verb1 : to deprive of possession or proprietary rights 2 : to transfer (the property of another) to one’s own possession
The city council rejected a proposal to expropriate private property for the highway expansion.
“The city spent nearly $50,000 to expropriate eight tracts that could be used for a potential studio expansion.” — Michele Marcotte, The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana), July 21, 2013
Did you know?
If you guessed that expropriate has something in common with the verb appropriate, you’re right. Both words ultimately derive from the Latin adjective proprius, meaning “own.” Expropriate came to us by way of the Medieval Latin verb expropriare, itself from Latin ex- (“out of” or “from”) and proprius. Appropriate descends from Late Latin appropriare, which joins proprius and Latin ad- (“to” or “toward”). Both the verb appropriate (“to take possession of” or “to set aside for a particular use”) and the adjective appropriate (“fitting” or “suitable”) have been with us since the 15th century, and expropriate has been a part of the language since at least 1611. Other proprius descendants in English include proper and property.
October 1, 2014
global village \GLOH-bul VIL-ij\
noun: the world viewed as a community in which distance and isolation have been dramatically reduced by electronic media (such as television and the Internet)
Thanks to crowdsourcing and the generous response of the global village, the couple received enough donations from strangers all over the world to pay their sick daughter’s medical bills.
“Adding fuel to each of these contagions is our ever-growing web of connections to the global village, with the virtual tethers now so much a part of our daily lives that they no longer surprise. Every Facebook user, in theory, is just a single friend request away from some 1.3 billion others.” — Clifton Leaf, Fortune, August 22, 2014
Did you know?
The term global village is closely associated with Herbert Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian communications theorist and literature professor hailed by many as a prophet for the 20th century. McLuhan’s mantra, “the medium is the message,” summarized his view of the influence of television, computers, and other electronic information sources in shaping society and modern life. By 1960, he had delineated his concept of the “global village,” and by 1970, the public had embraced the term and recognized the idea as both exhilarating and frightening. As a 1970 Saturday Review article noted, “There are no boundaries in a global village. All problems will become so intimate as to be one’s own….”
verb1 : to influence or entice by soft words or flattery 2 : to gain or get by coaxing or flattering 3 : to use soft words or flattery
Suzie wheedled the babysitter into letting her stay up an hour past her bedtime.
“I still make fruitcake, using a recipe that is mostly fruit and nuts and not much cake. My dad owned a locker plant and butcher shop, and wheedled the recipe out of a customer in the 1950s.” — Joan Daniels, Kansas City Star, August 12, 2014
Did you know?
Wheedle has been a part of the English lexicon since the mid-17th century, though no one is quite sure how the word made its way into English. (It has been suggested that the term may have derived from an Old English word that meant “to beg,” but this is far from certain.) Once established in the language, however, wheedle became a favorite of some of the language’s most illustrious writers. Wheedle and related forms appear in the writings of Wordsworth, Dickens, Kipling, Dryden, Swift, Scott, Tennyson, and Pope, among others.
adjective: extremely sharp or keen
The wit and keen insight found in her blog are a testament to her rapier mind.
“Mr. Brady was a veteran Republican aide and a popular figure among Washington journalists. He was equipped with a rapier wit and a buoyant charm that tended to defuse controversy even before he began working for the White House in January 1981.” — Jon Thurber, The Washington Post, August 5, 2014
Did you know?
A rapier is a straight, two-edged sword with a narrow pointed blade, designed especially for thrusting. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, “the long rapier was beautifully balanced, excellent in attack, and superb for keeping an opponent at a distance.” The word itself, which we borrowed in the 16th century, is from Middle French rapiere. The first time that rapier was used as an adjective in its figurative “cutting” sense, it described a smile: “Who can bear a rapier smile? A kiss that dooms the soul to death?” (“The Lover’s Lament” by Sumner Lincoln Fairfield, 1824). The adjective these days most commonly describes wit—an association that dates to the 1850s.
: a collapse (as of a society or regime) marked by catastrophic violence and disorder; broadly : downfall
There were those who worried that the latest civil war and attempted regime change would end in Götterdämmerung for the small country.
“One wishes, of course, for some sort of Götterdämmerung … in which the former victims rise up to give the monsters a taste of their terrible medicine. That’s what the movies are for.” — James Taub, Stars and Stripes, August 23, 2014
Did you know?
Norse mythology specified that the destruction of the world would be preceded by a cataclysmic final battle between the good and evil gods, resulting in the heroic deaths of all the “good guys.” The German word for this earth-shattering last battle was Götterdämmerung. Literally, Götterdämmerung means “twilight of the gods.” (Götter is the plural of Gott, meaning “god,” and Dämmerung means “twilight.”) Figuratively, the term is extended to situations of world-altering destruction marked by extreme chaos and violence. In the 19th century, the German composer Richard Wagner brought attention to the word Götterdämmerung when he chose it as the title of the last opera of his cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, and by the early 20th century, the word had entered English.
noun1 : a long discussion or meeting usually between persons of different cultures or levels of sophistication 2 a : idle talk b : misleading or beguiling speech
“I don’t know how you can stand to listen to that palaver,” said Rachel, as she switched off the talk show her brother had been listening to on the radio.
“The violinist Geoff Nuttall now directs the series, with a more contemporary sensibility in both programming and in the often corny introductory palaver carried over from the Wadsworth era.” — James R. Oestreich, The New York Times, June 4, 2014
Did you know?
During the 18th century, Portuguese and English sailors often met during trading trips along the West African coast. This contact prompted the English to borrow the Portuguese palavra, which usually means “speech” or “word” but was used by Portuguese traders with the specific meaning “discussions with natives.” The Portuguese word traces back to the Late Latin parabola, a noun meaning “speech” or “parable,” which in turn comes from the Greek parabolē, meaning “juxtaposition” or “comparison.”
noun1 : the use of a word to modify or govern syntactically two or more words with only one of which it formally agrees in gender, number, or case 2 : the use of a word in the same grammatical relation to two adjacent words in the context with one literal and the other metaphorical in sense
Jeannie held the door open for her unwelcome guest and, in a clever use of syllepsis, said, “Take a hint and a hike!”
“… it works as two words in one: She shot the rapids and her boyfriend. Syllepsis produces a surprise, almost requiring the reader to go back and reparse the sentence to savor the double meaning of the word.” — Jeanne Fahnestock, Rhetorical Figures in Science, 2002
Did you know?
Charles Dickens made good use of syllepsis in The Pickwick Papers when he wrote that his character Miss Bolo “went straight home, in a flood of tears and a sedan chair.” Such uses, defined at sense 2 above, are humorously incongruous, but they’re not grammatically incorrect. Syllepsis as defined at sense 1, however, is something to be generally avoided. For example, take this sentence, “She exercises to keep healthy and I to lose weight.” The syllepsis occurs with the verb exercises. The problem is that only one subject, “she” (not “I”), agrees with the verb. The word syllepsis derives from the Greek syllēpsis, and ultimately from syllambanein, meaning “to gather together.” It has been used in English since at least 1550.