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A.Word.A.Day--feng shui

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This week's theme: terms imported from other languages.

feng shui (fung SHWAY) noun

Describing the network of intangible influences, positive and negative, that some believe to operate in a place, knowledge of which is necessary in discovering the most propitious site for putting up a building, staging an event, etc.

[From Chinese feng (wind) and shui (water).]

See more usage examples of feng shui in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

Like yin and yang, feng shui is a new western import of an old philosophical or mythological idea from the other side of the world. In the east, feng shui may be used in siting graves, but in the west it seems to operate mostly at the home-improvement level. A pretentious term perhaps, but that's part of its marketing appeal.

-Guest Wordsmith Philip Gooden (pgoodenATgooden.ndo.co.uk)

"Gervais is amused that his workplace has recently been described by one journalist as 'minimalist', as if this was all deliberate, and the product of an expensive feng shui consultation." Matthew D'Ancona; Fact. There is Life After The Office; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Nov 22 2004.


Experience makes us see an enormous difference between piety and goodness. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)

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