Thursday, August 8, 2013

Words of the day

These two fit:

MUGGISH, MUGGY, a. 2. Moist; damp; close; warm and unelastic; as muggy air. [This is the principal use of the word in America.]

From Websterisms: A Collection of Words and Definitions Set Forth by the Founding Father of American English, ed. Arthur Schulman (New York: Free Press, 2008). An entry from Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828). Websterisms compiles 500 entries from the dictionary.
I found Websterisms yesterday in a campus bookstore in a nearby city, marked down from $23.95 to $5.00. The bookstore seems to be divesting itself of books: perhaps three-quarters of the stock was shelved as Bargain Books. The non-bargain shelves had the familiar look of the dying bookstore: books turned face front, with six or eight inches of empty space between them. Stranger still: Websterisms had a Daedalus sticker on its cover. I asked two employees what was going on: one was new and had never seen things looking different; another said that people mostly go for New York Times bestsellers. Yes, I wanted to say, but it’s a college bookstore. Or was.

It was a muggy day.

You can search the 1828 dictionary online, courtesy of the University of Chicago.

[The Oxford English Dictionary dates muggish to 1655; muggy, to 1728. Where do the words come from? Muggy comes from mug, “a mist, a fog; light rain or drizzle; a dull, damp, or gloomy atmosphere.” Mug, says the OED is “apparently” the source for muggish too, though the first citation for this meaning of the noun (also 1728) postdates the first citation for the adjective.]

comments: 2

Geo-B said...

Webster defined browse as,

"To eat the ends of branches of trees and shrubs or the young shoots, as cattle, or deer."

Alas, it is growing antiquated. "Scroll down" isn't as much fun as "browse." Or as illuminating.

Michael Leddy said...

I was surprised to discover that there’s significant interest in the 1828 dictionary among conservative Christians as a sound alternative to contemporary dictionaries. Says one site: “The English language has changed again and again and in many instances has become corrupt.” That same site uses the word browse in its figurative sense. And the word stats.