Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 18, 2017 is:
furtive \FER-tiv\ adjective
1 a : done in a quiet and secretive way to avoid being noticed : surreptitious
b : expressive of stealth : sly
2 : obtained underhandedly
Julia and I exchanged furtive glances across the room when Edward asked who had rearranged his CD collection.
"… I create a hidden fortress for the cake at the back of the fridge and by this I mean shove quinoa and brussels sprouts in front of it thus saving it for furtive late night snacking." — Sherry Kuehl, The Kansas City Star, 28 Dec. 2016
Did you know?
Furtive has a shadowy history. It may have slipped into English directly from the Latin furtivus or it may have covered its tracks by arriving via the French furtif. We aren't even sure how long it has been a part of the English language. The earliest known written uses of furtive are from the early 1600s, but the derived furtively appears in written form as far back as 1490, suggesting that furtive may have been lurking about for a while. However furtive got into English, its root is the Latin fur, which is related to, and may come from, the Greek phōr (both words mean "thief"). When first used in English, furtive meant "done by stealth," and later also came to mean, less commonly, "stolen." Whichever meaning you choose, the elusive ancestry is particularly fitting, since a thief must be furtive to avoid getting caught in the act.
On this day in 1852, in New York City, Henry Wells and William G. Fargo join with several other investors to launch their namesake business.
The discovery of gold in California in 1849 prompted a huge spike in the demand for cross-country shipping. Wells and Fargo decided to take advantage of these great opportunities. In July 1852, their company shipped its first loads of freight from the East Coast to mining camps scattered around northern California. The company contracted with independent stagecoach companies to provide the fastest possible transportation and delivery of gold dust, important documents and other valuable freight. It also served as a bank–buying gold dust, selling paper bank drafts and providing loans to help fuel California’s growing economy.
In 1857, Wells, Fargo and Co. formed the Overland Mail Company, known as the “Butterfield Line,” which provided regular mail and passenger service along an ever-growing number of routes. In the boom-and-bust economy of the 1850s, the company earned a reputation as a trustworthy and reliable business, and its logo–the classic stagecoach–became famous. For a premium price, Wells, Fargo and Co. would send an employee on horseback to deliver or pick up a message or package.
Wells, Fargo and Co. merged with several other “Pony Express” and stagecoach lines in 1866 to become the unrivaled leader in transportation in the West. When the transcontinental railroad was completed three years later, the company began using railroad to transport its freight. By 1910, its shipping network connected 6,000 locations, from the urban centers of the East and the farming towns of the Midwest to the ranching and mining centers of Texas and California and the lumber mills of the Pacific Northwest.
After splitting from the freight business in 1905, the banking branch of the company merged with the Nevada National Bank and established new headquarters in San Francisco. During World War I, the U.S. government nationalized the company’s shipping routes and combined them with the railroads into the American Railway Express, effectively putting an end to Wells, Fargo and Co. as a transportation and delivery business. The following April, the banking headquarters was destroyed in a major earthquake, but the vaults remained intact and the bank’s business continued to grow. After two later mergers, the Wells Fargo Bank American Trust Company–shortened to the Wells Fargo Bank in 1962–became, and has remained, one of the biggest banking institutions in the United States.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 17, 2017 is:
effulgence \ih-FULL-junss\ noun
: radiant splendor : brilliance
"There's plenty of conflict about who invented hummus or falafel … and where these dishes reach their dazzling effulgence, but the truth is there are common dishes and flavors to many of the cuisines found along the southern edge of the Mediterranean Sea." — Laura Reiley, The Tampa Bay Times, 6 July 2016
"The performance was riveting, demonstrating both her technical prowess and her clear understanding of line, movement, and energy. The work was exquisitely sculpted into an ever-growing effulgence that crept steadily forward toward a transfixing conclusion." — Wayne F. Anthony, The Blade (Toledo, Ohio), 4 Feb. 2017
Did you know?
Apparently, English speakers first took a shine to effulgence in the 17th century; that's when the word was first used in print in our language. Effulgence derives from the Latin verb fulgēre, which means "to shine." Fulgēre is also the root of fulgent, a synonym of radiant that English speakers have used since the 15th century. Another related word, refulgence, is about 30 years older than effulgence. Refulgence carries a meaning similar to effulgence but sometimes goes further by implying reflectivity, as in "the refulgence of the knight's gleaming armor."
On this day in 461 A.D., Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, dies at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland.
Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from the Confessio, a book he wrote during his last years. Born in Great Britain, probably in Scotland, to a well-to-do Christian family of Roman citizenship, Patrick was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish marauders. For the next six years, he worked as a herder in Ireland, turning to a deepening religious faith for comfort. Following the counsel of a voice he heard in a dream one night, he escaped and found passage on a ship to Britain, where he was eventually reunited with his family.
According to the Confessio, in Britain Patrick had another dream, in which an individual named Victoricus gave him a letter, entitled “The Voice of the Irish.” As he read it, Patrick seemed to hear the voices of Irishmen pleading him to return to their country and walk among them once more. After studying for the priesthood, Patrick was ordained a bishop. He arrived in Ireland in 433 and began preaching the Gospel, converting many thousands of Irish and building churches around the country. After 40 years of living in poverty, teaching, traveling and working tirelessly, Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, where he had built his first church.
Since that time, countless legends have grown up around Patrick. Made the patron saint of Ireland, he is said to have baptized hundreds of people on a single day, and to have used a three-leaf clover–the famous shamrock–to describe the Holy Trinity. In art, he is often portrayed trampling on snakes, in accordance with the belief that he drove those reptiles out of Ireland. For thousands of years, the Irish have observed the day of Saint Patrick’s death as a religious holiday, attending church in the morning and celebrating with food and drink in the afternoon. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade, though, took place not in Ireland, but the United States, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City in 1762. As the years went on, the parades became a show of unity and strength for persecuted Irish-American immigrants, and then a popular celebration of Irish-American heritage. The party went global in 1995, when the Irish government began a large-scale campaign to market St. Patrick’s Day as a way of driving tourism and showcasing Ireland’s many charms to the rest of the world. Today, March 17 is a day of international celebration, as millions of people around the globe put on their best green clothing to drink beer, watch parades and toast the luck of the Irish.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 16, 2017 is:
decry \dih-KRY\ verb
1 : to depreciate (as a coin) officially or publicly
2 : to express strong disapproval of
Town officials were surprised by how roundly the changes to the town hall's hours were decried.
"He has previously spoken on behalf of music education and decried music piracy and the low royalty rates paid to artists whose songs are streamed online." — George Varga, The San Diego Union Tribune, 12 Feb. 2017
Did you know?
Decry, depreciate, disparage, and belittle all mean "to express a low opinion of something," but there are also some subtle differences in their use. Decry, which is a descendant of the Old French verb crier, meaning "to cry," implies open condemnation with intent to discredit ("he decried her defeatist attitude"). Depreciate implies that something is being represented as having less value than commonly believed ("critics depreciated his plays for being unabashedly sentimental"). Disparage implies depreciation by indirect means, such as slighting or harmful comparison ("she disparaged polo as a game for the rich"). Belittle usually suggests a contemptuous or envious attitude ("they belittled the achievements of others").
The United States Military Academy–the first military school in the United States–is founded by Congress for the purpose of educating and training young men in the theory and practice of military science. Located at West Point, New York, the U.S. Military Academy is often simply known as West Point.
Located on the high west bank of New York’s Hudson River, West Point was the site of a Revolutionary-era fort built to protect the Hudson River Valley from British attack. In 1780, Patriot General Benedict Arnold, the commander of the fort, agreed to surrender West Point to the British in exchange for 6,000 pounds. However, the plot was uncovered before it fell into British hands, and Arnold fled to the British for protection.
Ten years after the establishment of the U.S. Military Academy in 1802, the growing threat of another war with Great Britain resulted in congressional action to expand the academy’s facilities and increase the West Point corps. Beginning in 1817, the U.S. Military Academy was reorganized by superintendent Sylvanus Thayer–later known as the “father of West Point”–and the school became one of the nation’s finest sources of civil engineers. During the Mexican-American War, West Point graduates filled the leading ranks of the victorious U.S. forces, and with the outbreak of the Civil War former West Point classmates regretfully lined up against one another in the defense of their native states.
In 1870, the first African-American cadet was admitted into the U.S. Military Academy, and in 1976, the first female cadets. The academy is now under the general direction and supervision of the department of the U.S. Army and has an enrollment of more than 4,000 students.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 15, 2017 is:
gadzookery \gad-ZOO-kuh-ree\ noun
: (British) the use of archaisms (as in a historical novel)
"Several other stories and verses that they jointly contributed to magazines are historical and melodramatic in tone, larded with archaic oaths and exclamations and general gadzookery." — Julia Briggs, A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1987
"Her spare prose and dialogue give a period flavour without the dread excesses of gadzookery." — David Langford, The Complete Critical Assembly, 2002
Did you know?
"Gadzooks . . . you astonish me!" cries Mr. Lenville in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby. We won't accuse Dickens of gadzookery ("the bane of historical fiction," as historical novelist John Vernon once called it), because we assume people actually said gadzooks back in the 1830s. That mild oath is an old-fashioned euphemism, so it is thought, for "God's hooks" (a reference, supposedly, to the nails of the Crucifixion). Today's historical novelists must toe a fine line, avoiding anachronistic expressions while at the same time rejecting modern expressions such as okay and nice (the latter, in Shakespeare's day, suggesting one who was wanton or dissolute rather than pleasant, kind, or respectable).
On this day in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress to urge the passage of legislation guaranteeing voting rights for all.
Using the phrase “we shall overcome,” borrowed from African-American leaders struggling for equal rights, Johnson declared that “every American citizen must have an equal right to vote.” Johnson reminded the nation that the Fifteenth Amendment, which was passed after the Civil War, gave all citizens the right to vote regardless of race or color. But states had defied the Constitution and erected barriers. Discrimination had taken the form of literacy, knowledge or character tests administered solely to African-Americans to keep them from registering to vote.
“Their cause must be our cause too,”Johnson said. “Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”
The speech was delivered eight days after racial violence erupted in Selma, Alabama. Civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King and over 500 supporters were attacked while planning a march to Montgomery to register African-Americans to vote. The police violence that erupted resulted in the death of a King supporter, a white Unitarian Minister from Boston named James J. Reeb. Television news coverage of the event galvanized voting rights supporters in Congress.
A second attempt to march to Montgomery was also blocked by police. It took Federal intervention with the “federalizing” of the Alabama national guard and the addition of over 2,000 other guards to allow the march to begin.
The march to Montgomery finally began March 21 with over 3,000 participants under the glare of worldwide news publicity.
The violence, however, continued. Just after the march was successfully completed on March 25, four Klansman shot and killed Detroit homemaker Viola Liuzzo as she drove marchers back to Selma.
On August 6, 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which made it illegal to impose restrictions on federal, state and local elections that were designed to deny the vote to blacks.
While state and local enforcement of the act was initially weak, mainly in the South, the Voting Rights Act gave African-American voters the legal means to challenge voting restrictions and vastly improved voter turnout. In Mississippi alone, voter turnout among blacks increased from 6 percent in 1964 to 59 percent in 1969.
In 1970, President Richard Nixon extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act and lowered the eligible voting age for all voters to 18.