Archive for the Language Category

Word of the day

Posted in Language on March 26, 2011 by malcog


kismet \KIZ-met; -mit\, noun:

Destiny; fate.

It’s pure kismet when these two find each other.
— Janet Maslin, “The Mighty’: Talents to Make Buddies — Walking and Wisecracking”, New York Times, October 9, 1998

Winning wasn’t essential, though it seemed kismet that Cone, for a second straight year, came back from injury to pitch in a game that clinched a bit of postseason bliss.
— Claire Smith, “Cone Puts the Yankees’ Minds at Ease”, New York Times, September 21, 1997

Applewhite’s writings are heavy with kismet: he said he was visiting a hospitalized friend when Mrs. Nettles entered the room and their eyes locked in a shared recognition of esoteric secrets.
— Barry Bearak, “Eyes on Glory: Pied Pipers of Heaven’s Gate”, New York Times, April 28, 1997

Kismet comes (via Turkish) from Arabic qismah, “portion, lot.”


Word of the Day

Posted in Language on March 20, 2011 by malcog


truckle \TRUHK-uhl\, intransitive verb:

1. To yield or bend obsequiously to the will of another; to act in a subservient manner.

1. A small wheel or roller; a caster.

Only where there was a “defiance,” a “refusal to truckle,” a “distrust of all authority,” they believed, would institutions “express human aspirations, not crush them.”
— Pauline Maier, “A More Perfect Union”, New York Times, October 31, 1999

The son struggled to be obedient to the conventional, commercial values of the father and, at the same time, to maintain his own playful, creative innocence. This conflict could make him truckle in the face of power.
— Dr. Margaret Brenman-Gibson, quoted in “Theater Friends Recall Life and Works of Odets,” by Herbert Mitgang, New York Times, October 30, 1981

I am convinced that, broadly speaking, the audience must accept the piece on my own terms; that it is fatal to truckle to what one conceives to be popular taste.
— Sidney Joseph Perelman, quoted in “The Perelman Papers,” by Herbert Mitgang, New York Times, March 15, 1981

Truckle is from truckle in truckle bed (a low bed on wheels that may be pushed under another bed; also called a trundle bed), in reference to the fact that the truckle bed on which the pupil slept was rolled under the large bed of the master. The ultimate source of the word is Greek trokhos, “a wheel.”

The MSM truckle about trying to gain the favor of the Vacationer in Chief.

Let’s get started with the word of the day

Posted in Language, Uncategorized on March 3, 2011 by malcog


gimcrack \JIM-krak\, noun:

1. A showy but useless or worthless object; a gewgaw.

1. Tastelessly showy; cheap; gaudy.

Yet the set is more than a collection of pretty gimcracks.
— Frank Rich, Hot Seat

In those cities most self-conscious about their claim to be part of English history, like Oxford or Bath, the shops where you could have bought a dozen nails, home-made cakes or had a suit run up, have shut down and been replaced with places selling teddy bears, T-shirts and gimcrack souvenirs.
— Jeremy Paxman, The English: A Portrait of a People

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