Whether this word is spelled wendigo or windigo (preferred), the only attested pronunciation in reputable dictionaries is WIN-di-goh, as illustrated by this couplet by Ogden Nash: "The Wendigo, The Wendigo! Its eyes are ice and indigo!" — The Orthoepist
The German equivalent of the French (and now English) esprit de l'escalier (literally, "spirit of the staircase"). Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It, where both terms are defined as a "clever remark that comes to mind when it is too late to utter it." Other coinages for this concept include retrotort and stairwit.
Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "little wholes that make up larger wholes." Rheingold notes: "Basic Gestalt psychology theory is based on the premise that all experience consists of Gestalten -- integrated structures or patterns that must be apprehended as wholes rather than disconnected parts."
Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "little wholes that make up larger wholes." Rheingold notes: "basic gestalt psychology theory is based on the premise that all experience consists of Gestalten -- integrated structures or patterns that must be apprehended as wholes rather than disconnected parts."
Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "flustered to the point of incompetence"; being in "a temporary state of inexactitude and sloppiness that is elicited by another person's nagging."
Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "elementary thoughts of humankind," such as fairy tales and folk wisdom; anything that deals with the primordial themes of life and the collective unconscious.
Literally, "dragon fodder." Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "peace offerings for wives from guilty husbands." Reingold notes: "At one point it was common in Germany to see men drinking in bars and cafes on Saturday afternoons with their Drachenfutter already bought and wrapped in anticipation of the night ahead."
After Borachio, a drunken follower of Don Juan in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. But the word had already entered English, in the leather wine bottle or bag sense, shortly before Shakespeare appropriated it for his character. — The Orthoepist
OED: That roars loudly; noisy, boisterous. 1824 Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. 15 675 We leave that‥to critics of a more polyphloisboian note. 1858 O. W. Holmes Autocrat of Breakfast-table iv, Two men are walking by the polyphlœsbœan ocean. 1881 Fortn. Rev. No. 179. 560 The unreliable, erratic, polyphloisbean Loewenbruk also put in an appearance. 1997 D. Albright Quantum Poetics ii. 200 A genuinely polyphloisboian line would have been wholly out of place in this poem.
What I've recorded here is, of course, a speculative pronunciation of a nonce-word (which, etymologically speaking, would be better spelled “-hippopo-”). It's heavily dactylic, which I like, but if you can come up with a more mellifluous variant, please record it. — The Orthoepist
"'I have never smelled anything like it, with the possible exception of a beached whale,' Twain went on, warming to his subject. 'It was rancid, rank, and malodorous beyond words. It would incite rebellion in a gasometer.'" — Test of Time by Charles Harrington Elster
Come on, Wiktionary: "Alternative spelling of 'asinine,'" my foot! As any writer, editor, copyeditor, proofreader, English teacher, and decent dictionary will tell you, "There is no 'ass' in 'asinine.'" This takes descriptivism to new and asinine heights.
According to the writer’s own instructions, the first name rhymes with “redeemer” and the last name should be stressed on the second syllable (-bo-), which may be pronounced as I recorded it or with a long /o/ (as in “no”). — The Orthoepist
Hi guys, this is Charles Harrington Elster. Nice selection from my book, RitaG! I'm working right now on a companion to Verbal Advantage called Word Workout, which I hope will come out next year (2012).
FYI, rapprochement is misspelled above (no "a").
Re my creating lists — it's not in my contract with Wordnik, and I'm too busy recording pronunciations and writing notes, anyway.
Sorry, but I don't know the answer to that. I don't select or arrange the words of the day; I only record the pronunciations. It may be some sort of technical problem. Perhaps you should contact Wordnik Central.
Just as, I suppose, that there's nothing slovenly about saying liberry or nucular if that's what one acquired from one's upbringing. After all, as Merriam-Webster informs us, U.S. presidents and college presidents have pronounced these words that way.
Pronunciations acquired during one's upbringing (mine was in hardscrabble Queens, New York City) are not de facto standard. You may not agree with it or like it, but my job, as an orthoepist, is to discriminate for those who want to be discriminating speakers.
Quasimodo is a long-established holdover, no doubt because it's a name and we tend not to mess with the pronunciation of names (which is good). But loanwords tend to get anglicized (which makes sense), and once they have been it is generally inadvisable to re-adopt the foreign pronunciation (for example, the pretentious GRAH-tis for gratis). Again, KWAH-zee and KWAH-see are acceptable pronunciations, but they are de-anglicizations, which is why I said they have little to recommend them.
For what it's worth, the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation, which gives British and American pronunciations, lists KWAY-zy and KWAH-zee as British, and KWAH-zee and KWAY-zy as American.
As I explain in my Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations, the proper name Quasimodo is an exception. "Because Quasimodo is formed from the first words of the Latin Introit, Quasi modo geniti infantes ("As newborn babes . . ." 1 Pet. 2:2), it is pronounced either like the classical Latin, kwah-si-MOH-doh, or--more often in American speech--like the Italian, kwah-zee-MOH-doh."
KWAY-zee is unattested, milosrdenstvi, so I'd avoid that variant if I were you.
Re KWAH-see and KWAH-zee: I didn't mean to imply that there was something wrong or bad about them; they're common and standard pronunciations. But I think it's fair to ask why one would pronounce a Latin loanword that has been English since the mid-17th century in classical Latin or pseudo-Latin when there are two well-established anglicized pronunciations that dictionaries have listed first and orthoepists have preferred for many years.
I think you will agree, bilby, that it would be strange if we went out of our way to give all our Latin loanwords classical pronunciations. The variants KWAY-zy and KWAY-sy follow the English system of Latin pronunciation, which has long been the standard for anglicizing loanwords. As W. H. P. Phyfe explained it in 18,000 Words Often Mispronounced (1926), "Vowels, when ending accented syllables, have always their long English sounds, as pater (PAY-tur), homo (HOH-moh)."
I choose to follow this rule with quasi- because there is a great deal of lexical authority for doing so, and because, unlike yarb, I like the sound of it.
"Hemi-" and "demi-" should be HEM-ee and DEM-ee. "Quasi" is treated differently because it's a Latin loanword. The /a/ should be long, as in "quake"; the /i/ should be long, as in "sigh"; and the /s/ may be either soft, as in "rose," or hard, as in "case." Older sources generally prefer the hard /s/; most current ones prefer the soft /s/, which is my preference. The classical Latin KWAH-see and the pseudo-Latin KWAH-zee are recognized by dictionaries but have little to recommend them.
After the traditional American and British UNG-gwent, the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English (2003) records a recent British variant, UNG-gyu-wunt, that does not appear in the second edition of the OED (1989). The best that can be said of it is that it's an overpronunciation. The variant UN-jent in Merriam-Webster is preposterous, but M-W is infamous for sanctioning eccentric and stigmatized pronunciations that other dictionaries ignore. — The Orthoepist
Planemo is an acronymic rendering of the initialism PMO (planetary mass object). It was coined by Professor Gibor Basri, an astronomer at UC Berkeley. "I think I came up with it in about 2005," Prof. Basri told me. "It appears in my review article in 2006: 'Planetesimals to Brown Dwarfs: What is a Planet,' 2006, Ann. Rev. Earth & Planetary Sci., 34, 193, Basri, Brown." — The Orthoepist
I believe firmly that in cultivated speech, with and words beginning with it — withal (with-ALL), withdraw, wither, withhold, within, without, withstand — should be pronounced with the “voiced” th of bathe, lather, and rather, and not with the “voiceless” th of path and bath. One advantage of following this guideline is stronger, clearer speech. The voiced th is resonant; the voiceless th is lispy and weak. This is an avowed pet peeve of mine, and by no means do all authorities agree with me on this punctilio, though many do. — The Orthoepist
I prefer -tee- for the second syllable of this word (and others beginning with the prefix anti-), and the evidence of my ears says this has been the dominant pronunciation in cultivated American speech for some time. The variant with short i as in fit (listen to the American Heritage Dictionary’s pronunciation) appears in older and some current dictionaries but is far from prevalent in American speech today. In fact, the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation (2003) says the short i is British and -tee- is American. The variant with a long i in the second syllable (like tie) appears in dictionaries but is an overpronunciation. (“Don’t bother with long i” in anti-, the orthoepist Alfred H. Holt advised in his 1937 guide You Don’t Say. “Just rhyme anti- with panty.”) Also avoid pronouncing the antepenultimate syllable -bi- like be; say it like by. — The Orthoepist
In Comfortable Words (1959), Bergen Evans notes that axe for ask “is the old form. . . . The Anglo-Saxon verb was acsian. The modern pronunciation is the result of metathesis — which is a learned way of saying that the s slipped out of place.” Wyclif’s Bible, Evans reminds us, has “axe and it shall be gyven unto you.” Caxton, in 1490, spelled the past tense axyd. And as late as 1806 Noah Webster said he preferred axe. All of which is not to say that pronouncing this word /aks/ is correct, only that the common mispronunciation of “ask” today is vestigial. — The Orthoepist
Here is the entry for yolk in my Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations, second edition (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006):
The spelling pronunciation YOHLK, with an audible L, was Noah Webster’s preference in his dictionary of 1828 and the preference of several earlier English authorities. This was undoubtedly due to the variant spelling yelk, pronounced YELK, which Dr. Johnson (1755), Walker (1791), and Smart (1836) favored. Since Worcester (1860), however, the spelling yolk and the pronunciation YOHK have prevailed, while yelk has disappeared and YOHLK has fallen into disfavor.
According to the often risibly descriptive Merriam-Webster's Collegiate, 11th edition (2003) — which, after YOHK, lists the long-obsolete YELK in good standing — the L-inflected variants YOHLK, YAWLK, YAHLK, and YUHLK survive “in cultivated speech, especially Southern.” Some would laud such a catholic concept of cultivated speech; I find it nothing short of bizarre. Apparently I am joined in this opinion by the five other major current American dictionaries, which politely avert their gaze from all these aberrations and countenance one pronunciation: YOHK.
The OED has no entry for quomodocunquize, to make money any way you can, but it does have one for quomodocunquizing with a citation from Sir Thomas Urquhart in 1652: "Those quomodocunquizing clusterfists and rapacious varlets." — The Orthoepist
Rolig has the story of Apelles and the shoemaker right but is a bit off on the proverb. In his entertaining book Amo, Amas, Amat, and More, Eugene Ehrlich gives it as ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret, literally "the cobbler should not judge above the sandal," or more poetically, "Cobbler, stick to your last." — The Orthoepist
From Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 22nd edition (1972): "a morbid tendency to pun, make poor jokes, and tell pointless stories, while being oneself inordinately entertained thereby." The word comes from the German witzeln, to affect wit, and sucht, mania. — The Orthoepist
I coined this word in 1996 (in my book There's a Word for It) from the Greek kakos, bad, the Latin spectare, to look at carefully, and -mania, compulsion. It denotes the inability to refrain from staring at something repugnant, or the compulsion to examine something disgusting.
"One minor curiosity of the project was the discovery, against all expectations, that a few members of the Oxford English Dictionary staff had no stomach for the crudities of sexual and scatalogical vocabulary. I had assumed from the beginning that Homo lexicographicus was a chalcenterous species of mankind, that is, a person with bowels of brass." -- Robert Burchfield, Unlocking the English Language.
Definition from There's a Word for It by Charles Harrington Elster: "A method of reading character (or assessing experience) by examining the heels and soles of shoes."
Citation in the Century Dictionary (1914 ed.), from Science, VIII, 185: "La Graphologie, a French journal, describes a new method of reading character, known as 'scarpology.' It consists in a study of the heels and soles of shoes."
Ideally, dour should rhyme with poor. The /ou/ may also be pronounced like the /oo/ in look. These are the traditional pronunciations. But in the past 60 years a spelling pronunciation rhyming with sour has risen to prominence, and despite all orthoepic admonitions that may well be the future for this word.
This word is more elegantly, and helpfully, printed with a dieresis (dy-ER-uh-sis: two dots, like an umlaut) over the first /e/ to show that it is pronounced separately from the preceding /o/. — The Orthoepist
N.B. "Niffy," malodorous, is distinguished from "niffy-naffy," trifling ("He made no niffy naffy work" in the examples), which Webster's New International, second edition (1934), labels Scottish and dialectal English.
Curiouser and curiouser, ruzuzu. Maybe Bryan changed his mind because of Am. usage patterns favoring -or. But you'll have to take it up with the man himself at email@example.com. For my money, since this is a literary and not a strictly legal word, the regular agent suffix -er is preferable to the legal -or (which tends to be annoyingly overpronounced like "or" rather than the normal "ur" we hear in "actor" and "sailor").
Black's Law Dictionary, eighth edition, which Garner edited, gives contemnor as the headword and contemner as the alternative spelling. I'll record pronunciations for lessee, condemnor, and et seq. today.
Many thanks, ruzuzu. If you (by which I mean both ruzuzu and y'all out there) have any pronunciation or usage questions, I'm here to help. And please let me know if you want me to record pronunciations for any words.
Please see my note on the pronunciation page for "Caribbean" (be sure to type a capital C). And for more detailed information, read the entry on this word in my Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations (p. 78-9).
N.B. to those speakers who say or were taught to say ek-ZEE-muh (or eg-), with stress on the second syllable and a long e as in see. This variant has been heard since the 19th century, but there is no etymological basis for it, medical references from the 19th century to the present have ignored it, and numerous authorities have frowned upon it: e.g., “The pronunciation ek-ZEE-muh, though common, is contrary to the Latin accentuation” — Webster’s New International Dictionary, 1909; “eczema . . . is pronounced EK-ze-ma, not eg-ZEE-ma,” John B. Opdycke, Don’t Say It, 1939. Although you will find it listed in current dictionaries, second-syllable stress remains distinctly second-class, and modern authorities do not countenance it.
N.B. to cbbudman, regarding the line you saw over the medial e in "earlier dictionaries": I'm guessing that you consulted one or more of the G. & C. Merriam dictionaries, which used a horizontal line with a short vertical stem to indicate the lightened sound of e in words like event and serene. It looks a bit like a macron (the long-e mark) but it isn't.
The pseudo-French pronunciation recorded by john is unattested. In the sense of "tree branches" ramage dates back in English to the mid-1600s, and its pronunciation has long been anglicized. Ramage should rhyme with damage. — The Orthoepist
"All right, here's one I'll bet you can use: philodox. "Fill a what?" "Philodox. From the Greek philo-, loving, and doxa, opinion. It means someone in love with their own opinions, a person who's dogmatic, who makes categorical assertions. "Now there's a useful word!" Twain exclaimed. "I'll have to add it to my characterization of that pontificating rascal Bret Harte." — from Test of Time, by Charles Harrington Elster
"These was all nice pictures, I reckon, but I didn't somehow seem to take to them, because if ever I was down a little, they always give me the fan-tods." -- Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884. The earliest citation in the Dictionary of American Regional English is from 1876.
Don't say NOO-kyuh-lur (as "uselessness" did), as if the word were spelled "nucular." This variant has long been "a much-derided aberration" (Richard Lederer), and current dictionaries, which rarely stigmatize pronunciations, call it "unacceptable" and "incorrect." Take care to say "nuclear" like "new" + "clear": N(Y)OO-klee-ur. -- The Orthoepist
"Diffuse" and "defuse" are not interchangeable, and the former is now often misused for the latter. The following is from my book THE ACCIDENTS OF STYLE, which will be published by St. Martin's Press this August:
If your intended meaning is “to spread out, scatter, or disseminate,” use diffuse. Lamps diffuse light. The sun diffuses fog. And kindergarten teachers diffuse rudimentary knowledge while their sniffling, sneezing pupils diffuse germs.
If your intended meaning is “to make something less harmful or troublesome,” use defuse. You can defuse a bomb, render it harmless, or defuse a ticklish or potentially explosive situation.
"Maritorious," formed from Latin "maritus," husband, is indeed a word (albeit obsolete); it means excessively fond of one's husband. It's listed in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and the second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary.