Feature Word: Quixotic

Definition:

extremely chivalrous, romantic, and idealistic. Perhaps even delusional.

Description:

Derived from the Spanish literary character Don Quixote, this word captures his character’s essence. His comical misinterpretations of reality being at times funny, chivalrous, and ironic. He chooses to see things in the best light.

If something is ‘quixotic,’ it shares this unique quality with the literary figure.

Source:

dictionary.com

Pulchritudinous

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Definition:

possessing great physical beauty or appeal

Description:

Although it doesn’t seem to sound very pretty, this word means ‘beautiful’! The root of the word, pulcher, is Latin for “beautiful,” but the use as an adjective appears to be of an American origin, dating sometime between 1910-1915.

 

 

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Quixotic

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Definition:

extremely chivalrous, romantic, and idealistic. Perhaps even delusional.

Description:

Derived from the Spanish literary character Don Quixote, this word captures his character’s essence. His comical misinterpretations of reality being at times funny, chivalrous, and ironic. He chooses to see things in the best light.

If something is ‘quixotic,’ it shares this unique quality with the literary figure.

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Filibuster

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Definition:

1. (Political) a. The use of irregular or obstructive tactics by a member or members of a legislative assembly to prevent a majority-favored measure from passing.
b. An extraordinarily long speech or series of speeches that can stall procedure for days in order to accomplish the above.
c. A member of a legislature who makes such a speech.

2. (Military) A rogue individual engaged in illicit military conduct in a foreign land. Usually referring to U. S. citizens who helped to foment revolution in Latin America in the 19th century.

Description:

The word “filibuster” can be traced back to a label given to pirates who marauded trade routes in the 17th and 18th centuries.   It originated from the Dutch word vrijbuiter, which literally translates to  “freebooter,”  [vrij (“‘free’”) +‎ buit (“‘booty’”) +‎ er].

The term spread across Europe with the Spanish and French translating it into filibustero and filibustier,  respectively.

Americans adapted the spelling and pronunciation to “filibuster” and expanded the definition to include mercenaries engaged in illicit military actions against foreign governments, referring in particular to Southern adventurers in Latin America.

In the mid-1800s, “filibuster” became popular in the U. S. Congress as a euphemism for delaying or blocking the passing of legislation by taking advantage of the procedural rules to hold the floor for inordinate amounts of time.    Senator Huey Long (D-LA) demonstrated a particular talent for filibustering, reciting everything from Shakespeare to recipes for Southern dishes for up to 15 hours at a time.

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Stole My Thunder

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Definition:

To have attention or credit for an idea taken away from you

Description:

In the early 1700s, English critic and playwright John Dennis devised a new method of simulating the sound of thunder for his play Appius and Virginia.  The play was deemed a failure and its run at the Drury Lane Theatre was cancelled but Dennis’s invention caught on and was used in other productions without his permission, prompting him to protest.  His exact words are unconfirmed but it is generally accepted that he said something to the affect of:  “They stole my thunder!”

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Wowser

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Definition:

a fanatically puritanical person

Description:

‘Wowser’ is a delightful word with an interesting background, though its ultimate origin is unknown.

The word first appeared in print in 1899, in the Australian journal Truth, and was instantly popular in Australia. It rapidly spread to New Zealand, where it remains in use, and then eventually arrived in England, possibly brought by the Australian troops who served there during World War I.

The American writer and editor H. L. Mencken liked “wowser” and attempted to introduce it to the United States. He used the word frequently in American Mercury, the literary magazine he edited.

Despite Mencken’s efforts, however, the term never became particularly popular in American English; it is used occasionally, but it never truly caught on.

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