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PostSubject: Word of the Day   Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:43 pm

Word of the Day: Kvell
  
  
verb 

 

Definition

: to be extraordinarily proud : rejoice

Examples

Critics kvelled over the violinist's triumphant return to the stage where she had made her debut many years ago.

"My older brother, by two years and nine months, was a loving uncle who absolutely kvelled over his two nephews and was always asking me when I was next bringing them to San Francisco to see him." — Lincoln Mitchell, The New York Observer, 28 Oct. 2014

 


Did You Know?

We are pleased to inform you that the word kvell is derived from Yiddish kveln, meaning "to be delighted," which, in turn, comes from the Middle High German word quellen, meaning "to well, gush, or swell." Yiddish has been a wellspring of creativity for English, giving us such delightful words as meister ("one who is knowledgeable about something"), maven ("expert"), and shtick ("one's special activity"), just to name a few. The date for the appearance of kvell in the English language is tricky to pinpoint exactly. The earliest known printed evidence for the word in an English source is found in a 1952 handbook of Jewish words and expressions, but actual usage evidence before that date remains unseen.


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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Dolorous   Sun Jun 19, 2016 6:34 pm

Word of the Day: Dolorous
 
  
adjective  
 

Definition

: causing, marked by, or expressing misery or grief

Examples

With his dolorous songs about hard-bitten people down on their luck, Johnny Cash garnered legions of fans across generations.

"I felt myself sinking now and then into a dolorous state in which I allowed myself to succumb to a deep despair about life here…." — Alan Cheuse, Song of Slaves in the Desert, 2011

 


Did You Know?

"No medicine may prevail … till the same dolorous tooth be … plucked up by the roots." When dolorous first appeared around 1400, it was linked to physical pain—and appropriately so, since the word is a descendant of the Latin word dolor, meaning "pain" as well as "grief." (Today, dolor is also an English word meaning "sorrow.") When the British surgeon John Banister wrote the above quotation in 1578, dolorous could mean either "causing pain" or "distressful, sorrowful." "The death of the earl [was] dolorous to all Englishmen," the English historian Edward Hall had written a few decades earlier. The "causing pain" sense of dolorous coexisted with the "sorrowful" sense for centuries, but nowadays its use is rare.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Heliolatry   Mon Jun 20, 2016 7:52 pm

Word of the Day: Heliolatry

  
noun  


 

Definition

: sun worship

Examples

Archeologists believe that the members of the ancient civilization practiced heliolatry because each temple faced east, toward the rising sun.

"An observer would assume that all of us—humans and shorebirds alike—are guilty of heliolatry…. We had endured a series of dark, gloomy, winter days, during which the sun had been continually hidden behind dense, rain clouds. Now that the sun has emerged from its cloudy cave, the beach is bathed in brilliant sunshine." — George Thatcher, The Biloxi (Mississippi) Sun Herald, 22 Jan. 2013


Did You Know?

The first half of heliolatry derives from helios, the Greek word for "sun." In Greek mythology, Helios was the god of the sun, imagined as "driving" the sun as a chariot across the sky. From helios we also get the word helium, referring to the very light gas that is used in balloons and airships, and heliocentric, meaning "having or relating to the sun as center," as in "a heliocentric orbit." The suffix -latry, meaning "worship," derives via Late Latin and French from the Greek latreia, and can be found in such words as bardolatry ("worship of Shakespeare") and zoolatry ("animal worship"). A person who worships the sun is called a heliolater.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day:Inchoate   Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:27 pm

Word of the Day:Inchoate

 
Definition

: being only partly in existence or operation : incipient; especially : imperfectly formed or formulated : formless, incoherent

Examples

Five years ago, the restaurant was merely an inchoate notion in Nathan's head; today it is one of the most popular eateries in the city.

"The nexus point in any populist upwelling is whether or not it evolves from an inchoate outrage into a legitimate movement." — Gene Altshuler, The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California), 2 Mar. 2016



Did You Know?

Inchoate derives from inchoare, which means "to start work on" in Latin but translates literally as "to hitch up." Inchoare was formed from the prefix in- and the noun cohum, which refers to the part of a yoke to which the beam of a plow is fitted. The concept of implementing this initial step toward the larger task of plowing a field can help provide a clearer understanding of inchoate, an adjective used to describe the imperfect form of something (such as a plan or idea) in its early stages of development. Perhaps because it looks a little like the word chaos (although the two aren't closely related), inchoate now not only implies the formlessness that often marks beginnings but also the confusion caused by chaos.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Feign   Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:37 am

Word of the Day: Feign

  
verb  

 

Definition

1 : to give a false appearance of : to induce as a false impression

2 : to assert as if true : pretend

Examples

"If a predator approaches the nest, the parent feigns a broken wing, often leading the predator far from the nest before bursting into flight, the injured wing suddenly fully functional." — Jan Bergstrom, The St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times, 7 May 2016

"The local high school … wasn't of particularly high quality, and I was not intellectually stimulated or motivated there. In fact, I became disinterested, started skipping class and feigning illness to avoid going to school." — Brian Calle, The Oange County (California) Register, 8 May 2016

 



Did You Know?

Feign is all about faking it, but that hasn't always been so. In one of its earliest senses, feign meant "to fashion, form, or shape." That meaning is true to the term's Latin ancestor: the verb fingere, which also means "to shape." The current senses of feign still retain the essence of the Latin source, since to feign something, such as surprise or an illness, requires one to fashion an impression or shape an image. Several other English words that trace to the same ancestor refer to things that are shaped with either the hands, as in figure and effigy, or the imagination, as in fiction and figment.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Genius   Thu Jun 23, 2016 9:02 pm

Word of the Day: Genius
 
  
noun  


 

Definition

1 : a single strongly marked capacity or aptitude

2 : extraordinary intellectual power especially as manifested in creative activity

3 : a person endowed with transcendent mental superiority; especially : a person with a very high IQ

Examples

"An airplane mechanic in World War II, my father had a genius for anything mechanical. He would overhaul an engine at the drop of a hat." — Jack McCall, The Hartsville (Tennessee) Vidette, 28 Apr. 2016

"By the time Purple Rain was released, Prince's overt sexiness, inventive style, technical brilliance, and musical genius had established an irrefutable fact: He was the new James Brown." — Simon Doonan, Slate.com, 26 Apr. 2016

 
Did You Know?

The belief system of the ancient Romans included spirits that were somewhere in between gods and humans and were thought to accompany each person through life as a protector. The Latin name for this spirit was genius, which came from the verb gignere, meaning "to beget." This sense of "attendant spirit" was first borrowed into English in the 14th century. Part of such a spirit's role was to protect a person's moral character, and from that idea an extended sense developed in the 16th century meaning "an identifying character." In time, that meaning was extended to cover a special ability for doing something, and eventually genius acquired senses referring particularly to "very great intelligence" and "people of great intelligence."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Hermetic   Fri Jun 24, 2016 9:27 pm

Word of the Day: Hermetic
 
  
adjective  

 

Definition

1 : relating to or characterized by occultism or abstruseness : recondite

2 a : airtight 

b : impervious to external influence

c : recluse, solitary

Examples

The infomercial claimed that the new containers used modern technology to guarantee a hermetic seal that would keep food fresh for months.

"Later, as Western Europe welcomed foreign guest workers, Central Europe remained in the hermetic enclosure of Soviet rule." — Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Mar. 2016
 

Did You Know?

Hermetic derives from Greek via the Medieval Latin word hermeticus. When it first entered English in the early 17th century, hermetic was associated with writings attributed to Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom. Thoth, whom the Greeks called Hermes Trismegistus ("thrice-great Hermes"), was believed to be the author of a number of mystical, philosophical, and alchemistic works. The obscure subject matter of these works may have made them difficult to wade through, for soon English speakers were also applying hermetic to things that were beyond ordinary human comprehension. Additionally, Hermes Trismegistus was said to have invented a magic seal that could keep vessels airtight. Hermetic thus came to mean "airtight," both literally and figuratively. These days, it can also sometimes mean "solitary."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Extirpate   Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:40 pm

Word of the Day: Extirpate

  
verb  


 

Definition

1 a : to destroy completely : wipe out

b : to pull up by the root

2 : to cut out by surgery

Examples

"The spread of piracy has been treated more as a nuisance to be endured rather than as a deadly cancer that must be extirpated for the sake of both Somalia and the rule of law." — Tara Helfman and Dan O'Shea, Commentary, February 2011

"Over the past decades, the reptiles have reclaimed much of the native range from which they'd been extirpated." — Shannon Tompkins, The Houston Chronicle, 12 May 2016

 

Did You Know?

If we do a little digging, we discover that extirpate finds its roots in, well, roots (and stumps). Early English uses of the word in the 16th century carried the meaning of "to clear of stumps" or "to pull something up by the root." Extirpate grew out of a combination of the Latin prefix ex- and the Latin noun stirps, meaning "trunk" or "root." The word stirp itself remains rooted in our own language as a term meaning "a line descending from a common ancestor."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Crackerjack   Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:05 pm

Word of the Day: Crackerjack
 
  
adjective  


 

Definition

: of striking ability or excellence

Examples

She is a crackerjack athlete who excels in soccer and softball.

"Like a well-made suspense film, Mr. Scovel's jokes have twists you don't see coming and the thrilling tension of a crackerjack plot where you have no idea what will happen next." — Jason Zinoman, The New York Times, 12 May 2016

  

Did You Know?

The late 19th-century pairing of crack and jack to form crackerjack topped off a long history for those words. Cracker is an elongation of crack, an adjective meaning "expert" or "superior" that dates from the 18th century. Prior to that, crack was a noun meaning "something superior" and a verb meaning "to boast." (The verb use evolved from the expression "to crack a boast," which came from the sense of crack meaning "to make a loud sharp sound.") Jack has been used for "man" since the mid-1500s, as in "jack-of-all-trades." Crackerjack entered English first as a noun referring to "a person or thing of marked excellence," then as an adjective. You may also know Cracker Jack as a snack of candied popcorn and peanuts. That trademarked name dates from the 1890s.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Licit   Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:22 pm

Word of the Day: Licit

  
adjective  


 

Definition

: conforming to the requirements of the law : not forbidden by law : permissible

Examples

The program subsidizes farmers growing licit crops, such as rubber, cassava, and cocoa.

"The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) explained, opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin and the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others." — The Recorder: Central Connecticut University, 5 May 2016

 

Did You Know?

Licit is far less common than its antonym illicit, but you probably won't be surprised to learn that the former is the older of the two. Not by much, though: the first known use of licit in print is from 1483, whereas illicit shows up in print for the first time in 1506. For some reason illicit took off while licit just plodded along. When licit appears these days, it often modifies drugs or crops. Meanwhile, illicit shows up before words like thrill and passion (as well as gambling, relationship, activities, and, of course, drugs and crops.) The Latin word licitus, meaning "lawful," is the root of the pair; licitus itself is from licēre, meaning "to be permitted."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Attenuate   Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:21 pm

Word of the Day: Attenuate
 
  
verb  

 

Definition

1 : to make thin or slender

2 : to make thin in consistency : rarefy

3 : to lessen the amount, force, magnitude, or value of : weaken

4 : to reduce the severity, virulence, or vitality of

Examples

"… it's been well established that daily exercise such as walking for 30 minutes yields substantial health benefits and that regular physical activity attenuates the health risks associated with overweight and obesity." — Yuri Elkaim, The Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, 4 June 2016

"Confined to a contemporary art emporium, however, an artist such as Ms. Abdalian is often forced either to fill up the chamber so much that it feels like granny’s attic, or to attenuate the offering so that the viewer gets a pretty good idea of what the artist is usually up to, aesthetically and philosophically, elsewhere." — Peter Plagens, The Wall Street Journal, 6 May 2016

 

Did You Know?

Attenuate ultimately comes from a combination of the Latin prefix ad-, meaning "to" or "toward," and tenuis, meaning "thin." It has been on the medical scene since the 16th century, when a health treatise recommended eating dried figs to attenuate bodily fluids. That treatment might be outmoded nowadays, but attenuate is still used in medicine to refer to procedures that weaken a pathogen or reduce the severity of a disease. Most often, though, attenuate implies that something has been reduced or weakened by physical or chemical means. You can attenuate wire by drawing it through successively smaller holes, or attenuate gold by hammering it into thin sheets. You can even attenuate the momentum of a play by including too many costume changes.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Nadir   Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:28 am

Word of the Day: Nadir
  
  
noun  

 

Definition

1 : the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the zenith and vertically downward from the observer

2 : the lowest point

Examples

Only once the novel's protagonist reaches her nadir does she arouse the reader's empathy, and we root for her to climb back to respectability.

"The nadir came in the MLS Cup Final, when a gaffe in front of his net led to a Portland goal just 27 seconds after the opening whistle." — Shawn Mitchell, The Columbus Dispatch, 4 Mar. 2016

 


Did You Know?

Nadir is part of the galaxy of scientific words that have come to us from Arabic, a language that has made important contributions in the vocabulary of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and chemistry. Nadir derives from an Arabic word meaning "opposite"—the opposite, that is, of the zenith, or the highest point of the celestial sphere, the one vertically above the observer. (The word zenith itself is a modification of another Arabic word that means "the way over one's head.") The English poet John Donne is first on record as having used nadir in the figurative sense of "lowest point" in a sermon he wrote in 1627.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Qua   Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:27 pm

Word of the Day: Qua
  
preposition  

 

Definition

: in the capacity or character of : as

Examples

"Coben's novels have made him rich, but that's not what's important to him. It's sales qua sales—his statistical record—that motivates Coben, rather than the money his sales bring in." — Eric Konigsberg, The Atlantic, July/August 2007

"Sure, there have been other big pop music phenomena over the years … but the Beatles qua phenomenon was due to a confluence of forces that defined a historical moment." — Candy Leonard, The Huffington Post, 18 Dec. 2014



Did You Know?

Which way? Who? No, we're not paraphrasing lines from the old Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First?" We're referring to the etymology of qua, a term that comes to us from Latin. It can be translated as "which way" or "as," and it is a derivative of the Latin qui, meaning "who." Qua has been serving English in the capacity of a preposition since the 17th century. It's a learned but handy little word that led one 20th-century usage writer to comment: "Qua is sometimes thought affected or pretentious, but it does convey meaning economically."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Defalcation   Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:01 pm

Word of the Day: Defalcation
 
  
noun 

 

Definition

1 : the act or an instance of embezzling

2 : a failure to meet a promise or an expectation

Examples

"Early in my career, I uncovered a defalcation that resulted from one individual having too much control over the cash handling process." — James Williams, quoted in The Washington Business Journal, 30 Jan. 2015

"The sum of $39,400 was borrowed on this line of credit, some of which was repaid using District funds. The defendants then conspired to conceal the borrowing to protect their employment and to conceal their own defalcations and thefts of District funds." — The Nevada Daily Mail, 25 May 2016



Did You Know?

"The tea table shall be set forth every morning with its customary bill of fare, and without any manner of defalcation." No reference to embezzlement there! This line, from a 1712 issue of Spectator magazine, is an example of the earliest, and now archaic, sense of defalcation, which is simply defined as "curtailment." Defalcation is ultimately from the Latin word falx, meaning "sickle," and it has been a part of English since the 1400s. It was used early on of monetary cutbacks (as in "a defalcation in their wages"), and by the 1600s it was used of most any sort of financial reversal (as in "a defalcation of public revenues"). Not till the mid-1800s, however, did defalcation refer to breaches of trust that cause a financial loss, or, specifically, to embezzlement.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Ossify   Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:37 pm

Word of the Day: Ossify
 
  
verb  

 

Definition

1 : to become or change into bone or bony tissue

2 : to become or make hardened or set in one's ways

Examples

When a baby is born, many of the bones in its body have yet to ossify.

"Bargaining systems that address legitimate problems today may ossify into cumbersome bureaucracies over time." — Dante Ramos, The Boston Globe, 27 Mar. 2016

 
 

Did You Know?

The skeletons of mammals originate as soft cartilage that gradually transforms into hard bone (in humans, the process begins in the womb and continues until late adolescence). English speakers have referred to this bone-building process as ossification since the late 17th century, and the verb ossify appeared at roughly the same time. English speakers had begun to use both ossification and ossify for more figurative types of hardening (such as that of the heart, mind, or soul) by the 19th century. Both words descend from the Latin root os, meaning "bone." Os is also an English word that appears in scientific contexts as a synonym of bone, and the Latin term is an ancestor of the word osseous, which means "consisting of or resembling bone."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Yankee   Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:28 pm

Word of the Day: Yankee
  
  
noun  
 

Definition

1 a : a native or inhabitant of New England

b : a native or inhabitant of the northern United States

2 : a native or inhabitant of the United States

Examples

"I am an American. I was born and reared in Hartford, in the State of Connecticut…. So I am a Yankee of the Yankees…." — Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, 1889

"Laura Secord wasn't really Canadian. Secord was born south of the border in Massachusetts, making her a Yankee by birth." — James Culic, Niagara This Week, 23 Mar. 2016



Did You Know?

Many etymologies have been proposed for Yankee, but its origin is still uncertain. What we do know is that in its earliest recorded use Yankee was a pejorative term for American colonials used by the British military. The first evidence we have is in a letter written in 1758 by British General James Wolfe, who had a very low opinion of the New England troops assigned to him. We also have a report of British troops using the term to abuse citizens of Boston. In 1775, however, after the battles of Lexington and Concord had shown the colonials that they could stand up to British regulars, Yankee became suddenly respectable and the colonials adopted the British pejorative in defiance. Ever since then, a derisive and a respectable use of Yankee have existed side by side.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Felicitous   Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:04 pm

Word of the Day: Felicitous
  
  
adjective  
  

 

Definition

1 : very well suited or expressed : apt

2 : pleasant, delightful

Examples

The warm air and clear, dark skies made for felicitous conditions for the fireworks show.

"Experience has been instructive to Moulder, who has learned that churches have been particularly felicitous spaces. Granted, the general public may associate the music with nightclubs and sensuality, but jazz has deep roots in the church that flowered in the form of works such as John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme'…." — Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune, 3 Mar. 2016

 
Did You Know?

The adjective felicitous has been a part of our language since the late 18th century, but felicity, the noun meaning "great happiness," and later, "aptness," was around even in Middle English (as felicite, a borrowing from Anglo-French). Both words ultimately derive from the Latin adjective felix, meaning "fruitful" or "happy." The connection between happy and felicitous continues today in that both words can mean "notably fitting, effective, or well adapted." Happy typically suggests what is effectively or successfully appropriate (as in "a happy choice of words"), and felicitous often implies an aptness that is opportune, telling, or graceful (as in "a felicitous phrase").
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Negotiate   Wed Jul 06, 2016 8:59 pm

Word of the Day: Negotiate
   
verb  


 

Definition

1 : to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter; also : to arrange for or bring about by such conferences

2 : to transfer to another by delivery or endorsement in return for equivalent value

3 : to get through, around, or over successfully

Examples

Our driver had lived on the island all her life, and was adept at negotiating the narrow, winding roads along the island's coast.

"In recent years, however, using the courts to negotiate 'fair value' has become a full-time industry for investment funds and lawyers looking for a quick score." — Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times, 7 June 2016

 


Did You Know?

For the first 250 years of its life, negotiate had meanings that hewed pretty closely to its Latin root, negotiari, meaning "to carry on business." Around the middle of the 19th century, though, it developed the meaning "to successfully travel along or over." Although this sense was criticized in the New York Sun in 1906 as a "barbarism creeping into the language," and Henry Fowler's 1926 A Dictionary of Modern English Usage declared that any writer who used it was "literally a barbarian," it has thrived and is now fully established.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Hoity-toity   Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:02 pm

Word of the Day: Hoity-toity
 
  
adjective  


 

Definition

1 : thoughtlessly silly or frivolous : flighty

2 : marked by an air of assumed importance : highfalutin

Examples

"… she was by no means hoity-toity, but a thinking, reasoning being of the profoundest intellectual, or, rather, the highest artistic tendencies." — Theodore Dreiser, The Titan, 1914

"Usually Tanglewood's summer lineup is too hoity-toity for the great unwashed to care, but Beach Boys' legend and cofounder Brian Wilson performing the entire album 'Pet Sounds' is enough to give any summer concertgoer a good vibration." — Craig S. Semon, The Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts), 3 June 2016


Did You Know?

Today we most often use hoity-toity as an adjective, but before it was an adjective it was a noun meaning "thoughtless giddy behavior." The noun, which first appeared in print in 1668, was probably created as a singsongy rhyme based on the dialectal English word hoit, meaning "to play the fool." The adjective hoity-toity can stay close to its roots and mean "foolish" ("… as though it were very hoity-toity of me not to know that royal personage." — W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge), but in current use it more often means "pretentious."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Lout   Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:07 pm

Word of the Day: Lout
  
  
noun  


 

Definition

: an awkward brutish person

Examples

To get away from the obnoxious louts making noise in the restaurant, Jared and Fiona asked the waiter if they could be moved to another table.

"Leaf blowers kick a lot of dust up. Often, after I've just washed my car I will drive past some lout who is blowing crud directly at my passenger door." — Paul Mulshine, The Newark Star Ledger, 2 June 2016

 
Did You Know?

Lout belongs to the large group of words we use to indicate an undesirable person, a boor, a bumpkin, a dolt, a clod. We've used lout in this way since the mid-1500s. As early as the 800s, however, lout functioned as a verb with the meaning "to bow in respect." No one is quite sure how the verb sense developed into a noun meaning "a brutish person." Perhaps the awkward posture of one bowing down led over time to the idea that the person was personally low and awkward as well.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Jovial   Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:21 pm

Word of the Day: Jovial

  
adjective  


 

Definition

1 : (capitalized Jovial) of or relating to Jove

2 : markedly good-humored especially as evidenced by jollity and conviviality

Examples

He was fondly remembered for his jovial temperament and generosity.

"Inside, the crowd was boisterous and jovial, the young and fashionable sharing space with old regulars, all of them out despite the cold…." — Michael Snyder, Saveur, 13 June 2016

  

Did You Know?

Jupiter, also called Jove, was the chief Roman god and was considered a majestic, authoritative type—just the kind of god to name a massive planet like Jupiter for. Our word jovial comes by way of Middle French from the Late Latin adjective jovialis, meaning "of or relating to Jove." When English speakers first picked up jovial in the late 16th century, it was a term of astrology used to describe those born under the influence of Jupiter, which, as a natal planet, was believed to impart joy and happiness. They soon began applying jovial to folks who shared the good-natured character of Jupiter, regardless of their birth date.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Iconoclast   Sun Jul 10, 2016 8:55 pm

Word of the Day: Iconoclast

  
noun  


 

Definition

1 : a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration

2 : a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions

Examples

"Hollywood loves trotting out some irascible iconoclast who denies love's potency, only to have them felled by their own emotion like a sapling in a hurricane." — Piers Marchant, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 20 May 2016

"But the two men are … both unrepentant iconoclasts and gleeful disrupters of art world conventions. Warhol scandalized with his soup cans in 1962; three decades later, Mr. Ai defiled neolithic Chinese pottery with tutti-frutti-colored paint…." — Andrew Jacobs, The New York Times, 4 June 2016

 

 

Did You Know?

Iconoclast is a word that often shows up on vocabulary lists and College Board tests. How will you remember the meaning of this vocabulary-boosting term? If you already know the word icon, you're halfway there. An icon is a picture that represents something. The most common icons today are those little images on our computers and smartphones that represent a program or function, but in the still-recent past, the most common icons were religious images. Icon comes from the Greek eikōn, which is from eikenai, meaning "to resemble." Iconoclast comes to us by way of Medieval Latin from Middle Greek eikonoklastēs, which joins eikōn with a form of the word klan, meaning "to break." Iconoclast literally means "image destroyer."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Liminal   Mon Jul 11, 2016 8:23 pm

Word of the Day: Liminal
 
  
adjective  

 

Definition

1 : of or relating to a sensory threshold

2 : barely perceptible

3 : of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional

Examples

"Kipling is drawn to images of his characters sitting in perilous places, because he aims to communicate a liminal anxiety about identity and imperial history." — Tom Paulin, The Times Literary Supplement, 8 Mar. 2002

"Solnit suggests that separating the feeling of becoming lost from a feeling of fear leads to a certain kind of spiritual growth. In that liminal space, between what we know and what we can't imagine, we are remade." — Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, 24 May 2016

 
 

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The noun limen refers to the point at which a physiological or psychological effect begins to be produced, and liminal is the adjective used to describe things associated with that point, or threshold, as it is also called. Likewise, the closely related word subliminal means "below a threshold"; it can describe something inadequate to produce a sensation or something operating below a threshold of consciousness. Because the sensory threshold is a transitional point where sensations are just beginning to be perceptible, liminal acquired two extended meanings. It can mean "barely perceptible" and is now often used to mean "transitional" or "intermediate," as in "the liminal zone between sleep and wakefulness."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Gust    Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:02 pm

Word of the Day: Gust  

noun  

 

Definition

: keen delight

Examples

"He was pleased to find his own importance, and he tasted the sweets of companionship with more gust than he had yet done." — Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Godolphin, 1833

"… the more pampered burgess and guild-brother was eating his morsel with gust, or curiously criticising the quantity of the malt and the skill of the brewer." — Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, 1820

 

Did You Know?

You're no doubt familiar with the simple gust that means "a brief burst of wind." At least a century and a half before that word first appeared in print in the late 16th century, however, a differently derived homograph came on the scene. The windy gust is probably derived from an Old Norse word gustr, whereas our older featured word (which is now considerably rarer than its look-alike) comes to us through Middle English from gustus, the Latin word for "taste." Gustus gave English another word as well. Gusto (which now usually means "zest" but can also mean "an individual or specific taste") comes to us from gustus by way of Italian.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Natant   Wed Jul 13, 2016 8:03 pm

Word of the Day: Natant
 
  
adjective  

 

Definition

: swimming or floating in water

Examples

The pond was quiet, though occasionally a fish would rise to make a little splash among the natant lily pads.

"The life cycle of spiny lobsters consists of two major phases: a lengthy planktonic larval phase that develops in oceanic water, and a benthic phase that begins when the natant post-larvae … settle onto some benthic habitat." — Patricia Briones-Fourzán and Enrique Lozano-Álvarez, in Lobsters: Biology, Management, Aquaculture and Fisheries, 2013

 

Did You Know?

Natant and the smattering of other words birthed in the waters of Latin natare, meaning "to swim," can sound overly formal in many contexts. Rather than use the word natatorium, for example, we're more likely to refer simply to an indoor swimming pool. Similarly, instead of complimenting a friend's skills in natation, you're probably more apt to tell her she's a good swimmer. The common German-derived word swimming suits most of us just fine. Science, though, often prefers Latin, which is why you're most likely to encounter natare words in scientific contexts.
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