Word of the Day : November 7, 2018

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 derring 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

"They're two of the most celebrated climbers in the world, struggling to find the right words to describe an astonishing act of human derring-do: On June 3, 2017, Honnold ascended the Freerider route of El Capitan, a nearly 3,000-foot rock face in Yosemite National Park, noted for its glassy-smooth granite and holds that extend only to the fingertips. And he did it all without a rope." — Scott Tobias, The New York Magazine, 26 Sept. 2018

"But Ben Macintyre, a journalist who specialises in books about spies and derring-do, has crafted his story as a real-life thriller, as tense as John le Carré's novels, or even Ian Fleming's.… 'The Spy and the Traitor' is a gripping reconstruction, even for those with only a cursory interest in the secret world." — The Economist, 22 Sept. 2018



Test Your Vocabulary

Unscramble the letters to create the last name of a hero in a popular 1905 novel which eventually became the term for a person who rescues others from mortal danger by smuggling them across a border (hint: Scarlet is the first name): LPIENRMPE.

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