Vocabulary Rocks!

Ton: -noun Pronounciation: tawn. 1) High fashion; stylishness 2) the current fashion, style, or vogue. Origin: 1755, French/Latin tonus.

The ton meant the upper levels of London society in the Regency period. Ton comes from the French word meaning tone, as in perfect pitch, key, and style. Combined with the French word Bon meaning good, right, and fine – as used in the phrase de bon ton: good manners and fashionable style; tasteful.

Livery: -noun 1) a distinctive uniform, badge, or device formerly provided by someone of rank or title for his retainers, as in time of war. 2) a uniform worn by servants. 3) distinctive attire worn by an official, a member of a company or guild, etc. 4) the care, feeding, stabling, etc., of horses for pay, as in ‘livery stable.’ Origin: 1250–1300, Middle English livere and Old French livree– allowance of food, clothing delivered from a master to his servant.

In the original meaning of the word, from the 1300s, the reference was to all things delivered to a servant, including food and allowances. In time this faded to be specifically a term indicating the clothing worn. The term is also used to describe badges and grander pieces of jewelry containing the heraldic signs of an individual. In the 15th century European royalty sometimes distributed uniform suits of clothes to courtiers, as did certain businesses to all employees. Never was the term associated with a military uniform.

The distinctive standardized outfits were often in a color scheme distinctive to the family, like the coats worn by footmen in grand houses and to provender for horse from which we have inherited ‘livery stable.’ (1705) A male servant’s uniform was modeled on the formal wear of the earlier part of the Georgian period, including: frock coat, knee breeches, white stockings, and pumps (shoes), along with a powdered wig. Grooms attending carriages also wore livery, topped it off with a tricorne hat.


Fortuitous: -adjective 1) happening or produced by chance; accidental. 2) lucky; fortunate. Origin: 1645, Latin fortuitus– otherwise unattested, and fors– chance; akin to fortis– chance, luck.

Usage note: Fortuitous has developed in sense from “happening by chance” to “happening by lucky chance” to simply “lucky, fortunate.” This development was probably influenced by the similarity of fortuitous to fortunate and perhaps to felicitous. Many object to the use of fortuitous to mean simply “fortunate” and insist that it should be limited to its original sense of “accidental.” In modern standard use, however, fortuitous almost always carries the senses both of accident or chance and luck or fortune. It is infrequently used in its sense of “accidental” without the suggestion of good luck, and even less frequently in the sense “lucky” without at least a suggestion of accident or chance.

Virile, Virility: -adjective 1) pertaining to, characteristic of, or befitting a man; masculine; manly. 2) having or exhibiting masculine energy, forcefulness, power, or strength in a marked degree. 3) characterized by a vigorous, masculine spirit. 4) pertaining to, or capable of procreation; performing sexually as a male; potent. Origin: 1480, Latin virilis– manly from vir– man, hero.

I was tempted to just offer ‘Darcy’ as the definition for virile! I think we can all agree that Mr. Darcy, at least in how I have written him, fully embodies each of the four definitions above. Yes?  In Love

2 Comments for Vocabulary Rocks!

  1. I always read with a dictionary at hand. I use one constantly and my hubby used to think I was a moron – and then suddenly started doing it as well. Amazing what you learn when you stop skipping over "them big words"!!! xoxox

  2. Sharon these tidbits are so much fun. Lots of times I think I know what a particular word means or I hazard a guess. But knowing the true meaning and history behind some words is very fascinating to read. Thanks for providing so much education.

    I totally agree with your virile statement. The other meanings are fine but honestly Darcy just somes it all up in a nutshell. He’s just perfection. hahahaha

    TSBO devotee

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