antipode

Pronounced: AN-tuh-PODE, noun

Notes: I’m pretty sure that I could figure out the meaning of this word in context, but I was at a loss when running across it standalone.


Yesterday’s word

The word cockade refers to “an ornament, such as a rosette or knot of ribbons, worn as a badge on a hat, lapel, etc”

Background / Comments

The word comes from French cocarde, which comes from Old French coquarde, the feminine form of coquard (vain, arrogant). This word comes from coc (a rooster, or cock). Roosters seem to be strutting about proudly; a badge on a hat could bob as a person moved, much like the rooster’s head.

First usage

This word showed up in English in the early 1700s.

cockade

Pronounced: kah-KADE, noun

Notes: I’m pretty sure I’ve run across this word, but I only had a vague sense of the meaning


Yesterday’s word

The word auctorial means “of or relating to an author”

Background / Comments

This word has an interesting background… in ancient Rome, auctioneers, grantors, and vendors were called auctors, from the Latin aug─ôre (to promote” or “to increase”). After passing through Anglo-French and Middle English is came to mean “author”. The word authorial is much more common, but our word may be occasionally found.

First usage

The word came into use in the early 1800s.

auctorial

Pronounced: awk-TORE-ee-uhl, adj

Notes: I’m surprised that I haven’t run across this word, but there is another word that is in more common use


Yesterday’s word

The word crunt means “a blow on the head with a club”

Background

The background is unknown, but thought to be an imitative word.

First usage

This word came into English in the late 1700s.

crunt

Pronounced: krunt, noun

Notes: An interesting word


Yesterday’s word

The word bimillenary means “a period of 2,000 years” or “a 2,000th anniversary”

Background

The word was created by adding bi- (an English prefix meaning ‘two’) to millenary, which comes from Latin millenarium (a period of a thousand years).

First usage

This word isn’t quite 2,000 years old: it showed up in the mid-1800s

bimillenary

Pronounced: bye-MIH-luh-ner-ee, noun

Notes: I debated about adding this word… you can probably guess the meaning


Yesterday’s word

The word capitano means “a swaggering, cowardly person, especially a soldier, policeman, etc”

Background

The word does mean ‘captain’, but in Italian, not Spanish. But the word comes from another stock character in commedia dell’arte – Capitano. The Italian word capitano comes from Latin caput (head).

First usage

This word showed up in the late 1500s.

capitano

Pronounced: kap-uh-TAH-no

Notes: I guessed some kind of Spanish-English (“Spanglish”) word for “captain” (but that’s not right)


Yesterday’s word

The word recusant means “refusing to submit to authority”

Background / Comments

This word goes back to Henry VIII — he separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the mid-1500s and created the Church of England, with himself as the head of it. By law, everyone had to attend services of the Church of England. Our word originally meant specifically “refusing to attend the services of the Church of England”, but after around 100 years, the meaning broadened to mean resistance to authority in any form. The word comes from the Latin verb recusare (reject or oppose).

First usage

The word has been around since the early 1600s.

recusant

Pronounced: reh-KYUH-zuhnt, adj

Notes: There is another word that we use far more often than this word


Yesterday’s word

The word columbine, as an adjective, means “of or relating to a dove, in innocence, gentleness, color, etc”. As a noun, it can mean:

  • a servant girl
  • a saucy sweetheart
  • a plant of the genus Aquilegia
Background / Comments

Incidentally, the plant meaning is the one I knew. The common root of all of these words is the Latin columbia (dove, pigeon). In Italian, colombina means “a small dove or a guileless woman”. The plant meaning came from the fact that the plant in question looks like five doves when upside down. Columbina is a stock character in commedia dell’arte and is the mistress of Harlequin and gives rise to the other two noun definitions. The adjective meaning is taken from the Latin definition.

First usage

The adjective first showed up in the mid-1600s; of the nouns, the plant meaning is the oldest, dating back to the early-1300s. The other two noun meanings are the latest (early 1700s).

columbine

Pronounced: KOL-um-bine, noun/adj

Notes: This is another multiple-source words. I know one meaning, but there are three different meanings for the noun and one for the adjective. I know one of the noun meanings. Which ones do you know?


Yesterday’s word

As I mentioned yesterday, I knew that spinous meant “having spines”, but I did not know that it could mean “difficult or unpleasant to handle or meet” (similar to thorny)

Background / Comments

I’ve read or used the phrase “a thorny situation” for one that is difficult; “a spinuous situation” could also be used. In fact, as far as I can tell, this usage of spinous pre-dates thorny.

First usage

This usage goes back to the late 1500s

spinous

Pronounced: SPY-nuhs, adj

Notes: I knew that this word meant “having spines (or prickles or thorns)”, but there is another meaning that I did not know, so it’s been listed


Yesterday’s word

The word eiron means “a person characterized by self-deprecation and awareness of irony”

Background / Comments

The word comes from the same source as alazon: Eiron is another stock character in ancient Greek comedy. Eiron is the opposite to Alazon, and triumphs over him using his self-deprecation and feigned ignorance.

First usage

This word came into English in the mid-1800s (you’d think they words would have come in together, but they are about 50 years apart)

eiron

Pronounced: AYE-ron, noun

Notes: This word is related to yesterday’s word


Yesterday’s word

The word alazon means “a person characterized by arrogance, braggadocio, lack of self awareness, etc”

Background / Comments

The word comes from Greek; Alazon was a stock character in ancient Greek comedy.

First usage

This word came into English in the early 1900s.