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PostSubject: Word of the Day -   Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:53 am

Idiosyncrasy comes from the Greek: idios “one’s own” and sun-krasis “temperament” or “mixture.” Idiosyncrasy is a peculiar habit or characteristic of an individual or group. It can also refer to mental and physical characteristics. Below you will find examples of the usage:


"This compendium of epithets, pejoratives, blasphemies and obscenities manages to be informal in its style without succumbing to idiosyncrasy or leering." (NY Times)


"As far as I know, the Soviet Union had a pretty good research sector. But it did a miserable job of translating this research into consumer products, or indeed any products, except possibly weapons. You could chalk this up to some idiosyncrasy of the Soviet Union." (The Economist)


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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Oblivion   Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:46 pm

Word of the Day: Oblivion


Oblivion comes from Latim oblivio (to forget). It means the state of being completely forgotten. If something is in oblivion, people forgot about it, or are totally unaware of it.


"Madonna’s last record had bombed, and the onetime undisputed diva, now 47 years old, seemed perilously poised between one last shot at clawing back into the limelight or sliding further into faded stardom–and, more to the point for Warner, commercial oblivion." (CNN)


"Old buildings are marked for oblivion by the Chinese character for “destroy”, chai (it rhymes with sigh), painted on the wall with a big circle round it." (The Economist)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Befuddle   Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:48 pm

Word of the Day: Befuddle


Befuddle (bĭ-fŭd’l) is a verb that means to confuse or to perplex. It can also refer to confusion coming from alcoholic drinks.


"This week the befuddled looks of farmers as Mr Roh’s presidential cavalcade swept up the highway to Pyongyang suggested that Mr Kim had not let all his compatriots in on the historic moment, one for which Mr Roh has begged for years." (The Economist)


"Gov. Hill’s organ, the Albany Times, prints to-night an editorial designed to befuddle the Democrats who are trying to solve the problem connected with the Gubernatorial nomination." (NY Times)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Synergy   Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:50 pm

Word of the Day: Synergy


It would be difficult to open a business book or magazine would coming across this term. Synergy (sĭn’ər-jē) refers to a situation where the combined output of two parts is larger the the sum of their individual outputs. That is, when two plus two equals five. Businessmen often justify mergers or acquisitions with synergies that will emerge from the combined companies.


"But in fact hard evidence for the synergies that such deals are supposed to bring is scarce." (The Economist)


"This is a natural synergy that really ought to be part of how we approach curriculum design in these two fields most of the time." (Washington Post)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Turmoil   Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:52 pm

Word of the Day: Turmoil


Turmoil (tûr’moil’), the verb, means to harass or to disturb. It is more widely used as a noun, however, where it means a state of confusion, agitation or tumult. A labor strike, for instance, can create turmoil inside a country.


"Even the people most at fault for the recent turmoil—the creators of the collateralised-debt obligations (CDOs) and conduits that spread subprime-mortgage debt around the financial system—may end the year with new Porsches." (The Economist)


"But in a country besieged by a brutal insurgency and economic turmoil, the public’s patience is wearing thin." (Washington Post)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Algorithm   Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:53 pm

Word of the Day: Algorithm


An algorithm (ăl’gə-rĭTH’əm) is a procedure defined to solve a problem, usually structured in steps. The algorithm takes an input, carries the steps and then produces an output. Google, for instance, uses an algorithm to find the most relevant web pages on the Internet whenever your perform a search query.


"Algorithms sound scary, of interest only to dome-headed mathematicians. In fact they have become the instruction manuals for a host of routine consumer transactions. Browse for a book on Amazon.com and algorithms generate recommendations for other titles to buy. Buy a copy and they help a logistics firm to decide on the best delivery route." (The Economist)


"The project, which was started by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, consists of four components, the indexing of the Web, developing a search engine application, an algorithm, and using people to help filter sites and rank results." (PC World)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Meritocracy   Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:54 pm

Word of the Day: Meritocracy


Meritocracy (mĕr’ĭ-tŏk’rə-sē) is a system where the advancement of individuals is based on their performance and ability. American companies, for instance, are said to be more meritocratic than Italian ones, where nepotism (family connections) prevail.


"Yet if you look beyond party politics at some of the things that have distinguished America—mobility, immigration, meritocracy, volunteerism—a more confusing image emerges: not so much one of division but of a centrifuge." (The Economist)


"At the other end of the story, in both time and space, is Molly Munger, boomer, feminist lawyer in the era of Clinton, whose dedication to the meritocratic dream came unstuck in the Los Angeles riots of 1992." (NY Times)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Ambivalent   Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:56 pm

Word of the Day: Ambivalent


Ambivalent (ăm-bĭv’ə-lənt) is an adjective used to characterize things that have conflicting feelings or attitudes. If you are ambivalent about politics, for example, you have opposite feelings about it.


"Google evokes ambivalent feelings. Some users now keep their photos, blogs, videos, calendars, e-mail, news feeds, maps, contacts, social networks, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and credit-card information—in short, much of their lives—on Google’s computers." (The Economist)


"What we find troubling is that there is a substantial proportion of young people in Russia today who hold positive or ambivalent views on Stalin and his legacy." (Reuters)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Conundrum   Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:58 pm

Word of the Day: Conundrum


Conundrum (kə-nŭn’drəm) is a very difficult or insoluble problem. It can also refer to a riddle whose answer is a pun, a paradox or an enigma.


"But we have heard a lot less about these debt-market disciplinarians in recent years. Instead, bond yields have been puzzlingly low, a conundrum that taxed even Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman." (The Economist)


"Keeping employees satisfied and productive is the age-old management conundrum on which the experts rarely agree. The prestige/satisfaction link is no exception." (USA Today)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Tacit   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:02 pm

Word of the Day: Tacit


Tacit refers to something that is implied by actions or statements. A tacit agreement, for instance, is one where either the offer or the acceptance are to be inferred from a particular conduct. It comes from the Latin tacitus, which means silent.


"This was a tacit acknowledgement that recent money-market interventions had failed to cap the unusually high rates banks were charging each other for one-month and three-month loans." (The Economist)


"By the time the Administration gave its tacit assent to Iranian arms shipments into Bosnia and Herzegovina, weapons already were flowing from Teheran to the Government in Sarajevo, Anthony Lake, President Clinton’s national security adviser, said today." (NY Times)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Beleaguer   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:03 pm

Word of the Day: Beleaguer


Beleaguer (bĭ-lē’gər) means to harass or disturb repeatedly. It can also refer to a siege of enemy troops. If you are beleaguered, therefore, you are being harassed or surrounded by difficulties.


"For beleaguered travellers this could mean another of Heathrow’s famous days of inaction." (The Economist)


"The Nobel Prize-winner on his lifework, his numerous exiles and his contempt for the tyrants who beleaguer his Nigerian homeland." (Washington Post)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Resilience   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:04 pm

Word of the Day: Resilience


Resilience (rĭ-zĭl’yəns) is the ability to recover quickly from changes or misfortunes. It can also be used as a synonym for flexibility, referring both to people and objects. If a company has resilience, for instance, it is able to handle crises effectively.


"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Tuesday and praised him for his resilience in tackling Lebanon’s many problems, a State Department official said." (Reuters)


"Shimmying in her wheelchair, attacking her songs with spunk and craftiness, Ms. Baker ignored her condition. She used the resilience of the blues to invoke pleasure as both a fond memory and a continuing possibility." (NY Times)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Recoil   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:05 pm

Word of the Day: Recoil

When you recoil (rĭ-koil’) from something you move away from it because it gives you an unpleasant feeling, disgust or pain. It can also refer to an object that bounces back or to an action that backfires.


"Yet Bear Stearns, like many other firms on Wall Street, jumped into the market for bonds that backed subprime, or high-risk, mortgages, offering a slew of racy fund products, one of which hit the market last August, just before the markets began to recoil from subprime assets." (NY Times)


"Bush supporters strategically use the word “defeat” as a club to intimidate members of Congress who dare challenge the president’s new strategy. They count on the fact that politicians will recoil from this most wicked of words." (USE Today)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Pyrrhic   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:06 pm

Word of the Day: Pyrrhic


Pyrrhic (p1r’1k), the noun, is a metrical unit. It is used more widely as an adjective, however, as in “pyrrhic victory,” which means a victory with huge costs. It makes reference to Pyrrhus from Epirus, who sustained great losses in order to defeat the Roman army.


"Mr Murdoch has, however, paid a high price for Dow Jones—at least $1 billion, and perhaps $2 billion more than appears justified by the fundamentals of the business—so News Corporation’s shareholders may come to regard his victory as pyrrhic." (The Economist)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Wax   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:08 pm

Word of the Day: Wax


Wax has several meanings. The noun refers to oily substances that are soluble in organic solvents but not in water. You can use wax on your car (or wax the car), for instance. The verb to wax, however, can also mean to increase or advance, as in “waxing moon.”


"Applying a coating of wax to fruits and vegetables may also help to slow the loss of some nutrients." (NYTimes.com)


"Immortal were the Elves, and their wisdom waxed from age to age, and no sickness nor pestilence brought death to them." (J.R.R. Tolkien – The Silmarillion)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Brisk   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:09 pm

Word of the Day: Brisk


Brisk is an adjective that refers to something marked by speed or energy. A brisk tea, for instance, is an invigorating tea. If you walk briskly, you are walking fast or vigorously.


"The sound of her iron shoes upon the hard road was quite musical, as she came along at a much brisker trot than usual." (Charles Dickers – Great Expectations)
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PostSubject: Word of the day: Trave   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:10 pm

Word of the day: Trave

Trave [treyv] means either a crossbeam or a device to inhibit wild horses or hold them to be shod.

Its origin is uncertain but is from around 1350-1400, and it might derive from Middle English via Middle French (1) from the Latin trabem (beam, timbers) or (2) from the same root as travail or travois.
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PostSubject: Word oif the Dat - Trave   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:11 pm

Hi Rem,

Love that one.  I wonder what the oldest word we can find is that's still in use.  Great find!

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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Ombudsman   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:16 pm

Word of the Day: Ombudsman


Ombudsman (ŏm’bŭdz’mən) is a term that appeared in Sweden and then was integrated into many other languages. Originally, it used to refer to an official that investigates the complaints from the citizens against the government.

Nowadays, the term can also be used to describe any independent and impartial person used by private or public organizations to watch for administrative abuses. Many mainstream publications, for instance, use an ombudsman to promote journalistic integrity.


"The terms of the ombudsman’s contract gives him complete freedom to criticize any way he wants without fear of being canned, but Bill Keller & Co. aren’t under any obligation to answer his questions, other than the pressure of public opinion." (WashingtonPost.com)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Rhetoric   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:17 pm

Word of the Day: Rhetoric



Rhetoric (rĕt’ər-ĭk) is the skill of using language effectively or persuasively. It comes from the Greek rhêtôr (orator). Notice that rhetoric was one of the three original liberal arts in Greece, together with dialectic and grammar.


"As the debate about media ownership has moved to Congress during the last two months, the tone of the rhetoric has grown increasingly shrill." (NY Times)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Pedantic   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:20 pm

Word of the Day: Pedantic



Pedantic (pə-dăn’tĭk) is an adjective that represents an excessive concern for precision and formal rules. It can also refer to the ostentation of knowledge.


"It was his thoroughness, pedantic attention to detail and quest for perfection that set Charlesworth apart from other coaches." (CNN Sports)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Bipartisan   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:23 pm

Word of the Day: Bipartisan

Bipartisan (bī-pär’tĭ-zən) is used to indicate that something is created or supported by both sides. Usually, it refers to the major political parties in a country.


"Mr. Bush turned down bipartisan calls to woo Iran and Syria. Instead, he accused those countries of instigating the violence in Iraq." (The Economist)


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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Furtive   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:24 pm

Word of the Day: Furtive



Furtive (fûr’tìv) is an adjective used to express caution or secrecy. Synonyms include stealthy and surreptitious. It comes from the Latim furtum (theft).


"Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess…" (George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Pedantic   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:26 pm

Word of the Day: Pedantic



Pedantic (pə-dăn’tĭk) is an adjective that represents an excessive concern for precision and formal rules. It can also refer to the ostentation of knowledge.


"It was his thoroughness, pedantic attention to detail and quest for perfection that set Charlesworth apart from other coaches."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Trudge   Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:27 pm

Word of the Day: Trudge


Trudge (trŭj) means to walk slowly, heavily or in a laborious way. It can also be used as a noun, referring to a long or cumbersome walk.


"As the number of risky mortgage borrowers being turfed out of their homes escalates, so does the rate of Wall Street chief executives trudging dejectedly out of their corner offices." (The Economist)


"Mrs. Roosevelt, who invariably accompanies the President at church, chose to trudge the three miles to Sagamore Hill by her husband’s side rather than drive home in the comfortable and covered family carriage." (NY Times)
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