And …

Recently, I noticed a new store in Moscow called Ampersand. According to their website, it’s an “Oil & Vinegar Tap House.” They offer infused oils and vinegar from around the world on tap, along with other specialty grocery items. But the name seems to stump some passersby. I overheard two people trying to pronounce it and wondering aloud what it could mean.

Ampersand is a fancy word for a common symbol … the “and” sign.

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photo, http://blog.dictionary.com/ampersand/

And, seems like it’s been everywhere lately … it popped up on Dictionary.com the other day when I was checking the spelling of some obscure word under a heading titled “What Character Was Removed from the Alphabet?”. Dictionary.com goes on to tell us that the symbol “&” was first used by Roman scribes in the 1st century, when they linked the two letters of “and” in Latin, “et,” in a kind of early shorthand. And the symbol was actually part of the alphabet in early English, coming after the Z at the end of the alphabet (X, Y, Z, &). But when reciting the alphabet, it was confusing to have the word “and” at the end … and … what?

So students reciting the alphabet used the words “per se” (by itself) to clarify: “X, Y, Z, and per se &.”

and-per-se-and … ampersand!

Winter Word Play

The tree’s up, the cookies are made, the stockings are hung with care … take a little break and get ready to decorate your winter vocabulary.

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I’ve gathered up a list of little-known terms tailored to the season, and I challenge you to wield them like ornaments, dangling one here and there in casual conversation. When friends and family give you puzzled looks, you can offer them the gift of your newfound knowledge.

Apricity (uh-prisitee): the sun’s warmth on a cold winter’s day.
As in: You can almost feel the apricity of a December afternoon when you look at the glow of sunlight on this lone leaf …

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Photo by Øyvind Holmstad via Wikimedia Commons

Brumal (broo-mul): indicative of or occurring in the winter.
As in: With the first snowfall, the birds began their brumal ritual of southward migration.

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Photo by Dawn Huczek via Wikimedia Commons

Frostwork: the delicate tracery formed by frost, especially on glass.
As in: We all marveled at Jack’s frostwork on the window when we awoke on Christmas morning.

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Photo by Schnobby via Wikimedia Commons

Hoarfrost (hohr-frost): the crystalline deposit of frozen water vapor formed in clear, still weather on vegetation, fences, etc.
As in: Hoarfrost adorned the garden with ruffles of lace.

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Rimy (rye-mee): covered with frost.
As in: Romanced by the beauty of the winter sunrise, she stepped outside and etched a heart upon the rimy wood of her porch railing.

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Photo by Gcardinal from Norway via Wikimedia Commons

Snow broth: freshly melted snow.
As in: It will be safe to drive to grandma’s today—there’s only snow broth left on the roads.

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Stiricide (steer-eh-side): literally means “the killing of icicles,” referring to the melting and crashing of icicles from rooftops.
As in: Don’t stand beneath the eaves, or you may fall victim to stiricide!

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Three-dog night: The name of the popular 1970s rock band is actually an old saying of contested geographic origin (Australian or Inuit—no one knows for sure) that describes a night cold enough to call three dogs into bed for warmth. A one-dog night is cold, a two-dog night colder, and a three-dog night? Brrrrr!
As in: This furry trio knew they would get to sleep in bed because it was a three-dog night.

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Photo by Beyonddichotomy via Wikimedia Commons

 

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