Today’s word of the day is corker, a remarkable or astounding person or thing.
The history of corker is really about bottle corks and not about Irish from Cork. It means a settler, as in a thing which settles (a debate, wager, etc.), not a person who newly inhabits a mostly unpopulated area.
A corker is the last word on a topic. It is literally a “stopper” like a bottle stopper, only in this case it is a debate stopper. It is something so great that any talk further about it, or any attempt to identify a better example of such a thing, is pointless. A similar use is when people say “Put a cork in it!” meaning “stop talking!”
You can find an apt description of a slightly different way of using of “corker” in this dictionary of Sussex dialect from 1840: “I have given him a corker; ‘I have silenced him;’ I have closed up his mouth as effectually as a cork does a bottle.”
Today’s word of the day is rux, meaning “to bother; fret; work (oneself) up.” Origin unknown but perhaps related to ruction, “a vexation or annoyance; also, a disturbance; a row or rumpus,” ruckus, “a disturbance; a commotion,” or one meaning of ruck: “a crowd or throng; especially, a closely packed and indiscriminate crowd or mass of persons or things; a jam; a press,” also known as a loose scrum in rugby.
Today’s word of the day is slitheroo, meaning “to slide with a slow gliding motion; slidder.” The verb slidder, in turn, means “to slip; slide; especially, to slide clumsily or in a gingerly, timorous way” or “to slide with interruption.” Naturally, both words are related to slither, slide, sled, sledge, and sleigh. Rudyard Kipling is one of few people to use the verb slitheroo in print, though thickness of dialect makes even normal language in Captains Courageous hard to decipher.
Today’s word of the day is witticaster, “an inferior or pretended wit; a witling.” In other words, someone who thinks they’re funny even though they’re not. The word is formed by a combination of witty + -aster, the latter part a suffix that indicates approximation, rough similarity, or pretended resemblance. You may have seen it in poetaster, “a petty poet: a feeble rimester, or a writer of indifferent verses,” but it also occurs in a number of less common words. A philsophaster is “a pretender to philosophical knowledge; an incompetent philosopher.” A criticaster is “an inferior or incompetent critic; a petty censurer.” A grammaticaster is “a petty or pitiful grammarian; one who insists upon the minutest grammatical niceties.” A politicaster is “a petty politician; a pretender to political knowledge or influence.” A medicaster is “a pretender to medical knowledge or skill; an ignorant doctor.” A theologaster is “a quack in theology; a shallow or pretended theologian.” Of a slightly different nature—referring to something other than a person—are parasitaster, “an insignificant parasite,” oleaster, a type of wild tree that looks like a type of cultivated olive tree but isn’t, and verticillaster, a flowering part of a plant that looks whorl-like but isn’t a true whorl.
Today’s word of the day is chapfallen, “having the lower chap or jaw depressed; hence, dejected; dispirited; silenced; chagrined.” A less common variant is chopfallen. Both “chap” and “chop” here mean “the upper or lower part of the mouth; the jaw,” also found in the expression “bust someone’s chops,” which is “to tease, taunt, or playfully torment someone,” and mutton chop, “facial hair that has grown down the side of a man’s face in front of the ears (especially when the rest of the beard is shaved off).” Perhaps only pictures can do justice to their glory.
Today’s word of the day is billingsgate, a noun meaning “profane or scurrilous language or abuse; blackguardism.” This curious word comes from Billingsgate, a London fish market described by Charles Dickens as “possessing a language of its own far more incisive and graphic than the ordinary vernacular” and “famous for that vivid interchange of vernacular pleasantry which will engraft its name in the English language for ages.” Dickens may yet be right, but usage of the common noun billingsgate grows exceedingly uncommon while the proper noun Billingsgate continues to thrive.