Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, March 18, 2022

polychromatic

[ pol-ee-kroh-mat-ik, -kruh- ] [ ˌpɒl i kroʊˈmæt ɪk, -krə- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

adjective

having or exhibiting a variety of colors.

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What is the origin of polychromatic?

Polychromatic “exhibiting a variety of colors” is a compound of two Ancient Greek elements: the combining form poly- “many” and the adjective chromatic “pertaining to color.” Poly- comes from Ancient Greek polýs “many,” which is not to be confused with the similar-sounding word pólis “city.” Instead, the plural of polýs, polloí, is the source of the expression hoi polloi “the masses,” and polýs is a cognate of Latin plūs (stem plūr-) “more,” the source of plural and surplus. Chromatic derives from Ancient Greek chrôma “color” and also appears in compound terms isochromatic “having the same color” and monochromatic “having tones of one color.” Polychromatic was first recorded in English in the 1840s.

how is polychromatic used?

In July the Internet exploded with a photo of schoolchildren …. In the center of the image, a crouching girl in a yellow T-shirt holds a medium-sized turtle toward an adult taking a picture of the scene. Smiling classmates, dressed in matching white, green, red and blue T-shirts, gather around the girl and turtle …. [A] closer examination reveals that the many hues in the background and the children’s clothing are not real colors. The seemingly polychromatic image is actually black-and-white, overlaid with a thin multicolored grid.

Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik, "Chasing Rainbows,” Scientific American Mind, November 2019

Polychromatic displays became a global phenomenon soon after Italian pyrotechnicians, in the 1830s, leveraged metallic powders to create specific colors. From fizzling handheld sparklers to elaborately orchestrated displays, fireworks have been a part of celebrations for centuries.

Karen Gardiner, “These are 12 of the world’s most spectacular fireworks displays,” National Geographic, July 2, 2021

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

felicitous

[ fi-lis-i-tuhs ] [ fɪˈlɪs ɪ təs ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

adjective

well-suited for the occasion, as an action, manner, or expression; apt; appropriate.

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What is the origin of felicitous?

Felicitous “well-suited for the occasion,” based on the noun felicity “happiness; skillful faculty,” derives from Latin fēlīcitās “good luck, happiness.” Fēlīcitās comes from the adjective fēlīx (stem fēlīci-) “lucky, happy,” plus the noun-forming suffix -tās “-ness.” Fēlīx and its descendants in modern Romance languages show a common pattern, namely, that a word for “lucky” in a mother language eventually gains the additional sense of “happy,” and either the “happy” sense alone or, less often, both senses are preserved in a daughter language. We can see this tendency when we compare Latin fēlīx “lucky, happy” with Spanish feliz “happy” and Italian felice “happy, lucky” (though the “lucky” sense in Italian is only in certain contexts). A stronger example lies in the English language itself, in which happy derives from the noun hap “luck,” which is also the source of the verb happen. Felicitous was first recorded in English circa 1730.

how is felicitous used?

I have the desire in my photographs to link a still life to a landscape, so by photographing through the glass, I was able to render the water, and the sky, and the landscape as one scene. And I just tried to compose the fish into the landscape. So it’s a committed composition that the fish are swimming through and it’s just a matter of timing it and taking a number of frames of images. It was an idea that one of those frames would have the most felicitous composition, one that has the best relationship of the foreground to the background.

Sam Abell, as quoted in “Found: Reflections on a Japanese Fish Tank,” National Geographic, May 28, 2014

I have successfully made it to swimming holes that did, in fact, exist at the time of my arrival …. The swimming holes are what happen when the water pauses on its own and, entering into some felicitous arrangement with the rocks and soil, renders a space wide and deep enough to hold some stillness.

Jenny Odell, "The Magic of Swimming Holes," New York Times, August 17, 2019

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

bucchero

[ boo-kuh-roh, book-uh- ] [ ˈbu kəˌroʊ, ˈbʊk ə- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

noun

an Etruscan black ceramic ware, often ornamented with incised geometrical patterns or figures carved in relief.

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What is the origin of bucchero?

Bucchero “an Etruscan black ceramic ware” is a borrowing from Italian, though its roots trace back much further. Prior to Italian, bucchero was adapted from Spanish búcaro and, earlier, Portuguese púcaro “clay vessel.” Before Portuguese, púcaro ultimately derives from Latin pōculum “goblet,” but between these two points, the word may have passed through Mozarabic, a variety of Romance once spoken in the south of Spain. Mozarabic was not a language but rather a continuum of dialects descended from Vulgar Latin that developed in the regions of Spain under Moorish control and that Arabic heavily influenced. In this way, Mozarabic was for centuries an intermediary that allowed for numerous terms of Arabic and Latin origin to enter (or, in the case of Latin, to reenter) the Spanish language. Bucchero was first recorded in the late 1880s.

how is bucchero used?

Many scholars believe that the earliest bucchero evolved slowly from a type of impasto pottery made by the latest potters of the Villanovan culture, in other words the people who became the Etruscans. Other experts have noted the strong similarities between certain metallic (and ivory) shapes that may have influenced the development of early bucchero.

Richard Daniel De Puma, “The Meanings of Bucchero,” The Etruscan World, 2013

Another stellar piece is a circa 550-500BC blackware bucchero kantharos from Etruria. Distinctly burnished, bucchero is considered the signature ceramic of the Etruscans and was mostly used by the elite class. The bucchero offered by Apollo Galleries has been held in several prestigious European collections and was also sold by Christie’s London, in 1998.

"London’s Apollo Galleries welcomes New Year with Jan. 16 Ancient Art & Antiquities Auction," Art Fix Daily, January 05, 2022

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