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Feb 20, 2017
This week’s theme
Origin unknown

This week’s words
kibosh
copacetic
rambunctious
codswallop
lollygag

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Etymologists are linguistic Sherlock Holmeses. They track down a word’s history to find out its travel through time. A word might take a circuitous path, winding through many languages before reaching its current stop. An example is the word mandarin, which started from Sanskrit with layovers in Hindi, Malay, and Portuguese before reaching English.

But there are many words for which we’ve come empty-handed in our search for their origins. We know what these words mean, we have usage examples from the past, but where these words came from, how they were coined, who coined them, it’s all a big mystery. But that doesn’t prevent us from enjoying (and employing) them.

This week we’ll meet five words that are here, their past unknown.

kibosh

PRONUNCIATION:
(KY-bosh, ky-BOSH)

MEANING:
noun: Check; stop (used in the phrase “to put the kibosh on”).

ETYMOLOGY:
Origin unknown. Various origins (Yiddish, Hebrew, and Irish) have been proposed, but supporting evidence is lacking in each case. Earliest documented use: 1836.

USAGE:
“Not content with taking a bulldozer to the European Union, Mrs May seems hell-bent on putting the kibosh on an agreement that is crucial to protecting our national and international commitment to human rights.”
Garry Scott; May’s Move Would Threaten Human Rights Across Globe; The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland); Jan 6, 2017.

See more usage examples of kibosh in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. -Fyodor Dostoevsky, novelist (1821-1881)

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