Word of the Day


pelagic \puh-LAJ-ik\
adjective: of, relating to, or living or occurring in the open sea : oceanic
Examples:
She is studying to become a marine biologist specializing in pelagic plant life.

“During this time we also have the seasonal migration of pelagic fish from the northern Gulf waters to the Key West area.” — Sam O’Briant, The News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida), September 21, 2014
Did you know?
Pelagic comes to us from Greek, via Latin. The Greek word pelagikos became pelagicus in Latin and then pelagic in English. (Pelagikos is derived from pelagos, the Greek word for the sea—it is also a source of archipelago—plus the adjectival suffix -ikos.) Pelagic first showed up in dictionaries in 1656; a definition from that time says that Pelagick (as it was then spelled) meant “of the Sea, or that liveth in the Sea.” Over 350 years later, writers are still using pelagic with the same meaning, albeit less frequently than its more familiar synonym oceanic.

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Word of the Day


Job’s comforter \JOHBZ-KUM-fer-ter\
noun: a person who discourages or depresses while seemingly giving comfort and consolation
Examples:
Danny, a reliable Job’s comforter, assured Shane that the girl who’d broken his heart had always been out of his league.

“It’s a blessing for me, he said, that my joints are frozen solid with the arthritis, because if I tried to run around like I used to, my heart would give out sure. I told him he was a Job’s comforter, what good is keeping my heart going like a watch that won’t tell time if I can’t get up and cook.” — Ross Macdonald, The Ivory Grin, 1952
Did you know?
Poor Job. He’s the biblical character who endures extraordinary afflictions in a test of his piety. He loses his possessions, his children, and his health. And then, to make matters worse, three friends show up to “comfort” him. These friends turn out to be no comfort at all. Instead, they say that the things that have been happening to him happen to all sinners—and point out a number of his faults. In the mid-18th century, English speakers began using the phrase “Job’s comforter” for anyone who offers similarly unhelpful consolation.

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Word of the Day


golden handcuffs \GOHL-dun-HAND-kufs\
noun: special benefits offered to an employee as an inducement to continue service
Examples:
It was in the company’s interests to offer Janice a set of golden handcuffs in the form of company stock, since her connections and knowledge of industry secrets would not be easy to replace.

“Coffey quit Moore Capital at the age of 41 to spend more time with his family having previously made his name, and a reported $700 million fortune, at GLG, where he turned down a $250 million golden handcuffs deal to stay.” — Jamie Dunkley, London Evening Standard, October 8, 2014
Did you know?
Chances are you’ve heard of a “golden handshake,” which is a particularly tempting severance agreement offered to an employee in an effort to induce the person to retire early. People started getting “golden handshakes” (by that name) around 1960; by 1976, English speakers had also coined the accompanying “golden handcuffs” to describe a situation in which someone is offered a special inducement to stay. The expression turns up often in quasi-literal uses, such as “slapped golden handcuffs on” or “a shiny new set of golden handcuffs.”

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Word of the Day


weal \WEEL\
noun: a sound, healthy, or prosperous state : well-being
Examples:
The president spoke of devotion to the common weal and the hope of creating a better country.

“‘Higher healthcare costs’? No one could be for that, so the campaign [against it] looks like a flag-carrier for the public weal.” — Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2014
Did you know?
Weal is most often used in contexts referring to the general good. One reads, for example, of the “public weal” or the “common weal.” The latter of these led to the formation of the noun commonweal, a word that once referred to an organized political entity, such as a nation or state, but today usually means “the general welfare.” The word commonwealth shares these meanings, but its situation is reversed; the “political entity” sense of commonwealth is still current, whereas the “general welfare” sense has become archaic. At one time, weal and wealth were also synonyms; both meant “riches” (“all his worldly weal”) and “well-being.” Both words stem from wela, the Old English word for “well-being,” and are closely related to the Old English word for “well.”

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Word of the Day


officious \uh-FISH-us\
adjective1 : volunteering one’s services where they are neither asked nor needed : meddlesome 2 : informal, unofficial
Examples:
Staff members view the new consultant as an officious individual offering unwanted feedback, but she is simply doing her job.

“During an interview this week with Morris News, Saxby, a Republican, said he is frustrated by the delay but attributes it more to officious federal bureaucrats than to partisan gamesmanship.” — Carla Caldwell, Atlanta Business Chronicle, April 2, 2014
Did you know?
Don’t mistake officious for a rare synonym of official. Both words stem from the Latin noun officium (meaning “service” or “office”), but they have very different meanings. When the suffix -osus (“full of”) was added to officium, Latin officiosus came into being, meaning “eager to serve, help, or perform a duty.” When this adjective was borrowed into English in the 16th century as officious, it carried the same meaning. Early in the 17th century, however, officious began to develop a negative sense describing a person who offers unwanted help. This pejorative sense has driven out the original “eager to help” sense to become the predominant meaning of the word in modern English. Officious can also mean “of an informal or unauthorized nature,” but that sense isn’t especially common.

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Word of the Day


leitmotif \LYTE-moh-teef\
noun1 : a melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation in a music drama 2 : a dominant recurring theme
Examples:
The overcoming of obstacles and a love of theater are the two leitmotifs of her autobiography.

“‘Collaboration’ is the author’s supporting theme, and he weaves it in throughout his anecdotes and character studies. Approached lazily, this kind of leitmotif would be more irritating than illuminating, but Isaacson fully commits.” — James Norton, The Christian Science Monitor, October 13, 2014
Did you know?
The English word leitmotif (or leitmotiv, as it is also spelled) comes from the German Leitmotiv, meaning “leading motive” and formed from leiten (“to lead”) and Motiv (“motive”). In its original sense, the word applies to opera music and was first used by writers interpreting the works of composer Richard Wagner, who was famous for associating a melody with a character or important dramatic element. Leitmotif is still commonly used with reference to music and musical drama but is now also used more broadly to refer to any recurring theme in the arts or in everyday life.

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Word of the Day


rife \RYFE\
adjective1 : prevalent especially to an increasing degree 2 : abundant, common 3 : copiously supplied : abounding
Examples:
After the newspaper’s managing editor was fired, speculation was rife about who would replace him.

“In the battle over Amendment 2, Drug Free Florida has decried the medical marijuana ballot initiative as being rife with loopholes.” — Dan Sweeney, The Sun-Sentinel (South Florida), October 15, 2014
Did you know?
English is rife with words that have Germanic connections, many of which have been handed down to us from Old English. Rife is one of those words. Not a whole lot has changed with rife in its 900-year history. We continue to use the word, as we have since the 12th century, for negative things, especially those that are widespread or prevalent. Typical examples are “shoplifting was rife” or “the city was rife with greed and corruption.” Rumors and speculation are also frequently described as “rife,” as well. But rife can also be appropriately used, as it has been for hundreds of years, for good or neutral things. For example, you might speak of “the summer garden, rife with scents.”

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Making A Difference With Young Caribbean Minds

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