Word of the Day : April 14, 2012

derring-do

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noun dair-ing-DOO

Definition

: daring action : daring

Did You Know?

"Derring-do" is a quirky holdover from Middle English that came to occupy its present place in the language by a series of mistakes and misunderstandings. In Middle English, "dorring don" meant simply "daring to do." For example, Geoffrey Chaucer used "dorring don" around 1374 when he described a knight "daring to do" brave deeds. The phrase was misprinted as "derrynge do" in a 16th-century edition of a 15th-century work by poet John Lydgate, and Edmund Spenser took it up from there, assuming it was meant as a substantive or noun phrase. (A glossary to Spenser's work defined it as "manhood and chevalrie.") Sir Walter Scott and others in the 19th century got the phrase from Spenser and brought it into modern use.


Examples

In a spectacular feat of derring-do, the stuntman leaped from the overpass and landed on top of the train as it passed below.

"It's a bit of a letdown when, near its end, the book reverts to more conventional Bond-style derring-do, as our hero struggles to recapture the warheads and save Isabella from the villains…." - From a book review by Patrick Anderson in The Washington Post, January 16, 2012



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