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Aug 28, 2018
This week’s theme
Eponyms

This week’s words
scaramouch
Molotov cocktail
roister-doister
braggadocio
dickensian

Molotov bread basket
Molotov bread basket
(Soviet RRAB-3 bomb)

Molotov cocktail
Finnish soldier with a Molotov cocktail
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Molotov cocktail

PRONUNCIATION:
(MOL-uh-tof KOK-tayl)

MEANING:
noun: A crude bomb made of a bottle filled with a liquid fuel and fitted with a rag wick that is lighted just before the bottle is hurled.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Soviet foreign minister, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov (1890-1986). Earliest documented use: 1940.

NOTES:
It could have been known as a Skryabin cocktail. Molotov was born as Vyacheslav Skryabin, but he took the name Molotov (from Russian molot: hammer). During the Winter War between the USSR and Finland (1939-1940), when the Soviets received international criticism for the bombing of Helsinki, Molotov claimed they were delivering humanitarian aid. In response, the Finns sarcastically called those cluster bombs Molotov bread baskets.
If the Soviets were bringing bread to the party, the least the Finns could do was bring drinks. They called their makeshift incendiary devices Molotov cocktails and used them to destroy Soviet tanks.

USAGE:
“Finn [Farrell]’s Facebook message had popped into her work inbox like a Molotov cocktail, exploding her crammed diary into shards of missed meetings, unreturned phone calls, and hurried apologies.”
Joan Kilby; Meant To Be Hers; Mills & Boon Superromance; 2018.

NOTES:
A “superromance” from Mills & Boon is the last place you’d expect to find a Molotov cocktail, but there it is. We bring it to you from wherever we can source it.
We send our editors around the world in search for words and, when they return from their perilous journeys abroad and unload their boats, we can’t wait to look at the plunder. Most of the time we discover such treasures as gemutlich and scud and orphic, but sometimes we learn that they had been reading mushy romances in the stateroom all this time.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (28 Aug 1749-1832)

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