Words of the Week - April 15

Dictionary lookups from Ukraine, New York City, and Easter
small ship with flag

In the right light this is a flagship


Juneteenth spiked in lookups after the mayor of New York announced that this yearly celebration would be observed as a paid holiday in that city.

Adams Declares Juneteenth a Paid New York City Holiday
— (headline) West Side Rag, 12 Apr. 2022

We define Juneteenth as “June 19 celebrated especially in Texas to commemorate the belated announcement there of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865.” We sometimes hear people say that this must be a recent holiday, since they have never heard of it. If this word is new to you it may be worth bearing in mind that it is not new to many other people (our lookups for this word spike every year). There is considerable citational evidence, going back over a hundred years, of the word not only being used, but being used in reference to large-scale celebrations, some with thousands of attendants (all of whom, presumably, had heard of Juneteenth).

Known throughout the southland as “Juneteenth,” as dear to the negro’s heart as water to a duck, yesterday, Saturday, June 19, passed off the calendar with the entire negro population of Austin and Travis county celebrating near this city.

— The Austin Statesman, 20 Jun. 1909

June 19th, or, as it is humorously referred to, “Juneteenth,” is the day the news of the emancipation proclamation reached Texas, so annually the day is celebrated much as we do Fourth of July.

— Chicago Defender, 3 Jul. 1915

Thousands of Austin and Central Texas negroes will celebrate “Juneteenth” or Emancipation Day Monday in a mammoth observance at Rosewood park starting at 6 a.m. and continuing until 1 a.m. Tuesday.

— The Austin American (Austin, TX), 18 Jun. 1944

Laughter and music filled the air as a jubilant crowd gathered yesterday outside the Community Medical Center in Southeast San Diego to celebrate Juneteenth, a traditional black independence day.

— Emmet Pierce, The San Diego Union, 16 Jun. 1985

’Maundy Thursday’

In other date-related news, Maundy Thursday was looked up considerably more than it is during months which do not contain Easter.

Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla Fill in For the Queen at Maundy Thursday
Vanity Fair, 14 Apr. 2022

Maundy Thursday is “the Thursday before Easter observed in commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist.” Maundy by itself can mean “a ceremony of washing the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday,” “alms distributed in connection with the maundy ceremony or on Maundy Thursday,” or “a feast.” Maundy may be traced to the Latin mandatum (meaning “command, order”), from the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples after washing their feet at the Last Supper: "a new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.”


Rapprochement was also in the news last week, after being used by a French politician who hopes to win an election.

Le Pen, who on April 24 faces President Emmanuel Macron in a runoff vote, said there should be a “strategic rapprochement” between NATO and Russia once the war launched by Moscow against Ukraine ended.
Al Jazeera, 13 Apr. 2022

A rapprochement is “the establishment of or state of having cordial relations.” The word came to English directly from French, slightly over 200 years ago. It may be pronounced much as it is in French, in which case the T at the end is not voiced, or in an anglicized fashion, in which case the T is overt.


Flagship found itself in numerous headlines last week, after a Russian ship which might be described as such was reported to have been severely damaged and sunk.

Russian officials said their flagship Black Sea vessel was “seriously damaged” in what Ukrainian officials claimed was a missile strike against the warship Moskva.
— Niamh Cavanagh, Yahoo, 14 Apr. 2022

Flagship has an extremely literal meaning and a much more figurative one. The literal meaning came first, and since the 17th century has referred to “the ship that carries the commander of a fleet or subdivision of a fleet and flies the commander's flag.” The figurative meaning, which is often used before another noun (“the finest, largest, or most important one of a group of things (such as products, stores, etc.) has been in use since the early 20th century.

’Price gouging’

Price gouging was on the minds of many, after ride-sharing companies raised their prices in a New York City neighborhood from which many people were attempting to flee (due to a mass shooting in the subway).

Uber & Lyft Slammed for Price Gouging After NYC Subway Shooting
— (Headline) Gizmodo, 13 Apr. 2022

There is not a great deal of semantic territory to be covered with price gouging: it means “charging customers too much money.” Gouge, by itself, can carry a very similar meaning (“to make (someone) pay too much for something”), in addition to meanings such as “to thrust the thumb into the eye of,” and “a groove or cavity scooped out.” Gouge may be traced to the Late Latin word gubia, meaning “hollow chisel.”

Words you should know: ‘Antipelargy’

This week’s words is not defined in our dictionary, but is lovely enough that we want to share it anyway. Antepelargy was defined by Thomas Blount in 1656 in his great dictionary Glossographia as “the reciprocal love of chil­dren to their Parents, or (more generally) any requital or mutual kindness.” We hope you all have weekends filled with antipelargy.