Two long-time Pentagon stand-bys are fly-speckers and nit-pickers. The first of these nouns refers to people whose sole occupation seems to be studying papers in the hope of finding flaws in the writing, rather than making any effort to improve the thought or meaning; nit-pickers are those who quarrel with trivialities of expression and meaning, but who usually end up without making concrete or justified suggestions for improvement. [Collier's, Nov. 24, 1951]
A very early borrowing into English and said to be the only Latin nautical term used in the Germanic languages (German Anker, Swedish ankar, etc.). The unetymological -ch- emerged late 16c., a pedantic imitation of a corrupt spelling of the Latin word. The figurative sense of "that which gives stability or security" is from late 14c. Meaning "host or presenter of a TV or radio program" is from 1965, short for anchorman (q.v.).
"ungainly quadruped having tough, thick skin and usually one or two horns on the snout," once widespread but now limited to Africa and South Asia, c. 1300, rinoceros, "a rhinoceros," also "a horned beast, sometimes regarded as a species of unicorn" [Middle English Compendium], from Latin rhinoceros, from Greek rhinokerōs, literally "nose-horned," from rhinos "nose" (a word of unknown origin) + keras (genitive keratos, kerōs) "horn of an animal" (from PIE root *ker- (1) "horn; head").
What is the plural of rhinoceros? ... Well, Liddell and Scott seem to authorize 'rhinocerotes,' which is pedantic, but 'rhinoceroses' is not euphonious. [Sir Charles Eliot, "The East Africa Protectorate," 1905]
Medieval Latin used rhinocerota. The adjective also is unsettled: Candidates include rhinocerotic, rhinocerical, rhinocerontine, rhinocerine. The rhinoceros beetle (by 1680s) is so called for the large, upcurved horn on the head of males.
"sacred poem or song," especially one expressing praise and thanksgiving, Old English psealm (West Saxon sealm; Anglian salm), partly from Old French psaume, saume, and partly from Church Latin psalmus, from Greek psalmos "song sung to a harp," originally "performance on stringed instrument; a plucking of the harp" (compare psaltes "harper"), from psallein "play on a stringed instrument, pull, twitch" (see feel (v.)).
Used in Septuagint for Hebrew mizmor "song," especially the sort sung by David to the harp and collected in the Old Testament Book of Psalms. Related: Psalmodize. After some hesitation, the pedantic ps- spelling prevailed in English, as it has in many neighboring languages (German, French, etc.), but English is almost alone in not pronouncing the p-.
late 14c., ajusten, "to correct, remedy," from Old French ajuster, ajoster "add; assemble; calibrate, gauge, regulate," from Late Latin adiuxtare "to bring near," from ad "to" (see ad-) + Latin iuxta "next, close by," from suffixed form of PIE root *yeug- "to join."
In 16c. French corrected to adjuster, but the pedantic effort was rejected and Modern French has ajouter. Influenced in form and sense by folk-etymology, as if from ad- + iustus "just, equitable, fair." English reborrowed the word by c. 1600 in sense "arrange, settle, compose," from French adjuster "fit (things together) properly, put things in order." Meaning "to arrange (something) so as to conform with (a standard or another thing)" is from 1660s. Insurance sense is from 1755 (see adjuster). To adjust to "get used to" is attested by 1924. Related: Adjusted; adjusting.
The -d- to -l- alteration in Latin is the so-called "Sabine -L-"; compare Latin olere "smell," from root of odor, and Ulixes, the Latin form of Greek Odysseus. The Medieval Latin practice of writing -ch- for -c- before Latin -r- also altered anchor, pulchritude, sepulchre. The -y- is pedantic, from the former belief that the word was pure Greek. Earlier in the same sense was lachrymental (1620s). Middle English had lacrymable "tearful" (mid-15c.).
mid-14c., "shopkeeper," especially "pharmacist; one who stores, compounds, and sells medicaments," from Old French apotecaire (13c., Modern French apothicaire), from Late Latin apothecarius "storekeeper," from Latin apotheca "storehouse," from Greek apothēkē "barn, storehouse," literally "a place where things are put away," from apo "away" (see apo-) + thēkē "receptacle," from suffixed form of PIE root *dhe- "to set, put."
The same Latin word produced French boutique, Spanish bodega, German Apotheke. Cognate compounds produced Sanskrit apadha- "concealment," Old Persian apadana- "palace."
Drugs and herbs being among the chief items of non-perishable goods, the meaning narrowed 17c. to "druggist" (the Apothecaries' Company of London separated from the Grocers' in 1617). Apothecaries were notorious for "the assumed gravity and affectation of knowledge generally put on by the gentlemen of this profession, who are commonly as superficial in their learning as they are pedantic in their language" [Francis Grose, "A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1796]. Hence, Apothecary's Latin, barbarously mangled, also known as Dog Latin.
"common running garden plant," cultivated from earliest times in many Old World countries, also the long, fleshy fruit of the plant, late 14c., cucomer, from Old French cocombre (13c., Modern French concombre), from Latin cucumerem (nominative cucumis), perhaps from a pre-Italic Mediterranean language. The Latin word also is the source of Italian cocomero, Spanish cohombro, Portuguese cogombro. Replaced Old English eorþæppla (plural), literally "earth-apples."
Cowcumber was the common form of the word in 17c.-18c., in good literary use and representing the modern evolution of the Middle English form. Cucumber is an attempted reversion to Latin. In 1790s the pronunciation "cowcumber" was standard except in western England dialects and "coocumber" was considered pedantic, but 30 years later, with the spread of literacy and education "cowcumber" was limited to the ignorant and old-fashioned.
It was planted as a garden vegetable by 1609 by Jamestown colonists. Short form cuke is attested by 1977. Phrase cool as a cucumber (c. 1732) embodies ancient folk knowledge confirmed by science in 1970: inside of a field cucumber on a warm day is 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature. The sea-cucumber (1841) is so called for the shape of some species.
word-forming element expressing direction toward or in addition to, from Latin ad "to, toward" in space or time; "with regard to, in relation to," as a prefix, sometimes merely emphatic, from PIE root *ad- "to, near, at."
Simplified to a- before sc-, sp- and st-; modified to ac- before many consonants and then re-spelled af-, ag-, al-, etc., in conformity with the following consonant (as in affection, aggression). Also compare ap- (1).
In Old French, reduced to a- in all cases (an evolution already underway in Merovingian Latin), but written forms in French were refashioned after Latin in 14c. and English did likewise 15c. in words it had picked up from Old French. In many cases pronunciation followed the shift. Over-correction at the end of the Middle Ages in French and then English "restored" the -d- or a doubled consonant to some words that never had it (accursed, afford). The process went further in England than in France, where the vernacular sometimes resisted the pedantic, resulting in English adjourn, advance, address, advertisement (Modern French ajourner, avancer, adresser, avertissement). In modern word-formation sometimes ad- and ab- are regarded as opposites, but this was not in classical Latin.
"pertaining to the state of consciousness when awaking from sleep," 1897, coined by English man of letters Frederic W. H. Myers (1843-1901) from hypno- "sleep" + second element from Greek pompe "sending away," from pempein "to send" (see pomp).
Hypnagogic — Illusions hypnagogiques (Maury) are the vivid illusions of sight or sound—"faces in the dark," etc.—which sometimes accompany the oncoming of sleep. To similar illusions accompanying the departure of sleep, as when a dream-figure persists for a few moments into waking life, I have given the name hypnopompic. [F.W.H. Myers, "Glossary of Terms used in Psychical Research," Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. xii, 1896-97, supplement]
By hypnagogic paramnesia I mean a false memory occurring in the antechamber of sleep, but not necessarily before sleep. Mr. Myers' invention of the word "hypnopompic" seems to me unnecessary except for pedantic reasons. I take the condition of consciousness to be almost the same whether the sleep is coming on or passing away. In the dream I have recorded it is even impossible to say whether the phenomenon is "hypnagogic" or "hypnopompic"; in such a case the twilight consciousness is as much conditioned by the sleep that is passing away as by the sleep that is coming on. [H. Ellis, "A Note on Hypnagogic Paramnesia," in Mind, vol. vi, 1897]