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Friday, 15 February 2013


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Your word for today is: almanac, n.

[‘An annual table, or (more usually) a book of tables, containing a calendar of months and days, with astronomical data and calculations, ecclesiastical and other anniversaries, and other information, including astrological and meteorological forecasts. Cf. ephemeris n. 2,  3.’]

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈɔːlmənak/, /ˈɒlmənak/, /ˈalmənak/,  U.S. /ˈɔlməˌnæk/, /ˈælməˌnæk/, /ˈɑlməˌnæk/
Forms:   ME almenak,   ME almonak,   ME almynake,   ME– almanac,   lME armanac,   lME armanak,   15 amminick,   15–16 almanach,   15–16 almanache,   15–16 almanacke,   15–16 almanak,   15–16 almanake,   15–16 alminack,   15–18 (19– arch.almanack,   16 allmanacke,   16 alminake,   16 (18– U.S. regionalalmanick,   17–18 alminick N. Amer.,   19– U.S. regional amanik;   also Sc.  pre-17 almanak
Etymology: < (i) Middle French almanacalmanachalmenach (French almanach, †almanac) calendar containing astronomical data and astrological predictions (1303 in Old French),
and its etymon (ii) post-classical Latin almanacalmanach (from 12th cent. in continental sources, from 13th cent. in British sources) <  Spanish Arabic al-manāḵ <  al the + manāḵ calendar (13th cent. in Vocabulista, glossed ‘cubile’ and ‘kalendarium’; also 15th cent. in Pedro de Alcalá, who gives the Arabic noun as a gloss for Spanish almanaque), further etymology uncertain and disputed:
perhaps (i) a variant (with specific semantic development) of classical Arabic munāḵ place where a camel kneels, station on a journey, halt at the end of a day's travel, hence (in extended use) place of residence (see further below);
or perhaps (ii) <  Syriac lĕ-manḥay in the next year (Peshitta, Luke 13:9), with reanalysis of the preposition  ‘to’ as the Arabic definite article al (so J. Bidez ‘Le nom et l'origine de nos almanachs’, in Mélanges Émile Boisacq (1937)  I. 77–85).
Classical Arabic munāḵ is the verbal noun of 'anāḵa to make (a camel) kneel; it functions as a noun of action (i.e. ‘halt at the end of a day's travel’) and a noun of place (i.e. ‘stopping place’). The assumed semantic development from the concrete classical Arabic senses of the verbal noun to the sense ‘calendar’ has a parallel in the semantic development of climate n.1; in fact, munāḵmanāḵ is the usual modern standard Arabic word for ‘climate’.
Compare Occitan almanac (1548 as †almanatz), Catalan almanac (14th cent.), Spanish almanaque (first quarter of the 15th cent.), Portuguese almanaque (15th cent. as †almenaque), Italian almanacco (a1348 as †almanaco in sense 1, 1725 in sense 2); also Middle Dutch almanag (1426; Dutch almanak, †almanack), Middle Low German almanakalmenakalmanachalmenach, etc., German Almanach(early 15th cent.; <  Middle Dutch).

Alternative suggestions for the ulterior etymology.
It has also sometimes been suggested that post-classical Latin almanacalmanach is derived <  Hellenistic Greek ἀλμενιχιακά (neuter plural), denoting an astrological treatise (4th cent. a.d.: Eusebius De Praeparatio Evangelica 3. 4, citing Porphyrius concerning the Egyptian belief in astrology, in horoscopes, and so-called lords of the ascendant, ‘whose names are given in the almenichiaka, with their various powers to cure diseases, their risings and settings, and their presages of things future’). However, this Greek form in the text of Eusebius probably shows a scribal error for an original neuter plural noun σαλμεσχινιακά, which is of unknown origin.
Variant pronunciations.
Pronunciations with reduction of the unstressed vowels in the second or third syllable, or in both of these syllables, to /ɪ/ are widespread in regional and nonstandard use.
 1.  An annual table, or (more usually) a book of tables, containing a calendar of months and days, with astronomical data and calculations, ecclesiastical and other anniversaries, and other information, including astrological and meteorological forecasts. Cf. ephemeris n. 2,  3.
Early almanacs were permanent tables of the apparent motions of the sun and moon, from which astronomical data for any year could be calculated. In the 15th cent. almanacs began to be prepared for definite periods, such as 10 or 30 years, and in the 16th cent. for the year. From this period astrological and meteorological predictions were also included, alongside other information.
Although many almanacs are now published in which useful facts and statistics of a general or subject-specific nature form the chief content of the works (see sense 2), almanacs of the traditional kind continue to be produced.
See also nautical almanac n.Old Moore's Almanac at Moore n.1 1perpetual almanac n. at perpetual adj.adv., and n. Special uses.
c1392 Equatorie of Planetis 38 To knowe the latitude of the mone..loke in thyn almenak.
c1400 (1391)  Chaucer Treat. Astrolabe (Cambr. Dd.3.53) (1872) Prol. 3 A table of the verray Moeuyng of the Mone from howre to howre, euery day & in euery signe, after thin Almenak.
?c1450 (1388)  tr. Richard of Wallingford Exafrenon (Digby) f 6, When þu hast made equatione of the it tables þat ar callid Armanac.
1487  W. Dalton Let. 12 Mar. in Cely Lett. (1975) 229, I..sent you the letter of payment wyth a pronostication and an almynake of the making of master John Laete.
1508 Almanacke for xii. yere (W. de Worde), This almanacke and table shall endure .xii. yere and is calked after the latytude of Oxenforde, & it is taken out of the grete ephymerides or almanacke of .xxx. yere.
1543   (titleAn almanacke moste exactly sette foorth for the terme of xiiii. yeres, shewing in what date, houre, minute, signe, and degre, the moone shall bee at the tyme of her chaunge and full, with the eclipse of the sunne and moone, from the date of our Lorde MD xliiii, vnto the date of our Lorde MD lvii. Imprinted by Richarde Grafton.
1587  H. Baker  (titleRules and documentes touching the vse and practise of the common almanaches, which are called ephemerides.
1601  B. Jonson Every Man in his Humor iii. i. sig. F4, These filthy Almanacks, for and't were not for them, these daies of persecution would ne're bee knowne.
1653  I. Walton Compl. Angler To Rdr. 5 They that make Hay by the fair dayes in Almanacks.
1663  A. Cowley Ess. in Verse & Prose (1669) 126 He does not look in Almanacks to see, Whether he Fortunate shall be.
1703  S. Clough  (titleThe New-England, almanack for the year of our Lord MDCCIII... Calculated for the meridian of Boston the metropolis of New England..but may serve any part of the country (even as far as New York) without sensible error.
1716  J. Addison Freeholder No. 22. 127 My Friend perceiving by his Almanack that the Moon was up..left me.
1799   (titleCitizen and farmer's almanac, for the year 1800... Containing, (besides the astronomical calculations by Joshua Sharp,) the Alien and sedition laws.
1802  R. Southey St. Antidius in Wks. VI. 161 There was an eclipse that night, Which was not in the Almanack.
1823 N. Eng. Farmer 10 May 328/1 My almanac has prophesied thy [sc. spring's] coming.
1876 All Year Round 29 Apr. 150/2 The almanac will cast your nativity and give you the numbers in the state-lottery.
1921 Poultry Item Sept 21/2, I am amazed to find people even in this enlightened time who are studying what the almanac says the weather is likely to be tomorrow or a month ahead!
1941 Boys' Life June 17/1 According to the Almanac, the sun enters the constellation of the Crab on Midsummers Day, the twenty-first of June.
2006  R. Welsch My Nebraska iii. 79, I don't care what the almanac says, believe me, there will be an ‘unseasonable frost’ or raging floods on rivers that haven't seen water in decades.
 2.  A handbook, typically published annually, freq. presenting a chronological account of recent events, and containing information and statistics of general interest or on a particular subject, esp. a sport or pastime.
Early almanacs of this kind also included astronomical and calendrical data, as in sense 1.
1839   (titleThe sporting almanac.
1863  A. W. Kinglake Invasion of Crimea I. vii. 96 A Prince of the sort which Court almanacs describe as ‘Serene’.
1916   (titleThe motorists' almanac for 1917 anno domini containing much entertainment and not a few facts of concern and interest to all intelligent motorists.
1958 Rotarian Jan. 47/3 The Almanac will provide food for thought and reflection year after year.
1973 New Yorker 24 Feb. 36/1 The World Almanac and Book of Facts is a small buoy indeed but one that, whenever we stop to read it, ties us up for several hours.
2004  S. Rimington At Risk (2006) xviii. 129 There was an entire bookcase of Wisden's cricket almanacs.
 almanac-maker n.
1596  T. Nashe Haue with you to Saffron-Walden sig. L3vWhat, a graue Doctor, a base Iohn Doleta the Almanack-maker, Doctor Deuse-ace and Doctor Mery-man?
1708  Swift Predict. for 1708 3 The Almanack-maker has the liberty of chusing the sickliest Season of the Year.
1850 Mechanics' Mag. 16 Feb. 125/1 The publication..must be particularly beneficial to the whole host of almanack makers who treat on astronomical subjects.
2005 Newcastle (Austral.) Herald (Nexis) 23 Dec 9, I appear to have been slightly amiss with some of my prognostications but, in the great tradition of almanac-makers, I am not going to let that stop me.
 almanac-making n.
1650  N. Ward Discolliminium 30 My skill in Almanack-making.
1895 Nation 14 Feb. 125/1 Since Poor Richard, Americans cannot be said to have shown a genius for almanac-making.
1994 Philadelphia Inquirer (Nexis) 29 Nov. bFinkel will offer anecdotes from the history of almanac-making and recount how he edited the almanac.
 almanac man n.
1631  B. Jonson Divell is Asse i. vii. 111 in Wks. II, A monei'd man, Sir, And is as great with your Almanack-Men, as you are.
1672  J. Eachard Mr. Hobbs's State Nature Considered 77 A meer humane institution of the Almanack-men.
1876  M. Adeler Elbow-room xvi. 211 He determined to give the almanac-man one more chance, and soon as they [sc. sheep] began to jump the fence he began to count.
1995 New Straits Times (Malaysia) (Nexis) 13 May 31 The almanac man who knows the most auspicious days for vacations, weddings, construction projects, moving house or surgery.
 almaˈnackic adj. of, belonging, or relating to an almanac.
1852 Punch 22 45/2 Any one or our Almanackic Zadkiels who will rashly risk his prophetic reputation.
1888 Sat. Rev. 13 Oct. 447/2 Almanackic information as to the year that is past and the years that are to come.
1975 Black World Jan. 48 Those in another world somewhere, dazed, May watch a comet strike across the night, And, in some different almanackic way, Record our final flight.

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