Word of the Day: 12/28/15 -1/1/16

This is officially the last week of words of 2015. To go out with the old and in with the new, Wordsmith has selected five words that are first words in theological, financial, and other compositions. Enjoy this last week of the year!

paternoster (PAY-tuhr NOS-tuhr, PAH-, PAT-)

noun: 1. a sequence of words used as a formula, a charm, etc.
2. a continuously moving endless elevator that goes in a loop
3. the Lord’s Prayer; one of the certain larger beads in a rosary on which the Lord’s Prayer is said

From Latin pater noster (our father), opening words of the Lord’s Prayer in Latin. Earliest documented use: before 900

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“She trudged doggedly across the last field, inwardly muttering her paternoster.”
Christina Shea; Smuggled: A Novel; Grove/Atlantic; 2011.

“We’d ride the open-sided paternoster elevators and giggle at the scare they gave us.”
Mary Helen Dirkx; A Great Adventure in The Shadow of War; Newsweek (New York); Sep 13, 2004.

mittimus (MIT-uh-muhs)

noun: an official order to commit someone to prison

From Latin mittimus (we send), the first word of such an order, from mittere (to send). Earliest documented use: 1443

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“Problems with the mittimus have recently been blamed in hundreds of errors allowing early releases of inmates, including Ebel and Blecha.”
Kirk Mitchell; Beyond Bars; Denver Post (Colorado); Jun 12, 2013.

gaudeamus (gau-di-AHM-uhs)

noun: a convivial gathering or merry-making of students at a college or university

From the students’ song “De Brevitate Vitae” (On the Shortness of Life) whose first word is gaudeamus (let’s rejoice). Earliest documented use: 1823

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“I have apologized for not attending the Royal Society Club, who have a gaudeamus on this day.”
The Journal of Sir Walter Scott; Jan 1826.

debenture (di-BEN-chuhr)

noun: a certificate acknowledging a debt

From Latin debentur (they are due/owing), the first word in early certificates of indebtedness. From Latin debere (to owe), ultimately from the Indo-European root ghabh- (to give or to receive), which is also the source of give, gift, able, habit, prohibit, due, duty, adhibit, and habile. Earliest documented use: 1455

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“‘My dear Violet,’ Allen said, leaning over to be heard, ‘you must recall that Foster’s idea of fun is curling up with a debenture agreement that includes an especially ingenious reordering of priorities in bankruptcy.’”
David O. Stewart; The Wilson Deception; Kensington Books; 2015.

magnificat (mag-NIF-I-kat)

noun: 1. the hymn of the Virgin Mary in Luke, 1:46-55
2. an utterance of praise

From Latin magnificat (magnifies), the first word of the Latin version of the hymn that opens with “Magnificat anima mea Dominum” (“My soul magnifies the Lord”), from Latin magnus (great). Ultimately from the Indo-European root meg- (great), which is also the source of magnificent, maharajah, master, mayor, maestro, magnate, magistrate, maximum, magnify, mickle, mahatma, magnanimous, magisterial, magnifico, majestious, and hermetic. Earliest documented use: before 450

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“Upon this level of success in my life, I have enough reason to intone my magnificat in honour of various people.”
Charles Lwanga Mubiru; The Uganda Martyrs and the Need for Appropriate Role Models in Adolescents’ Moral Formation; Lit Verlag; 2012.


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