was covered in damask satin and velvet.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

#301 dally

dally- verb- to waste time idly; dawdle; to deal frivolously or lightly with; trifle, toy
- dalliance- noun; archaic word for flirtation

C14 from Anglo-French dalier to gossip

We are not going to dally or dawdle on the issue; it's time to act.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

#300 dacoit

dacoit- a member of a gang of armed robbers

C19 from Hindi dakait, from daka robbery

dacoity- robbery by an armed gang

A dacoit who had engaged hundreds of policemen in a gunfight for three days was shot dead.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

#299 Cynic, cynical

Cynic- a member of a sect founded by Antisthenes that scorned worldly things and held that self-control was the key to the only good

cynical- distrustful or contemptuous of virtue, especially selflessness in others; believing the worst of others, showing contempt for accepted standards of behaviour, of honesty and morality

The politician betrayed his promises and unleashed cynicism among those in his riding.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

#298 cymar

cymar- a woman's short fur-trimmed jacket, popular in the 17th and 18th centuries

C17 variant of simar, from French simarre, perhaps ultimately from Basque zamar sheepskin

A sea-green cymar with short sleeves, displayed her exquisitely moulded arms to perfection, and was fastened by a girdle of emeralds over a yellow satin frock.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

#297 cygnet

cygnet- a young swan

C15 from Old French cygne swan, from Latin cygnus, from Greek kuknos

It was uplifting to see the cygnet with her mother on the Thames as we went to the theater.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

#296 curmudgeon

curmudgeon- a surly or miserly person

C16 of unknown origin

Customarily she was the one to hug him, while he acted the curmudgeon and spurned her displays of affection.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

#295 curfew

curfew- an official regulation setting restrictions on movement, especially after a specific time at night; in medieval Europe the ringing of a bell to prompt people to extinguish fires and lights

C13 from Old French cuevrefeu- literally- cover the fire

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

#294 cum laude

cum laude- with praise: the lowest of three designations for above-average achievement in examinations

Latin

Terri graduated cum laude, Mark with magna cum laude (with distinction), and Sue with summa cum laude (with high distinction).

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

#293 culpa

culpa- civil law: an act of neglect; fault; sin; guilt

mea culpa- an acknowledgement of your error or guilt

culpable- deserving blame, guilty

A person who is culpable (a culprit) is one who can be blamed for doing something.

Latin- fault

The mea culpa is the first time he has acknowledged stepping out on his wife.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

#292 cul-de-sac

cul-de-sac - a road with one end blocked off; dead end; an inescapable position

C18 from French, literally: bottom of the bag

What a cul-de-sac any party would find itself in if it used the book as a guide to action.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

#291 cudgel

cudgel- a short stout stick used as a weapon

Old English cycgel related to Middle Dutch koghele stick with knob

His close associate was the main cudgel of Putin's foreign policy.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

#290 cryogenics

cryogenics- the branch of physics concerned with the production of very low temperatures and the phenomena occurring at these temperatures

from Greek kruos- icy cold, frost

Liquid hydrogen is important in cryogenics and in the study of superconductivity, as its melting point is only 20 degrees above absolute zero.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

#289 crucible

crucible- a vessel in which substances are heated to high temperatures; the hearth at the bottom of a metallurgical furnace in which the metal collects; a severe trial or test

C15 Medieval Latin crucibulum night lamp

Yale is a crucible in American life for the accommodation of intellectual achievement, of wisdom, of refinement, with the democratic ideals of openness, of social justice and of equal opportunity. ~Benno C. Schmidt

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Friday, October 15, 2010

#288 criterion

criterion-a standard by which something can be judged or decided; philosophy, defining characteristic of something

C17 from Greek kriterion from krites judge

A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends. ~ George Washington

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

#287 crepuscular

crepuscular- of or like twilight; dim; certain insects, birds...active at twilight or just before dawn

C17 from Latin crepusculum dusk, from creper dark

Boars are crepuscular, that is they forage from dusk until dawn and they are the only hoofed animals known to dig burrows.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

#286 creophagous

creophagous- flesh-eating or carnivorous

C19 from Greek kreophagos, from kreas flesh + phagein to consume

It's a concern that creophagous bacteria are in the ascendance.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

#285 credulity

credulity- disposition to believe something on little evidence; gullibility

also credulous adjective

C16 from Latin credulus, credere to believe

But the reader will begin to suspect that his credulity is about to be solicited for the aƫrial flights of witches on their sweeping brooms.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

#284 creche

creche- a day nursery for very young children; a tableau of Christ's Nativity; a foundling home or hospital

C19 from Old French: manger, crib, ultimately of Germanic origin kripja crib

And in talk shows I hear callers say that complaints about creches on public property should be dismissed because the creche is historical and not religious.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

#283 craven

craven- cowardly; mean-spirited; a coward

C13 cravant, Old French crevant burst, crack

Meanwhile the same Leftist bullies go in craven fear of offending Islamic extremists and the former terrorists of the IRA.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

#282 crapulent

crapulent- given to or resulting from intemperance; suffering from intemperance; drunken

C18 from Latin crapulentus drunk from Latin crapula, from Greek kraipale drunkenness

crapulence, crapulently

The first four letters of crapulent now dominate our usage.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

#281 coy

coy- usually of a woman affectedly demure, especially in a playful or provocative manner; shy; modest; evasive, in an annoying way

Old French coi reserved, from Latin quietus quiet

Everyone might say being coy is just another word for dishonest, but really it is just being smart.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

#280 couscous

couscous- a spicy dish, originating from North Africa, consisting of steamed semolina served with a meat stew

C17 via French from Arabic kouskour, from kaskasa to pound until fine

Serve over whole grain couscous, brown rice or quinoa (super-high protein and low in calories.)

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

#279 coup d'etat

coup d'etat- a sudden violent or illegal seizure of government

French- stroke of state

May not all these armaments be the precursors of some coup d'etat.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

#278 countenance

countenance- the face, especially when considered as expressing a person's character or mood; support or encouragement; sanction; composure; self-control; tolerate, endure

C13 from Old French contenance, Latin continentia restraint, control

And their countenance is always so happy, and yet the conditions are so difficult.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

#277 cosmology

cosmology- the philosophical study of the origin and nature of the universe; branch of astronomy concerned with the evolution and structure of the universe

from Greek cosmos

You and many others fail to understand that cosmology is not a regular science, no control experiments are possible in cosmology and therefore it's theories are necessarily much more speculative.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

#276 cortege

cortege- a formal procession, especially at a funeral; a train of attendants

C17 from French, Italian corteggio to attend, from corte court

In front of the cortege is a cousin of the man who died, who is sobbing and caressing a picture.

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

#275 corrigible

corrigible- capable of being corrected; submissive or submitting to correction

C15 from Old French, from Medieval Latin corrigibilis, from Latin corrigere to set right, correct

opposite incorrigible

Impressions are corrigible, however, and they can be measured by a standard.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

#274 corpus

corpus- a collection or body of writings, especially by a single author or on a specific topic: the substance of something

C14 from Latin body

The corpus of Dickens' words encompasses the whole shelf.

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