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Jan 21, 2013
This week's theme
Eponyms

This week's words
silhouette
casanova
xanthippe
shrapnel
Don Juan

silhouette
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

"Proper names that have become improper and uncommonly common" is how the author Willard R. Espy described eponyms, and that is the theme for this week's words in AWAD: words coined from people's names.

In our quest for eponyms, we are going to Europe this time, to France, Italy, England, Greece, and Spain. And we'll meet a finance minister, a seducer, a military officer, a philosopher's wife, and a womanizer. All aboard!

silhouette

PRONUNCIATION:
(sil-oo-ET)

MEANING:
noun: The outline of someone or something, filled in with a solid color.
verb tr.: To show in a silhouette.

ETYMOLOGY:
After French finance minister Etienne de Silhouette (1709-1767). It's unclear how Silhouette's name became associated with this art form. Perhaps it was alluding to his austerity measures during the Seven Years' War, as a silhouette was a cheap way to making a portrait instead of a painting. It's also said that he was fond of hanging these kinds of portraits in his office. Earliest documented use: 1798.

USAGE:
"It's just a silhouette. Many of us have met shadows of people and not the people."
Nompumelelo Precious Dlamini; Memoirs of Love Lessons; Red Lead Press; 2011.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
In this world, you must be a bit too kind to be kind enough. -Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux, dramatist and novelist (1688-1763)

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