Pronounced: tromp loi
Notes: No credit for knowing the language this word comes from
The word sedulous means
- involving or accomplished with careful perseverance
- diligent in application or pursuit
The word traces back to the Latin se dolus, literally meaning “without guile”. The two words eventually merged into one, sedulo (sincerely, diligently), which became sedulus in Latin and became our word in English.
This word came into English in the mid-1500s
Pronounced: SEH-juh-luhs, adj
Notes: I was off on this word; I associated it with something sinister or unpleasant, and that’s not at all the case for this word
The word ullage means “the amount of liquid by which a container falls short of being full” – a pretty handy word.
The word comes from Old French noun ouillage/eullage, which come from the verb ouiller/eullier (to fill a cask), with the root word ouil (eye, hole).
The word showed up in the mid-1400s
Pronounced: UL-ihj, noun
Notes: A nice, useful word that I did not know
The word tarantism means “a dancing mania or malady of late medieval Europe”
In the 1500s the town of Taranto in Italy was hit by a dance craze; people had a hysterical impulse to dance and was called “tarantism”. Some people claimed that this impulse was caused by the bite of the the European wolf spider, called “tarantula” — also after the name of the town. The folk story was that dancing was the only cure to the bite. Musicians would show up in the region to help cure the epidemic. There is some belief that the Italian folk dance called the “tarantella” resulted from this craze (note that this is the word that I referred to as knowing); however, “tarantella” may have just come from the town name instead of the dance name.
The word showed up in the mid-1600s
Pronounced: TA-run-tih-zuhm, noun
Notes: I didn’t know this word, but it is related to a word I have heard of
The word Bluebeard refers to a marries and kills one wife after another
As I noted yesterday, I knew the meaning of this word; it was the background that I didn’t know. I’ve always thought that Bluebeard was a real person – probably by association with Blackbeard, who was a real person. Bluebeard comes from a fairy tale by Charles Perrault. The main character, Raoul, has the nickname Bluebeard due to his bluish beard. He marries multiple times, and forbids each wife to enter a certain room. One wife does, and finds the bodies of his earlier wives. Thus the word came to mean a man who has married several times. A similar phrase for women is “black widow”.
The word came into English in the late 1700s
Pronounced: BLUE-beard, noun
Notes: I know the word, but the background was utterly new to me
The word palinode means
- an ode or song recanting or retracting something in an earlier poem
- a formal retraction
The story goes that Stesichorus, a Greek poet in the 6th century BC, was struck blind after writing a poem insulting Helen of Troy. His sight was restored after he wrote an apologetic palinode – he used the Greek word palinōidia, from palin (back or again) with aeidein (to sing). English poets borrowed the Greek word for their own nodes.
This word came into English in the 1500s
Pronounced: PAH-luh-node, noun
Notes: I was thinking it might be related to “palliative”, but it isn’t.
The word prosopopeia means “a figure of speech in which..”
- …an imaginary or absent person is represented as acting or speaking
- …an inanimate object or something abstract is represented as possessing human form; personification
The word comes from Latin prosopopoeia, which comes from Greek prosopopoiia (personification), which is made up of pros- (facing) plus ops (eye) plus poiein (to make)
This word showed up in the mid-1500s
I rejected circadian because I was pretty close to the meaning.
Pronounced: pruh-so-puh-PEE-uh (also spelled prosopopoeia)
Notes: Quite a long word!
The phrase scarlet pimpernel means, as one might guess, “a person who rescues others from mortal danger by smuggling them across a border”.
The book The Scarlet Pimpernel came out in 1903 and was popular. English speakers began to use scarlet pimpernel to refer to anyone who smuggled people in danger to a safe haven in another country. Over the years, the term has become more generalized and can now refer to a person who is daring, mysterious, or evasive.
This word began to be used in the early 1900s.
I rejected wraith because I knew the meaning.
Pronounced: SKAR-luht PIM-per-nuhl, noun
Notes: I have read the book, The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy, and I have seen the 1982 film (with Anthony Andrews & Jane Seymour) as well as the 1934 film (with Leslie Howard & Merle Oberon), but I had no idea that this was a word, which is why it is included here. I suspect nearly everyone can guess the definition.
The word mugwump means “an independent, especially in politics”.
The word is humorously explained as someone who sites on a fence with his mug (face) on one side, and his wump (rump) on the other. In truth, the word comes from the Massachusett word mugquomp (leader, great man). Massachusett is a language in the Algonquian language family. The word was used in 1884 to describe a Republican who refused to support their candidate, James Blaine, who had a reputation for corruption. These mugwumps supported Grover Cleveland, making him President of the United States.
The word showed up in the mid-1800s.
Pronounced: MUG-wump, noun
Notes: I’ve run across this word, but couldn’t define it properly
The word pinder refers to a peanut.
This word, according to the dictionary I looked it up in, says that it is primarily used in South Carolina. The word itself comes from the Bantu language in Africa; the peanut itself is native to South America (not the United States), and was first taken to Africa, where it acquired this name (among others). It was then brought to North America. Other words for peanut are “groundnut”, “earthnut”, and “goober” (or as I heard it in grade school, “goober pea”). Like pinder, “goober” comes from the Bantu language.
This word showed up in the late 1690s
The word dyspepsia was a borderline case: I was pretty close to the meaning, although there is a sense of the word that I wasn’t aware of, but I still decided not to use it.
Pronounced: PIN-der, noun
Notes: This is a word I’ve never heard (that I know of); I ran across it while reading the definition of another word
The word hebetude means “lethargy, dullness”.
This word comes from Late Latin hebetudo (dullness, bluntness). This derives from the Latin root hebes (dull).
The word first showed up in the early 1600s
I knew the meaning of inane, so it didn’t make the cut