abstract or metaphysical.
Transcendental “abstract or metaphysical” ultimately derives by way of Medieval Latin from the Latin verb trānscendere “to surmount,” a compound of the preposition trāns “across, beyond” and the verb scandere “to climb.” Trāns is a distant cognate of the English terms thorough and through; as we learned from the Word of the Day togated, because of a phenomenon known as Grimm’s law, Latin t often corresponds to English th. The opposite of trāns is cis “on this side.” The verb scandere (with stems including scand-, scans-, scend-, scens-, and scent-) is the source of terms such as ascension, descent, and scansorial “capable of or adapted for climbing.” Transcendental was first recorded in English circa 1620.
It was raining, and our orchestra was warming up to play with a celebrated conductor in Massachusetts’ Berkshire mountains, steps from the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne …. I felt a transcendental whoosh of history and emotional connection with my surroundings, and as I drew purposefully scratchy sounds from my instrument … I kept my eyes locked on our guest maestro, a man of my parents’ generation who had likely shared colleagues with them.
a gentleman, especially a cadet of a ranking family, among the Highlanders of Scotland.
Duniewassal “a gentleman among the Highlanders of Scotland” is based on a compound of Scottish Gaelic duine “man, person” and uasal “noble.” Duine is a distant descendant of the same Proto-Indo-European root, dhghem- “earth,” which is the source of two types of words in the Indo-European language family: “earth” words such as the recent Word of the Day chernozem (literally “black earth,” from Russian zemlyá “earth”) and “person” words such as the recent Word of the Day hominid (from Latin homō “man, person,” related to humus “earth”). There are two theories behind the origin of uasal: one connects uasal to the same root as Latin augēre (stem auct-) “to increase” (compare auction and augment), while the other links uasal to the same ultimate source as Ancient Greek hýpsos “height” (compare hypsometer “an instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure and sometimes altitude”). Duniewassal was first recorded in English circa 1560.
The armies differed as markedly in weapons and armour as they did in culture and language. The Islanders were on foot led by their chief and clan gentry of duniewassals … clad in … chainmail and shoulder capers … padded and quilted coats, saffron-dyed and thickly pleated long shirts, and high, conical, iron helmets. The rank-and-file clansmen had little body protection apart from round shields and relied on their speed and agility, supported by the courage inspired by their ancient warrior culture.
There are hills beyond Pentland and lands beyond Forth,
Be there lairds i’ the south, there are chiefs i’ the north!
There are brave duniewassals, three thousand times three
Will cry “Hoy!” for the bonnets o’ bonnie Dundee.
verb (used with object)
to inspect, observe, or survey (the enemy, the enemy's strength or position, a region, etc.) in order to gain information for military purposes.
Reconnoiter “to inspect to gain information for military purposes” is an adaptation of obsolete French reconnoître “to explore” (compare modern French reconnaître “to recognize”). Reconnoître derives from Latin re- “again” and cognōscere “to know,” and as we learned from the recent Word of the Day gnomon, the gni-/gno- element, meaning “knowledge,” is found in numerous Latin-derived terms, from cognitive and recognize to incognito and ignorant. Reconnoître became reconnaître in modern French because of a spelling reform; by the early 1800s, the digraph oi had developed two different pronunciations—“eh” and “wah”—that caused ambiguity in writing. To rectify this shift, the 1835 edition of the Académie française’s dictionary of the French language changed the spelling of all words that contained the oi pronounced as “eh” from oi to ai. This also explains why the word connoisseur, which was borrowed into English a century before this spelling reform, retains the original French spelling while its modern French counterpart, connaisseur, reflects the reformed spelling. Reconnoiter was first recorded in English in the first decade of the 18th century.
The Enemy advanced Yesterday with a seeming intention of attacking us upon our post near Newport. We waited for them the whole day, but they halted in the Evening at a place called Mill Town about two Miles from us. Upon reconnoitering their Situation, it appeared probable that they only meant to amuse us in front, while their real intent was to march by our Right and by suddenly passing the Brandywine and gaining the heights upon the North side of that River, get between us and Philad[delphi]a and cut us off from that City.
Most undramatically, but crucially, [CIA operatives] were also taught how to reconnoiter restaurants .… As a space that is both public and private and relatively safe, the restaurant is an unshowy but invaluable cog in what the great spy writer John le Carré so eloquently calls “the grammar of intrigue.” It offers intelligence officers not only a place to exchange information (the envelope slid across the table; the briefcase switch; the taped message in the toilet tank) but a chance to evaluate their informants’ habits, temperament and coolheadedness, over a meal.