ostracize · /ˈɒstrəsʌɪz/ · /OSS-trə-size/. verb. To exclude or banish someone from society or a group. In Ancient Greece, to punish someone through temporary exile. Latinized form of Greek ostrakizein (to banish), literally “to banish with potshards,” reflecting the ancient Athenian practice of holding a public vote, scratching names onto a potshard or piece of tile, on the fate of dangerous or embarrassing people. If a majority voted so, the person would be banished for 10 years. Ultimately, ostracize is derived from the PIE root ost- (bone), which is the root of words such as ossuary and oyster.[Read more…]
palaver · /pəˈlɑ:və(r)/ · /pə-LAH-və(r)/. noun or verb. Tedious, pointless work. a meeting or conference. Voluminous, idle talk. Flattery. In West Africa, a dispute. From Portuguese palavra (speech, talk), from (via metathesis) Late Latin parabola (speech), from Latin parabola(comparison).[Read more…]
palaver /puh-LAV-ər/. noun and verb. A conference, dispute or contest (originally, primarily West African). Tedious, time consuming or idle talk or other activity. Loud or confused talk. Flattery. From Portuguese palavra (talk), from Latin parabola (a parable, words, speech). See also: bunk, bunkum, hokum, cajolery, wheedling, jabbering.[Read more…]
oppilate /OP-i-layt/. verb. To block, obstruct, stop up. Most of often pores or bowels. Noun: oppilation; adjective: oppilation. To remove such an obstruction is to deoppilate. From Latin ob (in the way, against) + pīlāre (to ram down, pack closely).[Read more…]
spoliate. verb. To plunder, rob or deprive. Legally, altering a document and making it invalid. In wartime, the authorized seizure of neutral vessels. A less common form of despoil. From Latin spolium (spoil).
cantillate /KAN-tə-layt/. verb. To recite or chant musically, usually a religious text. From Latin antillāre (to sing softly), from cantāre (to sing). See also: cantor and cantata.