Tag Archives: science

umami

    MEANING   The noun umami denotes a category of taste corresponding to the ‘savoury’ flavour of free glutamates in various foods, especially protein-rich fermented and aged ones such as mature cheeses and soy sauce, specially the flavour of monosodium glutamate. Umami is sometimes described as a fifth basic taste alongside sweet, sour, salt, […]

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leap year

leap year

  The month of February in Poor Robin Almanack for 1796 (Sundays, Christian festivals and saints’ days are marked in red.)       MEANING   a year, occurring once every four years, which has 366 days including 29th February as an intercalary day     ORIGIN   The name leap year refers to the […]

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bissextile

bissextile

  image: Hub Pages       MEANING   (of a month or year): containing the extra day of a leap year     ORIGIN   The Latin bisextus (dies), also spelt bissextus, composed of bis, twice, and sextus, sixth, was the name given to the intercalary day inserted by the Julian calendar* every fourth […]

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supercilious

supercilious

    MEANING   displaying arrogant pride, scorn, or indifference     ORIGIN   This word dates back to the first half of the 16th century. It is a borrowing from the Latin adjective superciliosus, meaning haughty, disdainful, and censorious, severe. This Latin word was in turn derived from the noun supercilium, meaning an eyebrow, […]

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‘onyx’

‘onyx’

  photograph: Health This Year      MEANING   a semi-precious variety of agate with different colours in layers     ORIGIN   Via Anglo-Norman and Old French forms such as onix and onice (Modern French onyx), the English word is from Latin onyx/onych-. This Latin noun is from Greek ὄνυξ/ὀνυχ- (onux/onukh-), which literally meant […]

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ailurophile

ailurophile

      An ailurophile is a cat lover, and an ailurophobe is a person who has an intense fear of, or aversion to, cats. These words are based on ancient Greek ἀίλουρος (ailouros)*, also αἰέλουρος (aielouros), meaning cat, perhaps, as reported by ancient grammarians, composed of αἰόλος (aiolos), swift, and οὐρά (oura), tail**, the […]

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jejune

jejune

      The primary sense of the Latin adjective jejunus was fasting, hungry, abstinent. Figuratively, it meant dry, barren, unproductive, and scanty, insignificant in quantity. It was especially used in the following senses: – poor, barren, powerless – insignificant, trifling, contemptible, mean, low – of speech: meagre, dry, feeble, spiritless – destitute of, without, […]

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torpedo

torpedo

  1912 Fiat Type 3 torpedo     The original meaning of torpedo is a flat fish of the genus Torpedo or family Torpedinidæ, having an almost circular body with tapering tail, and characterised by the faculty of emitting electric discharges. It is also called electric ray, cramp-ray, cramp-fish and numbfish. The word is from Latin […]

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Geordie

Geordie

  A trainload of coal on the High Level Bridge in Newcastle photograph: Stephen Craven     Geordie was originally a Scots and northern-English pet form of the forename George. The Scots and northern-English diminutive suffix -die is a variant of -y added to words or curtailed forms of words ending in r, l, or n. […]

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nyctograph, typhlograph & noctograph

nyctograph, typhlograph & noctograph

  advertisement for ‘Wedgwood’s highly improved noctograph’ – circa 1842 The ‘noctograph’, originally patented in 1806 as a ‘Stylographic Writer’, was designed to help blind people write. The device used ‘carbonated paper’, made by soaking paper with printers’ ink. Once dried, the paper was fitted in the writing frame between two sheets of plain paper […]

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