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galeanthropy (GAY-lee-an-throh-pee) - n., the delusion that one is or has been transformed into a cat.


Not a common mental condition, but enough examples have been documented to warrant coining the term from Greek roots galéē, weasel (also used sometimes for cats) + ánthrōpos, person.

---L.

anoa

Jun. 19th, 2017 07:39 am
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anoa (uh-NOH-uh) - n., either of two species (Bubalus quarlesi or B. depressicornis) of small wild Indonesian water buffalo with short, sharp horns.


I got tired of playing a word in Words With Friends without knowing what it meant. Found on the islands of Sulawesi and Buton, this is the smallest of the cattle family, living in the rain forest as they do, looking somewhat like deer in the body. Name is from a local language, but whether Makassarese or Buginese or Sulawesi, dictionaries disagree.

---L.
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pelargonium (pel-ahr-GOH-nee-uhm) - n., any of several southern African flowering plants (genus Pelargonium), the cultivated species of which are the geraniums.


Not to be confused with the plants of the genus Geranium, which were once considered part of the same genus. The pelargoniums are also called stork's-bills (after the shape of the seed-pod) while the Geraniums are also called crane's-bills -- a distinction that helps me not, as I have trouble telling cranes from storks just by the bill. The name was coined in New Latin from Greek roots Greek pelargós, stork + (gerá)nion, geranium, or stork's-geranium, to add to the confusion.

Pretty flowers, okay? -- and leave it at that.

---L.

fizgig

Jun. 14th, 2017 07:44 am
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fizgig (FIZ-gig) n., a firework or toy that makes a hissing or whizzing sound as it spins; a flirtatious or frivolous girl, something frivolous or trivial, a gewgaw.


The two main senses have separate etymologies. The latter is the earlier one, from Middle English gig, a frivolous woman, with an intensifier of unknown origin but possibly relating to Old English fist, the act of farting. The former is from gig in the sense of a whirling thing with a descriptive fizz.

---L.

attar

Jun. 13th, 2017 07:38 am
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attar (AT-er) - n., essential oils distilled from flowers or petals, esp. from roses.


Also, perfume made from such oils, and also (heavy) (botanical) fragrance in general. Borrowed in the 1790s from Persian 'atar, short for 'atar-gūl, attar of roses, from ʿatara, to smell sweet, from iṭr, fragrance, from Arabic roots. Yes, I know, those should be in Persian script, but the odor was too overpowering to work out how to include those.

---L.

mastaba

Jun. 12th, 2017 08:22 am
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mastaba (MAS-tuh-bah, sometimes mas-TAH-buh) - n., an ancient Egyptian tomb with a rectangular base, sloping sides, and a flat roof.


Usually constructed of mud bricks. It looks a little like a pyramid with the top lopped off, and pyramids developed from mastabas by continuing the slope up to a point -- so most mastabas were built during predynastic times or the Old Kingdom. Adopted from Arabic, where the name was derived from maṣṭaba, bench, especially a wide stone bench built into the wall of a house, from Aramaic maṣṭabtā, bench/dais, which may have been derived from Indo-European roots, including either Ancient Greek or Old Persian.

---L.

oont

Jun. 9th, 2017 07:48 am
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oont (OONT) - n., (Anglo-Indian, Australia) (coll.) a camel.


Apparently sometimes with the connotation of an attractive camel. Borrowed in the early 18th century from Hindi ū̃ṭ, from Sanskrit uṣṭra, camel.

---L.

basenji

Jun. 7th, 2017 07:37 am
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basenji (buh-SEN-jee) - (freq. cap.) n., a small, smooth-haired sight-hound of African origin with a tightly curled tail.


It is typically white + reddish-brown, though it can also be white + black or white + brindle, and it's often described as being unable to bark: its common vocalization is usually rendered "baroo." The home ground for the breed is the forests of the Congo River basin. The name comes from the fuller Lingala phrase mbwá na basɛ́nzi, literally bushland-people dog.

Basenji dog

---L.

solatium

May. 31st, 2017 07:59 am
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solatium (soh-LEY-shee-uhm) - n., (US & Scot law) compensation for emotional rather than physical or financial harm.


So, compensation for the trauma after the wrongful death of a relative, or for an insult. Literally, providing a solace: it's the same root, Medieval Latin sōlātium, variant spelling of sōlācium, which also arrived in English directly as solace. (Console is the same word with the intensifying prefix com-.)

---L.

scamorza

May. 30th, 2017 07:47 am
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scamorza or scamorze or scamorzo (ska-MOHR-tsah) - n., a firm, slightly salty, white Italian cheese.


Usually made from cow's milk (originally, buffalo) and formed into a round shape, and then tied up to dry, so that it ends up pear-shaped. Etymology is disputed, but one theory is an alteration of capa mozza, severed head.

---L.

hamfatter

May. 26th, 2017 07:28 am
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hamfatter (HAM-fah-tuhr) - n., (U.S. slang) a low-grade actor or performer; a ham.


Dates from the 1880s, from a negro minstrel show song "The Ham-fat Man," which itself is from the 1850s. So the quality of performer as someone who uses blackface -- compare hambone, an unconvincing blackface dialect.

---L.
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longanimity (long-guh-NIM-i-tee) - n., patience endurance of adversity, forbearance, long-suffering.


This has been around longer than I thought -- I was expecting a 17th century borrowing from Classical Latin, but instead it's an early 15th century borrowing from Late Latin longanimitās, patience, from longanimis, patient/forbearing, from longus, long + animus, mind/soul. So, long-minded.

---L.

napery

May. 23rd, 2017 08:06 am
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napery (NAY-puh-ree) - n., household linens, esp. table linens.


From Middle French nappe, tablecloth (from whence napkin, a little version, also for wiping hands, but kept in the lap). In a large medieval household, the naperer was in charge of washing and storing the linens (contrast launderer, who washed/stored the clothing), and the surname Napier was originally a naperer.

---L.
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rebarbative (ree-BAHR-buh-tiv) - adj., repellent, fearsome; causing aversion, annoyance, or irritation.


Nothing to do with hooks or spines, but rather facial hair: adopted in the 1890s from French rébarbatif, repellent/disagreeable, from Middle French rebarber, to oppose/stand up to, from Old French se rebarber, to stand beard to beard against, from re- + barbe, beard, from Latin barba, beard. So picture a medieval guy with unkempt chin pushing into your personal space -- that kind of repellent. Of course, I see it used of things like prose style, so what do I know.

---L.

univoltine

May. 19th, 2017 07:50 am
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univoltine (yoo-nee-VOHL-teen) - adj., having one brood or generation per year.


As opposed to more frequently: bivoltine, and so on. Semivoltine is a generation every other year. The word is used most often of insects, often to distinguish varieties. Adopted from French, from uni- + Italian volta, time/instance + adjectival ending.

---L.

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