Monday, May 05, 2003

Etymology Today from M-W: tempestuous \tem-PESS-chuh-wus\
: of, relating to, or resembling a tempest : turbulent, stormy

Time is sometimes marked in seasons, and seasons are associated with the weather. This explains how "tempus," the Latin word for "time" could have given rise to an English adjective for things turbulent and stormy. "Tempus" is the root behind the Old Latin "tempestus," meaning "season," and the Late Latin "tempestuosus," the direct ancestor of "tempestuous." As you might expect, "tempus" is also the root of the noun "tempest"; it probably played a role in the history of "temper" as well, but that connection isn't as definite.

More E.T. from M-W: usage notes:
putrid \PYOO-trid\
1 a : rotten b: foul 2 : morally objectionable

Can you sniff out another adjective that describes a less- than-pleasant odor? If "malodorous" comes to mind, you've got a good nose for synonyms. But malodorous smells aren't always as bad as putrid ones; they can range from merely unpleasant to really offensive. If "putrid" and "malodorous" don't seem quite right, try "noisome," which suggests that something is harmful as well as bad-smelling. "Fusty" and "musty" are used for things that are dirty, wet, or lacking in fresh air and sunlight (as in "a fusty old attic" or "the musty odor of a damp cellar"). For a real stinker, go with "fetid," a word for smells that are truly foul or disgusting.

obstinate \AHB-stuh-nut\
1 : perversely adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion
2 : not easily subdued, remedied, or removed

If you're obstinate, you're just plain stubborn. "Obstinate," "dogged," "stubborn," and "mulish" all mean that someone is unwilling to change course or give up a belief or plan. "Obstinate" suggests an unreasonable persistence; it's often a negative word. "Dogged" implies that someone goes after something without ever tiring or quitting; it can be more positive. "Stubborn" indicates a resistance to change, which may or may not be admirable. Someone who displays a really unreasonable degree of stubbornness could accurately be described as "mulish."

Previous E.T.

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