Word of the Day: 11/30/15 – 12/4/2015

Happy Monday! I hope you’re either well rested from a week of family, friends, and food, or at least have enough yummy leftovers to get you through today and this week. Here is Wordsmith’s explanation of the week’s words:

“A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, but in the case of the artist Leah Palmer Preiss’s illustrations it’s worth a million, or more. As in previous years, I gave her five words and she used the gramarye of her colors to make a painting illustrating each word as you’ll see this week.

Also, this year, Leah has completed painting words from all 26 letters of the alphabet. Look for them at the end of the week. Reach her at (curiouser AT mindspring.com) or at her website.”

gramarye (GRAM-uh-ree)

noun: occult learning; magic

From Old French gramaire (grammar, book of magic), from Greek gramma (letter). Ultimately from the Indo-European root gerbh- (to scratch), which also gave us crab, crayfish, carve, crawl, grammar, program, graphite, glamor, anagram, paraph, and graffiti. Earliest documented use: 1320

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“There is naught of the power of gramarye in you. If there were, you would know it.”
Cecilia Dart-Thornton; The Lady of the Sorrows; Pan Macmillan; 2003

quacksalver (KWAK-sal-vuhr)

noun: a quack: one pretending to have skills or knowledge, especially in medicine

From obsolete Dutch (now kwakzalver), from quack (boast) + salve (ointment). Earliest documented use: 1579

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“In Elizabethan times nutmeg … was trumpeted by the physicians and quacksalvers as a sovereign remedy against the plague.”
Charles Nicholl; Scary Tales of an Old Spice World; The Independent (London, UK); Feb 20, 1999.

Notes (from Wordsmith)
Did the quacksalver hawk their concoctions of quicksilver (mercury) as a panacea to earn the name quacksalver? While the connection with quicksilver is enticing, it’s their duck-like behavior while peddling the snake oil that gave us this colorful synonym for a charlatan. Imagine someone mounted on a bench, holding vials of solutions in assorted colors while claiming to cure everything from chronic back pain to pyorrhea to migraine, and you’d have a good idea of a quacksalver. In fact, this image is the source of another term for these cure-alls: mountebank.

viridity (vi-RID-i-tee)

noun: 1. the quality or state of being green
2. youthful innocence

From Latin viridis (green). Earliest documented use: 1430

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“Penobscot Bay shimmered blue against the viridity of the forested hills in a true postcard moment.”
Mary Ann Anderson; Of Moose and Men: Maine’s Central Coast; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; Aug 16, 2009.

yobbery (YOB-uh-ree)

noun: rowdy, destructive behavior by the youth

From yob (a rowdy youth), coined by reversing the spelling of the word boy. Earliest documented use: 1974

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“A police crackdown on yobbery during the Bonfire Night period in Stirlingshire proved effective. Police report the number of calls concerning antisocial behaviour between October 30 and November 6 were down by over a third.”
Yobs Getting the Message; Stirling Observer (UK); Nov 13, 2013.

xenophile (ZEN-uh-fyl, ZEE-nuh-)

noun: one who is attracted to foreign things or people

From Greek xeno- (foreign) + -phile (love). Earliest documented use: 1934

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“Mr. Hall, 30, admits to being a bit of a xenophile, so ‘getting to know new people is my thing anyway’.”
Linda Bock; Changing Face of Grief; Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts); Jan 10, 2010.

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