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Nov 6, 2018
This week’s theme
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This week’s words
trumped-up
stormy petrel
melancholia
pensive
huckster

stormy petrel
Art: Robert Havell
From Birds of America (1827)
By John James Audubon

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

stormy petrel

PRONUNCIATION:
(STOR-mee PE-truhl)

MEANING:
noun:
1. One who brings trouble or whose appearance is a sign of coming trouble.
2. Any of various small sea birds of the family Hydrobatidae having dark feathers and lighter underparts, also known as Mother Carey’s Chicken.

ETYMOLOGY:
The birds got the name storm petrel or stormy petrel because old-time sailors believed their appearance foreshadowed a storm. It’s not certain why the bird is named petrel. One unsubstantiated theory is that it is named after St. Peter who walked on water in the Gospel of Matthew. The petrel’s habit of flying low over water with legs extended gives the appearance that it’s walking on the water. Earliest documented use: 1776.

USAGE:
“To some, Walker was a stormy petrel as he spoke his mind and did not hesitate to fight for what he thought was right, even at the risk of his career and delaying his knighthood by several years.”
Lai Soon Ang; Old Soldier Fades Away; New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia); Aug 27, 2001.

See more usage examples of stormy petrel in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I don't think that combat has ever been written about truthfully; it has always been described in terms of bravery and cowardice. I won't even accept these words as terms of human reference any more. And anyway, hell, they don't even apply to what, in actual fact, modern warfare has become. -James Jones, novelist (6 Nov 1921-1977)

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