Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 25, 2016 is:
juxtapose \JUK-stuh-pohz\ verb
: to place side by side (as to compare or contrast)
Darlene has a keen eye for fashion, and she likes to juxtapose vintage pieces with contemporary styles to create new looks.
"ESPN posted an image of poverty outside Havana's sports stadium last week, to juxtapose the well-kept stadium with the shabby neighborhood around it." — Carolina Miranda, The Los Angeles Times (latimes.com), 28 Mar. 2016
Did you know?
A back-formation is a word that has come about through the removal of a prefix or a suffix from a longer word. Etymologists think juxtapose is a back-formation that was created when people trimmed down the noun juxtaposition. Historical evidence supports the idea: juxtaposition was showing up in English documents as early as 1654, but juxtapose didn't appear until 1851. Juxtaposition is itself thought to be a combination of Latin juxta, meaning "near," and English position.
On this day in 1983, the Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader from Manchester, Maine, inviting her to visit his country. Andropov’s letter came in response to a note Smith had sent him in December 1982, asking if the Soviets were planning to start a nuclear war. At the time, the United States and Soviet Union were Cold War enemies.
President Ronald Reagan, a passionate anti-communist, had dubbed the Soviet Union the “evil empire” and called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat. In his public relations duel with Reagan, known as the “Great Communicator,” Andropov, who had succeeded longtime Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1982, assumed a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach that was incongruous with the negative image most Americans had of the Soviets.
Andropov’s letter said that Russian people wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth.” Andropov also complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character Becky Thatcher from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain.
Smith, born June 29, 1972, accepted Andropov’s invitation and flew to the Soviet Union with her parents for a visit. Afterward, she became an international celebrity and peace ambassador, making speeches, writing a book and even landing a role on an American television series. In February 1984, Yuri Andropov died from kidney failure and was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko. The following year, in August 1985, Samantha Smith died tragically in a plane crash at age 13.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 24, 2016 is:
omniscient \ahm-NISH-unt\ adjective
1 : having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight
2 : possessed of universal or complete knowledge
The novel opens with an omniscient narrator recalling memories of her twelfth birthday.
"Digital advertisers … are increasingly omniscient: no longer do advertisers know just general things about you—a worldly professional, say, with superb taste in journalism—but they target you, specifically." — The Economist, 26 Mar. 2016
Did you know?
One who is omniscient literally knows all. The word omniscient, which has been part of English since at least the beginning of the 17th century, brings together two Latin roots: the prefix omni-, meaning "all," and the verb scire, meaning "to know." You will recognize omni- as the prefix that tells all in such words as omnivorous ("eating all" or, more precisely, "eating both meat and vegetables") and omnipotent ("all-powerful"). Scire likewise has a number of other knowledge-related descendants in English, including conscience, science, and prescience (meaning "foreknowledge").
On this day in 1916, on Easter Monday in Dublin, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret organization of Irish nationalists led by Patrick Pearse, launches the so-called Easter Rebellion, an armed uprising against British rule. Assisted by militant Irish socialists under James Connolly, Pearse and his fellow Republicans rioted and attacked British provincial government headquarters across Dublin and seized the Irish capital’s General Post Office. Following these successes, they proclaimed the independence of Ireland, which had been under the repressive thumb of the United Kingdom for centuries, and by the next morning were in control of much of the city. Later that day, however, British authorities launched a counteroffensive, and by April 29 the uprising had been crushed. Nevertheless, the Easter Rebellion is considered a significant marker on the road to establishing an independent Irish republic.
Following the uprising, Pearse and 14 other nationalist leaders were executed for their participation and held up as martyrs by many in Ireland. There was little love lost among most Irish people for the British, who had enacted a series of harsh anti-Catholic restrictions, the Penal Laws, in the 18th century, and then let 1.5 million Irish starve during the Potato Famine of 1845-1848. Armed protest continued after the Easter Rebellion and in 1921, 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties won independence with the declaration of the Irish Free State. The Free State became an independent republic in 1949. However, six northeastern counties of the Emerald Isle remained part of the United Kingdom, prompting some nationalists to reorganize themselves into the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to continue their struggle for full Irish independence.
In the late 1960s, influenced in part by the U.S. civil rights movement, Catholics in Northern Ireland, long discriminated against by British policies that favored Irish Protestants, advocated for justice. Civil unrest broke out between Catholics and Protestants in the region and the violence escalated as the pro-Catholic IRA battled British troops. An ongoing series of terrorist bombings and attacks ensued in a drawn-out conflict that came to be known as “The Troubles.” Peace talks eventually took place throughout the mid- to late 1990s, but a permanent end to the violence remained elusive. Finally, in July 2005, the IRA announced its members would give up all their weapons and pursue the group’s objectives solely through peaceful means. By the fall of 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported that the IRA’s military campaign to end British rule was over.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 23, 2016 is:
exodus \EK-suh-dus\ noun
1 : (capitalized) the mainly narrative second book of canonical Jewish and Christian Scripture
2 : a mass departure : emigration
When the concert ended, the exodus of attendees clogged up traffic for miles.
"The path of corporate exodus from New York City to New Jersey is well-worn, but real estate brokers and others say that the pace has quickened recently." — Kathleen Lynn, The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey), 28 Feb. 2016
Did you know?
The Biblical book of Exodus describes the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, so it's no surprise that the word has come to refer more generally to any mass departure. The word itself was adopted into English (via Latin) from Greek Exodos, which literally means "the road out." The Greek word was formed by combining the prefix ex- and hodos, meaning "road" or "way." Other descendants of the prolific hodos in English include episode, method, odometer, and period. There are also several scientific words that can be traced back to hodos. Anode and cathode can refer, respectively, to the positive and negative electrodes of a diode, and hodoscope refers to an instrument for tracing the paths of ionizing particles.
According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptized on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptizing a newborn. Shakespeareâs date of death is conclusively known, however: it was April 23, 1616. He was 52 years old and had retired to Stratford three years before.
Although few plays have been performed or analyzed as extensively as the 38 plays ascribed to William Shakespeare, there are few surviving details about the playwrightâs life. This dearth of biographical information is due primarily to his station in life; he was not a noble, but the son of John Shakespeare, a leather trader and the town bailiff. The events of William Shakespeareâs early life can only be gleaned from official records, such as baptism and marriage records.
He probably attended the grammar school in Stratford, where he would have studied Latin and read classical literature. He did not go to university but at age 18 married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years his senior and pregnant at the time of the marriage. Their first daughter, Susanna, was born six months later, and in 1585 William and Anne had twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet, Shakespeareâs only son, died 11 years later, and Anne Shakespeare outlived her husband, dying in 1623. Nothing is known of the period between the birth of the twins and Shakespeareâs emergence as a playwright in London in the early 1590s, but unfounded stories have him stealing deer, joining a group of traveling players, becoming a schoolteacher, or serving as a soldier in the Low Countries.
The first reference to Shakespeare as a London playwright came in 1592, when a fellow dramatist, Robert Greene, wrote derogatorily of him on his deathbed. It is believed that Shakespeare had written the three parts of Henry VI by that point. In 1593, Venus and Adonis was Shakespeareâs first published poem, and he dedicated it to the young Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd earl of Southampton. In 1594, having probably composed, among other plays, Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, and The Taming of the Shrew, he became an actor and playwright for the Lord Chamberlainâs Men, which became the Kingâs Men after James Iâs ascension in 1603. The company grew into Englandâs finest, in no small part because of Shakespeare, who was its principal dramatist. It also had the finest actor of the day, Richard Burbage, and the best theater, the Globe, which was located on the Thamesâ south bank. Shakespeare stayed with the Kingâs Men until his retirement and often acted in small parts.
By 1596, the company had performed the classic Shakespeare plays Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, and A Midsummer Nightâs Dream. That year, John Shakespeare was granted a coat of arms, a testament to his sonâs growing wealth and fame. In 1597, William Shakespeare bought a large house in Stratford. In 1599, after producing his great historical series, the first and second part of Henry IV and Henry V, he became a partner in the ownership of the Globe Theatre.
The beginning of the 17th century saw the performance of the first of his great tragedies, Hamlet. The next play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, was written at the request of Queen Elizabeth I, who wanted to see another play that included the popular character Falstaff. During the next decade, Shakespeare produced such masterpieces as Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest. In 1609, his sonnets, probably written during the 1590s, were published. The 154 sonnets are marked by the recurring themes of the mutability of beauty and the transcendent power of love and art.
Shakespeare died in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1616. Today, nearly 400 years later, his plays are performed and read more often and in more nations than ever before. In a million words written over 20 years, he captured the full range of human emotions and conflicts with a precision that remains sharp today. As his great contemporary the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson said, âHe was not of an age, but for all time.â