apricot · /AY-pri-kot/ · /ˈeɪprɪˌkɒt/. noun. Formerly apricock or abrecock. The stone fruit of the Himalayan tree Prunus armeniaca, of the rose family. The tree itself. The color of the fruit. ¶ From Catalan abercoc and Portuguese albricoque, from Arabic al-birquq, through Byzantine Greek berikokkia, from Latin praecoquum (early-ripening fruit) … from which we also get the word precocious. ¶ The original Proto-Indo-European root pekw- is the source many other words including: kitchen, pumpkin, biscuit, charcuterie, ricotta, kiln and (dys)peptic.[Read more…]
Wellerism /WEL-ər-izm/. noun. An expression combining an obvious statement—usually a well-known cliche, quotation or proverb—followed by a facetious addition. A canonical example: “I see, said the blind man,” which exists in myriad forms. Named after Sam Weller, a comic character in Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, prone to making this kind of statement, for example, “There; now we look compact and comfortable, as the father said ven he cut his little boy’s head off, to cure him o’ squintin’.” Unlike the “sarcastic interrogatives”explored here last week, Wellerisms have been clearly documented in other languages, such as in the Dutch, “Alles met mate, zei de kleermaker en hij sloeg zijn vrouw met de el,” which translates into English as, “everything should be done measuredly, said the tailor and he hit his wife with a ruler.”
carnage /KAR-nəj/. noun. Extensive, indiscriminate slaughter, most often of human beings. A collection of carcasses. From French carnage, from Italian carnaggio (murder, slaughter), from Latin carnaticum (slaughter of animals), from carnum (flesh). Various sources note that “[Robert] Southey tried to make a verb of it,” so I’ve included that example as well.
cicurate /SIK-yoo-rayt/. verb. To tame; to make mild; to reclaim from the wild. From Latin cicur (tame).
fustian /FUS-chən/. adjective or noun. A pompous, bombastic style of writing or speaking. Also, a coarse family of twilled fabric that includes moleskin, velveteen and corduroy. From Old French fustaigne, from Medieval Latin fustaneum (staff, stick, cudgel), a loaned translation of Greek xulinos (made of cotton).
foehn (fohn, föhn) /fən/. noun. A warm, dry wind blowing down a mountain valley, specifically the north side and usually referring to the Alps. See also: katabatic, a wind on the lee, or sheltered side of a mountain. Borrowed from German. From Latin Favōnius (the west wind; a wind god).