Archive | November 2011

The history of English in 10 minutes

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The longest English word to date?

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilico-
volcanoconiosis

/ˌnjuːmənəʊˌʌltrəˌmʌɪkrə(ʊ)ˈskɒpɪkˌsɪlɪkəʊvɒlˌkeɪnəʊˌkəʊnɪˈəʊsɪʃ, njʊˌməʊnəʊ-/

[ mass noun ] an artificial long word said to mean a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust.

[VA] 3. digress

digress (/dɪˈgrɛs/ or /daɪˈgrɛs/)

  • To wander, stray from the point, ramble, deviate, go off in another direction.
  • digress comes from the Latin dīgress-us, which in turn comes from the prefix dis (apart) & gradi (to go, walk, step). Digress literally means to go apart, walk away. From the same Latin source come ingress (the place you walk in – the entrance), and egress (the place you walk out – the exit).
  • digress once was used of a physical wandering or turning aside, but that sense is now archaic (which means old-fashioned). Today we do not say ‘She turned right and digressed down main street.’ Instead, digress is used of speaking or writing that departs from the main point or subject at hand and wanders off in another direction.
    • In a business report or an oral presentation, it’s important to stick to the facts and not digress.
    • If she hadn’t digressed so much, her lecture would have been more interesting.
  • The corresponding noun is digression
    • The old man’s story was full of humorous digression.

[VA] 2. ostensible

ostensible (Brit. /ɒˈstɛnsᵻbl/ , U.S. /əˈstɛnsəb(ə)l/)

  • Apparent, appearing or seeming to be true, professed or declared as true without being demonstrated or proved.
  • More difficult synonyms of ostensible includes plausible, and specious. Specious, however, has the negative suggestion of using deception to make something false appear true. A specious argument is one that looks good on the surface, but is flawed underneath.
  • Ostensible is often used in opposition to real or actual. An ostensible motive is not necessarily a real motive, an ostensible advantage is not necessarily an actual advantage.