berserk \ber-SURK\ adjective – Violently or destructively frenzied; wild; crazed; deranged. noun – Scandinavian legend. An ancient Norse warrior who fought with frenzied rage in battle, possibly induced by eating hallucinogenic mushrooms. Origin: The English usage of berserk lies in an Old Norse story introduced by Sir Walter Scott in 1822. It is from the [...]
Archive for October, 2011
harrowing \HAR-oh-ing\ adjective – Extremely disturbing or distressing; grievous. Origin: Harrowing is from the Middle English harwen meaning to harass or annoy. It was also commonly used in the church to mean “descend into hell.”
askance \uh-SKANS\ adverb – With suspicion, mistrust, or disapproval. With a side glance; sidewise; obliquely. Origin: The origin of askance has not been verifiably determined. It is possibly a variant of the Old Norse word askew meaning “to one side.”
druthers \DRUHTH-erz\ noun – One’s own way, choice, or preference. Origin: Druthers comes from a jocular American English formation of the phrase “I’d ruther” meaning “I’d rather.”
weltschmerz \VELT-shmerts\ noun – Sentimental pessimism; sorrow that one feels and accepts as one’s necessary portion in life. Origin: Weltschmerz comes from German welt, “world” and schmerz, “pain.” The term was coined by Jean Paul Richter in 1810.