Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 12, 2016 is:
marmoreal \mahr-MOR-ee-ul\ adjective
: of, relating to, or suggestive of marble or a marble statue especially in coldness or aloofness
"'Thank you for your submission,' the note begins with marmoreal courtesy. It ends with a wish for success in placing your manuscript with another house." — William Germano, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 20 Feb. 2011
"Marble … has always been synonymous with artistry and luxury. Had it not been glowing marble would Michelangelo's David and the Pieta have looked the same? Not to speak of our Taj Mahal, whose marmoreal splendour has moved many poets to wax eloquent about its beauty." — Soumitra Das, The Telegraph (India), 1 June 2014
Did you know?
Most marble-related words in English were chiseled from the Latin noun marmor, meaning "marble." Marmor gave our language the word marble itself in the 12th century. It is also the parent of marmoreal, which has been used in English since the mid-1600s. Marbleize, another marmor descendant, came later, making its print debut around 1854. The obscure adjective marmorate, meaning "veined like marble," dates to the 16th century and hasn't seen much use since.
On this day in 2002, former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic goes on trial at The Hague, Netherlands, on charges of genocide and war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. Milosevic served as his own attorney for much of the prolonged trial, which ended without a verdict when the so-called “Butcher of the Balkans” was found dead at age 64 from an apparent heart attack in his prison cell on March 11, 2006.
Yugoslavia, consisting of Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, became a federal republic, headed by Communist leader Marshal Tito, on January 31, 1946. Tito died in May 1980 and Yugoslavia, along with communism, crumbled over the next decade.
Milosevic, born August 20, 1941, joined the Communist Party at age 18; he became president of Serbia in 1989. On June 25, 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia and Milosevic sent tanks to the Slovenian border, sparking a brief war that ended in Slovenia’s secession. In Croatia, fighting broke out between Croats and ethnic Serbs and Serbia sent weapons and medical supplies to the Serbian rebels in Croatia. Croatian forces clashed with the Serb-led Yugoslav army troops and their Serb supporters. An estimated 10,000 people were killed and hundreds of Croatian towns were destroyed before a U.N. cease-fire was established in January 1992. In March, Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence, and Milosevic funded the subsequent Bosnian Serb rebellion, starting a war that killed an estimated 200,000 people, before a U.S.-brokered peace agreement was reached at Dayton, Ohio, in 1995.
In Kosovo, a formerly autonomous province of Serbia, liberation forces clashed with Serbs and the Yugoslav army was sent in. Amidst reports that Milosevic had launched an ethnic cleansing campaign against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians, NATO forces launched air strikes against Yugoslavia in 1999.
Ineligible to run for a third term as Serbian president, Milosevic had made himself president of Yugoslavia in 1997. After losing the presidential election in September 2000, he refused to accept defeat until mass protests forced him to resign the following month. He was charged with corruption and abuse of power and finally surrendered to Serbian authorities on April 1, 2001, after a 26-hour standoff. That June, he was extradited to the Netherlands and indicted by a United Nations war crimes tribunal. Milosevic died in his cell of a heart attack before his trial could be completed.
In February 2003, Serbia and Montenegro became a commonwealth and officially dropped the name Yugoslavia. In June 2006, the two countries declared their independence from each other.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 11, 2016 is:
incumbent \in-KUM-bunt\ noun
2 : one that occupies a particular position or place
The two-term incumbent has already raised almost a million dollars for the upcoming congressional race.
"In recent weeks, the candidates hoping to succeed Obama have backed into an honest debate about what American power can and can't do. On Tuesday, the incumbent himself joined in, explicitly defending his own restrained approach." — Dante Ramos, The Boston Globe, 14 Jan. 2016
Did you know?
When incumbent was first used in English in the 15th century, it referred to someone who occupied a benefice—a paid position in a church. This was often a lifetime appointment; the person could only be forced to leave the office in the case of certain specific legal conflicts. In the mid-17th century, incumbent came to refer to anyone holding any office, including elected positions. These days, in the American political system, incumbent generally refers to someone who is the current holder of a position during an election to fill that position. Incumbent came to English through Anglo-French and derives from the Latin incumbere, meaning "to lie down on."
Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, is released from prison after 27 years on February 11, 1990.
In 1944, Mandela, a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest black political organization in South Africa, where he became a leader of Johannesburg’s youth wing of the ANC. In 1952, he became deputy national president of the ANC, advocating nonviolent resistance to apartheid–South Africa’s institutionalized system of white supremacy and racial segregation. However, after the massacre of peaceful black demonstrators at Sharpeville in 1960, Nelson helped organize a paramilitary branch of the ANC to engage in guerrilla warfare against the white minority government.
In 1961, he was arrested for treason, and although acquitted he was arrested again in 1962 for illegally leaving the country. Convicted and sentenced to five years at Robben Island Prison, he was put on trial again in 1964 on charges of sabotage. In June 1964, he was convicted along with several other ANC leaders and sentenced to life in prison.
Mandela spent the first 18 of his 27 years in jail at the brutal Robben Island Prison. Confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing, he was forced to do hard labor in a quarry. He could write and receive a letter once every six months, and once a year he was allowed to meet with a visitor for 30 minutes. However, Mandela’s resolve remained unbroken, and while remaining the symbolic leader of the anti-apartheid movement, he led a movement of civil disobedience at the prison that coerced South African officials into drastically improving conditions on Robben Island. He was later moved to another location, where he lived under house arrest.
In 1989, F.W. de Klerk became South African president and set about dismantling apartheid. De Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC, suspended executions, and in February 1990 ordered the release of Nelson Mandela.
Mandela subsequently led the ANC in its negotiations with the minority government for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government. In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. One year later, the ANC won an electoral majority in the country’s first free elections, and Mandela was elected South Africa’s president.
Mandela retired from politics in 1999, but remained a global advocate for peace and social justice until his death in December 2013.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 10, 2016 is:
gruntle \GRUN-tul\ verb
: to put in a good humor
The hour-long wait at the restaurant irked us, but once we were seated, we were soon gruntled by an amiable waiter.
"I returned to my interrupted slumber in a mood far from gruntled. It was an injury to my amour propre to realize that in the Whitcomb affair I had been a small cog on a large wheel." — Lawrence Sanders, McNally's Trial, 1995
Did you know?
The verb disgruntle, which has been around since 1682, means "to make ill-humored or discontented." The prefix dis- often means "to do the opposite of," so people might naturally assume that if there is a disgruntle, there must have first been a gruntle with exactly the opposite meaning. But dis- doesn't always work that way; in some rare cases it functions instead as an intensifier. Disgruntle developed from this intensifying sense of dis- plus gruntle, an old word (now used only in British dialect) meaning "to grumble." In the 1920s, a writer humorously used gruntle to mean "to make happy"—in other words, as an antonym of disgruntle. The use caught on. At first gruntle was used only in humorous ways, but people eventually began to use it seriously as well.
On this day in 1996, after three hours, world chess champion Garry Kasparov loses the first game of a six-game match against Deep Blue, an IBM computer capable of evaluating 200 million moves per second.Â Man was ultimately victorious over machine, however, as Kasparov bested Deep Blue in the match with three wins and two ties and took home the $400,000 prize. An estimated 6 million people worldwide followed the action on the Internet.
Kasparov had previously defeated Deep Thought, the prototype for Deep Blue developed by IBM researchers in 1989, but he and other chess grandmasters had, on occasion, lost to computers in games that lasted an hour or less. The February 1996 contest was significant in that it represented the first time a human and a computer had duked it out in a regulation, six-game match, in which each player had two hours to make 40 moves, two hours to finish the next 20 moves and then another 60 minutes to wrap up the game.
Kasparov, who was born in 1963 in Baku, Azerbaijan, became the Soviet Union’s junior chess champion at age 13 and in 1985, at age 22, the youngest world champ ever when he beat legendary Soviet player Anatoly Karpov. Considered by many to be the greatest chess player in the history of the game, Kasparov was known for his swashbuckling style of play and his ability to switch tactics mid-game.
In 1997, a rematch took place between Kasparov and an enhanced Deep Blue. Kasparov won the first game, the computer the second, with the next three games a draw. On May 11, 1997, Deep Blue came out on top with a surprising sixth game win–and the $700,000 match prize.
In 2003, Kasparov battled another computer program, “Deep Junior.” The match ended in a tie. Kasparov retired from professional chess in 2005.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 9, 2016 is:
jocund \JAH-kund\ adjective
: marked by or suggestive of high spirits and lively mirthfulness
Clayton gave a jocund shout when he entered the room and saw the many friends who had come for his surprise 50th birthday celebration.
"The jocund nature of Beethoven's Second Symphony is in utter contradiction with Beethoven's pathetic letter expressing the despair of inevitable deafness, both written at approximately the same time." — D. S. Crafts, The Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal, 13 Jan. 2012
Did you know?
Don't let the etymology of jocund play tricks on you. The word comes from jucundus, a Latin word meaning "agreeable" or "delightful," and ultimately from the Latin verb juvare, meaning "to help." But jucundus looks and sounds a bit like jocus, the Latin word for "joke." These two roots took a lively romp through many centuries together and along the way the lighthearted jocus influenced the spelling and meaning of jucundus, an interaction that eventually produced our Modern English word jocund in the 14th century.
On this day in 1971, pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige becomes the first Negro League veteran to be nominated for the Baseball Hall of Fame. In August of that year, Paige, a pitching legend known for his fastball, showmanship and the longevity of his playing career, which spanned five decades, was inducted. Joe DiMaggio once called Paige “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.”
Paige was born in Mobile, Alabama, most likely on July 7, 1906, although the exact date remains a mystery. He earned his nickname, Satchel, as a boy when he earned money carrying passengers’ bags at train stations. Baseball was segregated when Paige started playing baseball professionally in the 1920s, so he spent most of his career pitching for Negro League teams around the United States. During the winter season, he pitched for teams in the Caribbean and Central and South America. As a barnstorming player who traveled thousands of miles each season and played for whichever team met his asking price, he pitched an estimated 2,500 games, had 300 shut-outs and 55 no-hitters. In one month in 1935, he reportedly pitched 29 consecutive games.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. The following year, Paige also entered the majors, signing with the Cleveland Indians and becoming, at age 42, baseball’s oldest rookie. He helped the Indians win the pennant that year and later played for the St. Louis Browns and Kansas City A’s.
Paige retired from the majors in 1953, but returned in 1965 to pitch three innings for the Kansas City A’s. He was 59 at the time, making him the oldest person ever to play in the Major Leagues. In addition to being famous for his talent and longevity, Paige was also well-known for his sense of humor and colorful observations on life, including: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you” and “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
He died June 8, 1982, in Kansas City, Missouri.