|diˈmər| v.intr. ( -murred -murring raise doubts or objections or show reluctance normally she would have accepted the challenge, but she demurred. n. [usu. with negative the action or process of objecting to or hesitating over something they accepted this ruling without demur.

ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense [linger, delay] ): from Old French demourer (verb), demeure (noun), based on Latin de- ‘away, completely’ + morari ‘delay.’ (New Oxford American).

"Several Gulf states, including Qatar, are expected to demur from the prospect of a full-fledged union. Kuwait would have difficulty joining ‘with countries whose prisons are full of thousands who are guilty of speaking their minds,’ Kuwait’s parliament speaker, Ahmed al Saadoun, said in February 2011, referring to Saudi Arabia." Ellen Knickmeyer and Alex Delmar-Morgan, "Bahrain, Saudies to Clinch Ties" WSJ, 13 May 2012.


|oōˈtrā| (outréadj. unusual and startling in 1975 the suggestion was considered outré—today it is orthodox.

ORIGIN French, literally ‘exceeded,’ past participle of outrer. (New Oxford American)


"As the front man of Twisted Sister, Dee Snider brought mid-eighties America a particular brand of hard-living, high-glam joy. His golden tresses and garish makeup typified an outré conception of masculinity that was, indeed, twisted. In 1985, he went hair-to-hair with Tipper Gore, testifying in the Senate against a proposed warning system for offensive material, which he has continued to supply in spades." Michael Schulman, "Dee Snider Does Broadway,” New Yorker, 7 May 2012.


|ˈfiltər| ( Brit.philtren. a drink supposed to excite sexual love in the drinker.

ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from French philtre, via Latin from Greek philtron, from philein ‘to love.’ (New Oxford American)


"His article cites the reaction of the French literary critic Roland Barthes to a silent film starring Greta Garbo: ‘Garbo still belongs to that moment in cinema when capturing the human face still plunged audiences into the deepest ecstasy, when one literally lost oneself in a human image as one would in a philter, when the face represented a kind of absolute state of the flesh, which could be neither reached nor renounced.’" Tom Tugend, "Lust, spectacle on a biblical sense: Why we love silent films,” Jewish Journal, 2 May 2012.


|riˈkəmbənt| adj. (esp. of a person or human figure) lying down recumbent statues(of a bicycle) designed to be ridden lying almost flat on one’s back or sitting up with the legs stretched out in front; (of a plant) growing close to the ground recumbent shrubs; n. a recumbent bicycle.

DERIVATIVES recumbency n.;recumbently adv. 

ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin recumbent- ‘reclining,’ from the verb recumbere, from re- ‘back’ + a verb related to cubare ‘to lie.’ (New Oxford American)


"I was trying to figure out the draw of recumbent bikes, which I and many other hard-core cyclists have long looked down on. Recumbents, perhaps the most distinctive of all bike designs, require the rider to not so much ride as recline. There is no narrow saddle, but a wide chairlike seat that hovers between a few inches to about two feet from the ground. Pedaling is done in front of instead of below the seat." Sean Patrick Farrell, "A Struggle to Stay Upright (and Cool),” NYT, 13 Nov 2010 (Image: Egon Schiele, “Lying female act,” 1917)


|ˈfrouzē| (also frowsyadj. ( frowzier frowziest scruffy and neglected in appearance; dingy and stuffy a frowzy nightclub.

DERIVATIVES frowziness |-zēnis| n.

ORIGIN late 17th cent. (originally dialect): of unknown origin. (New Oxford American)

"As an exclusively Ford-flavored event, neither of Shelby’s most frowzy creations, the Dodge Omni GLH nor the Dodge Daytona Shelby Z, marred the occasion." Ronal Ahrens, "For 50th Birthday of Shelby Cobra, Vintage Snakes Convene in California,” NYT Blog, 23 Apr 2012.


|lim| v.tr. depict or describe in painting or words; suffuse or highlight (something) with a bright color or light a crescent moon limned each shred with white gold.

ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [illuminate a manuscript] ): alteration of obsolete lumine [illuminate,] via Old French luminer from Latin luminare ‘make light.’ (New Oxford American)


"I was directed to Lauren Anderson, ‘Innovation Director of Collaborative Lab,’ the book’s consultancy wing. (Because who could make any money just writing something nowadays?) Anderson’s pitch-perfect market-speak responses may limn the borders of sharing in our hardscrabble moment." Marke B. "What’s ours?" SF Bay Guardian, 3 May 2012.


|ˈsīdl| v.intr. walk in a furtive, unobtrusive, or timid manner, esp. sideways or obliquely sidled up to her; n. [in sing. an instance of walking in this way.

ORIGIN late 17th cent.: back-formation from sideling. (New Oxford American)

Hedgehog in the Fog

"After a recent event where I spoke about racial identity, a white woman sidled up to me, leaned in close so no one near us could hear, and said, ‘I’m racist.’ Many people would be repelled. I was entranced. Here was someone who could tell me first hand how the racist mind worked." Touré, Inside the Racist Mind,Time, 19 Apr 2012 (Image: from Yuriy Norshteyn’s Hedgehog in the Fog, 1975)


|inˈklemənt| adj. (of the weather) unpleasantly cold or wet.

DERIVATIVES inclemency n. ( pl. -cies).

ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from French inclément or Latin inclement-from in- ‘not’ clement- ‘clement.’ (New Oxford American)

cold and wet

“’Look at all the exciting sustainable future stuff going on here,’ Dougherty said. ‘It’s exciting to see all these people come out in this inclement weather to see all these vendors with their local products, and also the electric and hybrid cars. We’re really happy with the turnout.’” Leslie Ruse, “Turnout undampened,” Daily Record, 23 Apr 2012. 


|ˈg(y)oōˌgô| n. (usu. gewgaws)a showy thing, esp. one that is useless or worthless.

ORIGIN Middle English : of unknown origin. (New Oxford American)


"Fox loses the highfalutin stuff—not even a perfunctory nod to idealism, public service and any of that other idealistic gewgaw that news proprietors have at least pretended to encourage, if for no other reason than to help ill-paid editorial laborers get through the day (it could also be a kind of exaggerated slogan for the narrowed gaze of the business press)." Ryan Chittum, "The most important journalist in business news,” CJR Blog, 4 May 2012.


|kəˈmi ng gəl; kä-| v. mix; blend [ intrans. the dust had commingled with the rain [ trans. publicly reproved for commingling funds.

ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from com- [together] mingle. (New Oxford American)


"Ultimately, it turns out that the fermentation process is applicable with both chicha the drink and chicha the music: Various ingredients, left to commingle and absorb each other, create something vaguely familiar and yet new."Felix Contreras, “First Listen: Chicha Libre, ‘Canibalismo,’” NPR, 29 Apr 2012.