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Interesting words need not be so obscure as to be worthless. This week we demonstrate that by reading a single newspaper, you can find an unusual and non-technical word daily.

I chose one of the few national papers in the US, and arbitrarily chose the week in which its publication expanded to six days. There was no difficulty finding a daily word to present. In fact, I rarely had to read more than just the editorial page.

Gresham's Lawfig: a process whereby inferior products drive out superior ones
[OED notes only the literal use, meaning the economic principle that 'bad money drives out good'. When two currencies in use are perceived to have different likelihoods of becoming debased, people tend to hoard and keep the better, thus leaving only the worse currency in circulation. Named after Sir Thomas Gresham, who noted this in a 1558 letter to Queen Elizabeth.]
    A political Gresham's law has debased Senate confirmation proceedings … . And the more lofty the judicial position, the more the process has sunk into an unseemly and demeaning spectacle.
    – Theodore B. Olson, Wall Street Journal, Monday, Sept. 12, 2005

Note: Apologies for yesterday's error. It's objet d'art, not object d'art

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alluvial – made of or relating to alluvium; that is, soil deposited by flowing water
    … an engineering solution exists that would assure the reliability of the levees, even in the alluvial soil of New Orleans without the bedrock found elsewhere.
    – Pete Wilson, former Calif. governor, Wall Street Journal, Tuesday Sept. 13, 2005
Since we've already used a form of this word as our word-a-day, I'll include another one, commenting on the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals, which target poverty, hunger and like problems:
    … the measurements are so inadequate, that one cannot know … if the desired trend of improvement is actually occurring. …. serial guessing isn't helping poor people. If we set quantitative goals, then we ought to be concerned enough to actually quantitate.
    – Wall Street Journal, Tuesday Sept. 13, 2005, quoting article in Oct. issue of PloS Medicine
quantitate – to measure or estimate the quantity of
 
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rentier – a person living on income from property or investments
    Iraq's enconomic models suffers from two basic weaknesses. First, it is a rentier economy designed to distribute the oil income via state subsidies.
    – Amir Taheri, Guess Who's Coming to Dinar, Wall Street Journal, Wed. Sept. 14, 2005
 
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Zukunftangst – fear of the future
Today's word does not yet appear in any dictionary I know of. But what a useful word!
    Germany is haunted. My countrymen see ghosts everywhere as they go to the polls … A balance of terror has emerged: Fear of unemployment competes with fear of an overly radical fight against it. Empty state coffers cause the same horror as the budget cuts designed to overcome them. … the word "fear" attaches itself to the word "future" – Zukunftangst permeates German mind. Fear of reform, fear of stagnation, fear of a failure of democracy and now – as the frantic climax of this collective neurosis – the fear of a further growth of fear. The result is political exhaustion on all sides.
    – Gabor Steingart, Wall Street Journal, Thursday Sept. 15, 2005

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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
Zukunftangst – fear of the future


Let me begin with a quibble: there's an 's' missing: ZukunftSangst

Having said so, it must be admitted that the the placement/omission of this 's' (the "semi-genitive" is one name for it) is controversial among the German Safires.

Which is not the point here; the point is it reminded that there are a fair number of sesquipedalian German words in English, the main reason for which being that German is a language that not only permits, but outright allows, the fomration of new words; where English has a phrase -- small cattle breeder's association -- German will often have a single (nonce) word -- Kleinviehzuchtverband.

So, we have Weltanschauung (maybe the only EuroWord with 2 u's in a row?), Weltschmerz, Fahrvergnügen (a real word, BTW), Schadenfreude (what a compact way to say: happiness at someone else's expense), Gemütlichkeit ...

D the F
 
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fractious1. difficult to control 2. easily irritated; quarrelsome
    Mr. Talabani, arguably the most popular political figure in fractious Iraq, brings to this project a personal history built from political stress.
    – Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, Friday Sept. 16, 2005
A quote illustrating the second sense:
    ... he enjoyed the cosseting for approximately twenty-four hours and then became in turn restive, restless, testy, irritable, cranky, fractious, and extremely bad tempered.
    – Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
Bonus word: cosset – to care for over-indulgently
[from a noun meaning "a lamb brought up by hand, as a pet"]

Corrective note: Yesterday's word was Zukunftsangst.
 
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perdurable – extremely durable and long-lasting; also, permanent; everlasting
perdure – to continue, endure; to persist; to last forever
    … the U.N. perdures as it has for 60 years and through countless "reform" bids.
    – Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Sat./Sun. Sept. 17-18, 2005

    Our sweete lord God of hevene, that no man wole perisse [will perish], but wole that we comen alle to the knoweleche of hym, and to the blisful lif that is perdurable
    – Chaucer, Parson's Tale
 
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anthropic – of or belonging to a human being; of a human sort
anthropic principle – the principle that theories of the universe are constrained by the need to allow for man's existence in it as an observer

Today we cite a most interesting article.
    Some cosmologists said that the density [of matter] is what it is because if it were anything else we wouldn't be here to even wonder about it. That line of thinking is called the anthropic principle. But appealing to anthropic reasoning amounts to a premature surrender. … scientists basically threw up their hands and said "it is what it is," and missed the fact that the magic density emerges from something more basic. [Says Dr. Livio,] "Anthropic reasoning should not replace the search for fundamental explanations."
    –Sharon Begley, Are the universe's traits random or inevitable?, Wall Street Journal, Friday, Sept. 16, 2005
 
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