John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Word stuff: Factotum


A servant or a low-level employee tasked with many things.

From Latin factotum, from facere (to do) + totus (all). Earliest documented use: 1573. 

Advise for writers: simplify


The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. -Hans Hofmann, painter (1880-1966) 

Word stuff: kamikaze


Someone who behaves in a reckless, self-destructive manner.

From Japanese kamikaze (divine wind), from kami (god, divinity) + kaze (wind). Earliest documented use: 1896.

In Japanese folklore, kamikaze was the divine wind that destroyed a Mongol invasion fleet under Kublai Khan. In World War II, the kamikaze were suicidal attacks by Japanese pilots who crashed their planes on an enemy target such as a ship. 

Word stuff: Tycoon


A wealthy and powerful person, especially in business or politics.

From Japanese taikun (great lord or prince), from Chinese ta (great) + kiun (prince). Earliest documented use: 1857. 

It is as easy to dream a book

It is as easy to dream a book as it is hard to write one. -Honore de Balzac, novelist (1799-1850)

Word Stff: interlocutors

 (in-tuhr-LOK-yuh-tuhr, -yoo-) 

One who takes part in a conversation or dialogue, especially as a representative of an organization.

From Latin inter- (between) + loqui (to speak). Earliest documented use: 1518. 

Word stuff: Itinerant


traveling from place to place; especially : covering a circuit

 In Latin, "iter" means "way" or "journey." That root was the parent of the Late Latin verb "itinerari," meaning "to journey." It was that verb which ultimately gave rise to today's English word for traveling types: "itinerant." The linguistic grandsire, "iter," also contributed to the development of other words in our vocabulary, including "itinerary" ("the route of a journey" and "the plan made for a journey") and "errant" ("traveling or given to traveling").

Word stuff: confrere


Colleague; a fellow member of a profession, fraternity, etc.

From Latin con- (with) + frater (brother). Other cousins of this word, derived from the same Indo-European root bhrater- (brother), are brother, pal, fraternal, and bully. Earliest documented use: 1425. 

Word stuff: Respite


a period of temporary delay,  an interval of rest or relief

 "Respite" traces from the Latin term "respectus," which comes from a verb meaning, both literally and figuratively, "to turn around to look at" or "to regard." By the 14th century, we had granted "respite" the sense we use most often today—"a welcome break."

Word Stuff: Protege

PRO-tuh-zhay, pro-tuh-ZHAY 

One who is protected, guided, and supported by somebody older and more experienced.

From French protégé, past participle of protéger (to protect), from Latin protegere, from pro- + tegere (cover). Ultimately from Indo-European root (s)teg- (to cover), which is the ancestor of other words such as tile, thatch, protect, detect, and toga. Earliest documented use: 1786. 

Word Stuff: Metonymy


a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated

Metonymy derived via Latin from Greek "metonymia" (from "meta-," meaning "among, with, or after," and "onyma," meaning "name"), metonymy often appears in news articles and headlines, as when journalists use the term "crown" to refer to a king or queen.