Words (6/17 to 6/23)

The Dictionary.com “Words of the Day” for the past week, with that website’s definitions and word origins, and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s “first known use.”

6/17: Abut (verb) to be adjacent; touch or join at the edge or border. Origin: Abut relates to the Old French abuter, “to touch at one end,” but also verbally relates to “of a but to” the end of something, and perhaps derives influence from the English butt, or “ending.” First Known Use: 15th century

6/18: Eisegesis (noun) an interpretation that expresses the interpreter’s own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text. Origin: Eisegesis enters English in the 1900s in reference to Biblical studies as the opposite of exegesis, “critical interpretation of a text, especially the Bible.” First Known Use: 1892

6/19: Virilocal (adjective) living with or located near a husband’s father’s family. Origin: Virilocal combines the Latin roots Viri-, “man,” and -local, “of a specific place.” First Known Use: 1940s (Concise Oxford English Dictionary)

6/20: Yarely (adverb) with quickness or agility. Origin: Yarely is based on the Old English word gearu, meaning “ready.” First Known Use: Before 12th century

6/21: Pullulate (verb) to exist abundantly; swarm; teem. Origin: Pullulate derives from the Latin pullulatus, “to grow or sprout,” and relates to the Latin noun pullus, “a young animal.” First Known Use: 1619

6/22: Xenogenic (adjective) to be completely different from either parent, or from the source of an object’s creation. Origin: Xenogenic combines the Greek roots xeno-, “strange, or other,” and -genic, “produced or caused by.” First Known Use: 1961

6/23: Jujitsu (noun) the ability to accomplish a task with no apparent effort or resistance. Origin: Jujitsu comes from the Japanese martial art of the same name, with the word being a combination of ju, “soft,” and jitsu, “technique.” First Known Use: 1875

The mutant xenogenic skin grafts which abutted the man’s forearm yarely pullulated, killing off old cells in a hostile takeover before completely remaking the man’s body and mind.

We have a nice variety of parts of speech this week. Unfortunately for our purposes, though, there are also a lot of quirky words in this bunch, and it would be difficult to make use of many of them.

Perhaps abut and jujitsu are the most likely to be used in non-technical writing, and maybe also virilocal.

As for yarely and pullulate, a writer would be wise to use simply the words in the definitions rather than those highfalutin terms (but don’t take that as an absolute prohibition; if you can pull it off, go for it).

Xenogenic and eisegesis are used in specialized writing (medical and hermeneutic, respectively). Xenogenic, which can also be spelled xenogeneic, is a term with a very interesting definition, even though it is most often used in reference to medical transplants. It would be my favorite word of the bunch if it weren’t for jujitsu, which is just immensely fun to say; the prospect of using it without direct reference to martial arts is most intriguing.

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