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April 27, 2010

Word of the Day

  • soi-disant
  • audio pronunciation
  • \swah-dee-ZAHNG (the NG is not pronounced, but the vowel is nasalized)\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

: self-proclaimed, so-called
  • EXAMPLES

"It's one of the few soi-disant walking boots we've seen this month that you might be able to, you know, walk in." (The Times [London], March 3, 2010)

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Soi-disant," which in French means literally "saying oneself," is one of hundreds of French terms that entered English in the 17th and 18th centuries, during the period known as the Enlightenment. Even as political antipathies between France and England were being played out on battlefields in Europe and America, English speakers were peppering their speech and writing with French. "Soi-disant" first began appearing in English texts in 1752 as a disparaging term for someone who styles or fancies him- or herself in some role. "Crepe," "vis-a-vis," "etiquette," and "sang-froid" are a few of the other French terms that became naturalized in English at that time.

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