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Monday word: hiemal, brumal

hiemal (ˈhaɪ ə məl) adj.

Of or relating to winter; wintry.  A synonym for 'hibernal' (think 'hibernate').

Etymology:  mid 1500s, from Latin hiems, winter.

brumal (bro͞o′məl), adj.

Of, relating to, or occurring in winter.

Etymology:  early 1500s, from Latin bruma, winter.

So, how do these words differ?  I'm not entirely sure....
I see online comments about hiemal meaning 'pertaining to winter' while brumal means 'belonging to winter'...which I suppose could be the distinction between "wintry" and "occurring in winter" in the above definitions.
Looking to the Latin...'hiems' might be related to snow; 'brume' might have originally meant something like "season of the shortest day" (winter solstice).

So I guess if I had to try to use them distinctively in a sentence, I'd say something like "I attribute the hiemal weather to the brumal time of year".
The weather here isn't hiemal yet...the picture below is from a couple years ago.  (Despite the red head, that's a red-bellied woodpecker.)

Saturday Word: Crèche

crèche [KRĕsh,KRĕysh]:
origin: (1785–95) French; crib.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This word is meant to call to mind the concept of being wrapped in safety & comfort -- and to my mind, hope too; it's applied to several specific definitions, although they combine well, since a person certainly can make a display of a grouping of orphaned animals which they care for:

1. British; A place for children to be cared for; a nursery or orphanage. A creche is especially valuable as a way to free women to work.

2. Any tableau of the baby Jesus surrounded by his mother Mary, her companion Joseph, and the Wise Men (or Maji) amid the barnyard animals of the famous "Nativity scene" from the Christian religion.

3. Newly founded or formed, example: a crèche director or care facility.

4. Animal nursery; groupings of baby animals, cared for communally by adults in secure locations (examples: bats, penguins, wolf pups). Pet crèches have become popular in India!

Friday phrase: mirabile dictu

mirabile dictu

mi·ra·bi·le dic·tu

(mĭ-rä′bĭ-lē dĭk′to͞o)
Wonderful to relate, amazing to say. Used to refer to something surprising.

Related phrase: mirabile visu--"wonderful to see"

[Latin mīrābile dictū : mīrābile, neuter sing. of mīrābilis, wonderful + dictū, ablative sing. supine of dīcere, to say.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition.

References in classic literature ?
And then, mirabile dictu, between the piers, leaping from wave to wave as it rushed at headlong speed, swept the strange schooner before the blast, with all sail set, and gained the safety of the harbour.

In the first place, mirabile dictu, there were one or two even greater duffers than I on the Abbey cricket-field.

And, mirabile dictu, not costing the government a dime.

Not only did FDR overlook the external evidence; FDR ignored the counsel of key experts at the State Department, which, at the time, was home, mirabile dictu, to an educated and experienced cadre of anti-Communists, or, better, Communist realists--yesteryear's "Islamophobes" --who would be neutralized and dispersed, purged, in two waves.

Yet he had to say, yes, of course, grab his cane, and swerve out into the parlor where mirabile dictu, no one was eating

An answer to a clue suggests itself to my subconscious, and I write it in (in light pencil)--and mirabile dictu it turns out to be right.
Innovation puzzles

(Source: thefreedictionary.com)

Thursday word: prolegomenon

prolegomenon (proh-li-GOM-uh-non) - n., an introduction, prefatory remark, esp. a formal essay that introduces and interprets the work that follows.

It seems I've been mispronouncing this -- I put the stress on the fourth syllable. Ah, well. First borrowed in 1652 in the sense of the learned preamble to a book from Greek, where it is the neuter passive present participle of prolegein, to say beforehand, from pro-, before + legein, to speak (the root of lecture). Preface is the exact same meaning, only from Latin roots.

Some people see death as a prolegomenon to another life.



Monday word: mews, mew

mews (myo͞os) noun
1. A group of buildings, originally containing private stables.
2. An alley or courtyard on which such buildings stand.

mew, noun
1. A cage for birds of prey, especially when molting.
2. A secret place; a hideaway.
3. A high-pitched cry, often from a cat.
4. A type of migratory gull (Larus canus).

Ok, so I think this is how it goes...

'Mew' as a place for hawks originated in the 1300s, from French muer, to molt.

'Mewes' was the name of the royal stables at Charing Cross, which were built in 1534 on the site of the former royal mews (where the hawks were kept).
From this use, we got the definition (around 1800) of 'mews' as "a street of former stables converted to human habitation".
'Mews' in that form is singular, even though the original 'mews' it's based on (the hawk cages) was plural.
And, the plural of 'mews' (the street) is...'mews'.

Mews (the street(s)) are most common in London.

In relation to the sound a cat makes, 'mew' is an imitative word originating in the late 1500s.
For the bird, the word is also imitative, of the sound the gull makes.
After all that, I'll just post a picture of a cat.

Friday word: Adulterate

adulterate, v. adul·ter·ate \ə-ˈdəl-tə-ˌrāt\

: to make (something, such as a food or drink) impure or weaker by adding something of poor quality

: to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance or element; especially : to prepare for sale by replacing more valuable with less valuable or inert ingredients


The company is accused of adulterating its products with cheap additives.


Latin adulteratus, past participle of adulterare, from ad- + alter other

First Known Use: 1531

Thursday word: bursiform

bursiform (BUR-suh-fawrm) - adj., shaped like a bag or purse.

Used primarily in anatomic and botanical contexts. Being male, what immediately comes to mind is a scrotum, but there are many more bursiform things, including flowers (such as the ladyslipper) and seed pods (none come to mind at the moment). This word was coined in the 1830s from Latin bursa, meaning purse or bag -- at the time, and through the middle ages, a purse was a bag, or rather pouch, worn at the waist. It's the same root as gives us bursar, the treasurer (modern term: chief financial officer) of a college or university.

Under the vine, in the way of the passage, hung several purple bursiform sacs, which when touched gave off a putrid scent -- an effective security measure against raiders.


Monday words: anosmia

anosmia (ăn-ŏz′mē-ə), noun
Loss of the sense of smell.

Etymology: Greek, an-, without, + osme, odor

Hyposmia is a lessened sense of smell.

NPR had a recent article on anosmia.

Friday phrase: bête noire

bête noire, n. \ˌbet-ˈnwär, ˌbāt-\, pl. bêtes noires

  1. : a person or thing strongly detested or avoided : bugbear

  2. Examples

     a politician who is the bête noire of liberal groups

    doing my own tax return is the bête noire that haunts me every April>


    French, literally, black beast

    First Known Use: 1828

Thursday word: fimicolous

fimicolous (fuh-MIK-uh-luhs, fai-MIK-uh-luhs) - adj., (Biology) growing in or on dung.

Or as my toddler calls it, poop *giggle*! This is used especially of fungi, but I assume it also applies to, say, the larvae of dung beetles, which live inside the ball of the stuff that their parents roll up and then lay eggs inside. Coined in 1874 from Latin roots fimus, dung + colere, to inhabit. First citation in the OED, from a treatise on fungus:

Only seven or eight ... do not occur on dung, whilst fifty-six are fimicolous.



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