Thursday, October 30, 2003

Etymology Today from M-W: brouhaha \BROO-hah-hah: hubbub, uproar

There is a bit of a brouhaha over the etymology of "brouhaha." Some etymologists think the word is onomatopoeic in origin, but others believe it comes from the Hebrew phrase "bârûkh habbâ’," meaning "blessed be he who enters" (Ps 118:26). Although we borrowed our spelling and meaning of "brouhaha" directly from French in the late 19th century, etymologists have connected the French derivation to that frequently-recited Hebrew phrase, distorted to something like "brouhaha" by worshippers whose knowledge of Hebrew was limited. Thus, once out of the synagogue, the word first meant "a noisy confusion of sound"-a sense that was later extended to refer to any tumultuous and confused situation.

Usage Nuances from M-W: salubrious \suh-LOO-bree-uss\
: favorable to or promoting health or well-being

"Salubrious" and its synonyms "healthful" and "wholesome" all mean favorable to the health of mind or body. "Healthful" implies a positive contribution to a healthy condition (as in French chef Jacques Pepin's Simple and Healthy Cooking, which features recipes using "more healthful ingredients"). "Wholesome" applies to something that benefits you, builds you up, or sustains you physically, mentally, or spiritually (as in centenarian Julia Bunch’s recipe for longevity: "hard work and wholesome country living" - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 12, 1985). "Salubrious" is similar to the other two, but tends to apply chiefly to the helpful effects of climate or air.

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