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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Peculiar   Tue Sep 27, 2016 8:43 pm

Word of the Day: Peculiar 

adjective 


 
Definition

1 : characteristic of only one person, group, or thing : distinctive

2 : special, particular

3 : odd, curious

4 : eccentric

Examples

"'I'm not like you. … I'm common, just like my grandfather.' Emma shook her head. 'Is that really what you think?' 'If I could do something spectacular like you, don't you think I would've noticed by now? … There's nothing peculiar about me. I'm the most average person you'll ever meet.'" — Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, 2011
"It's not hard to spot players of the most popular smartphone game of all time. They have a peculiar way of carrying their devices in front of them with one hand, says John Hanke, the technology whiz behind Pokémon Go…." — Ryan Mac, Forbes, 23 Aug. 2016




Did You Know?
Peculiar comes from Latin peculiaris, an adjective meaning "privately owned" or "special" that is derived from the word for "property," peculium. Those words are cognate with pecu, a word for "cattle" that is also etymologically linked to a few English words related to money. Among these are pecuniary ("of or relating to money"), peculate ("to embezzle"), and impecunious ("having very little or no money"). Peculiar borrowed the Latin meanings of peculiaris, but it eventually came to refer to qualities possessed only by a particular individual, group, or thing. That sense is commonly followed by the preposition to, as in "a custom peculiar to America." In time, peculiar was being used specifically for unusual qualities, as well as the individuals that possessed them, which led to the word's "odd," "curious," and "eccentric" senses.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Vamoose   Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:17 pm

Word of the Day: Vamoose  

verb 


 
Definition

: to depart quickly

Examples

With the sheriff and his posse hot on their tails, the bank robbers knew they had better vamoose.
"Five minutes later the police arrived, and of course there was no sign of illegal activity. The crooks monitored the police radio and knew when to vamoose." — The Rockford (Illinois) Register Star, 14 July 2016




Did You Know?

In the 1820s and '30s, the American Southwest was rough-and-tumble territory—the true Wild West. English-speaking cowboys, Texas Rangers, and gold prospectors regularly rubbed elbows with Spanish-speaking vaqueros in the local saloons, and a certain amount of linguistic intermixing was inevitable. One Spanish term that caught on with English speakers was vamos, which means "let's go." Cowpokes and dudes alike adopted the word, at first using a range of spellings and pronunciations that varied considerably in their proximity to the original Spanish form. But when the dust settled, the version most American English speakers were using was vamoose.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Cabal    Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:06 pm

Word of the Day: Cabal  

noun 

 
Definition

1 : the artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government); also : a group engaged in such artifices and intrigues

2 : club, group

Examples

"A 'cabal' of wealthy conservatives has begun using New York State's campaign finance laws to sway local elections…." — Michael Gormley, Newsday (New York), 24 Aug. 2016      
"Looking back, it didn't take a vast conspiracy to replace truth with lies: only a greedy, shameless ghostwriter; another lazy biographer; and a couple of filmmakers who embraced shoddy reporting for its sensationalizing value. That small, self-serving cabal managed to misinform generations of Americans with malicious myths that misshaped history." — Dana D. Kelley, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 19 Aug. 2016




Did You Know?

In A Child's History of England, Charles Dickens associates the word cabal with a group of five ministers in the government of England's King Charles II. The initial letters of the names or titles of those men (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale) spell cabal, and Dickens dubbed them the "Cabal Ministry." These five men were widely regarded as invidious, secretive plotters and their activities may have encouraged English speakers to associate cabal with high-level government intrigue. But their names are not the source of the word cabal, which was in use decades before Charles II ascended the throne. The term can be traced back through French to cabbala, the Medieval Latin name for the Kabbalah, a traditional system of esoteric Jewish mysticism.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Woebegone    Fri Sep 30, 2016 7:22 pm

Word of the Day: Woebegone 

adjective 

 
Definition

1 : strongly afflicted with woe : woeful

2 a : exhibiting great woe, sorrow, or misery

b : being in a sorry state

Examples

"I simply wanted to be left alone to cry. I wanted the opposite of conversation, because for this brief, woebegone interlude, what was there to say?" — Wesley Morris, The New York Times, 2 Aug. 2016
"On a 68-degree afternoon, the Giants (71-59) took out their frustrations on the Braves' woebegone pitching staff in record-setting fashion. Denard Span added a solo homer and Eduardo Núñez also went deep, giving the Giants their first four-homer game at AT&T Park in six years." — Andrew Baggarly, The Mercury News (San Jose, California), 28 Aug. 2016


Did You Know?

At first glance, woebegone looks like a word that has its meaning backwards; after all, if begone means "to go away," shouldn't woebegone mean "devoid of woe," or "happy"? Not exactly. The word derives from the Middle English phrase wo begon. The wo in this phrase simply means "woe," but begon (deriving from Old English began) is a past participle meaning "beset." Someone who is woebegone, therefore, is beset with woe. Since the early 19th century, the word has also been used to describe things that appear to express sadness, as in "a woebegone face."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Empyreal    Sat Oct 01, 2016 8:25 pm

Word of the Day: Empyreal  

adjective 


 
Definition

1 : of or relating to the heavens or firmament : celestial

2 : sublime

Examples

Night after night, the comet shone brightly against the empyreal tapestry of the sky.
"A jar made in Iraq, Syria or Iran, its shape is nothing special, but its color—an empyreal sapphire blue, a version of which will later adorn the domes of Safavid mosques—is out of this world." — Holland Cotter, The New York Times, 24 Dec. 2004




Did You Know?

Empyreal can be traced back to the Greek word for "fiery," empyros, which was formed from the prefix em- ("in," "within," or "inside") and -pyros, from pyr, the Greek word for "fire." When empyreal entered the English language—via the Late Latin empyreus or empyrius—in the 15th century, it specifically referred to things related to the empyrean, the highest heaven or outermost heavenly sphere of ancient and medieval cosmology, which was often thought to contain or be composed of the element of fire. In the works of Christian writers—such as Dante's Divine Comedy and John Milton's Paradise Lost—this outermost heavenly sphere was associated with the Christian paradise. Empyreal is now also used more broadly in the senses of "celestial" and "sublime."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Deliquesce    Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:55 pm

Word of the Day: Deliquesce 

verb 


 
Definition

1 : to dissolve or melt away

2 : to become soft or liquid with age or maturity—used of some fungal structures (as the gills of a mushroom)
Examples

"'Number Nine,' a 16-minute bonbon of a ballet …, keeps its yellow-clad ensemble and four principal couples wheeling through kaleidoscopic patterns that surprise as they smoothly crystallize and deliquesce, sometimes matching the musical rhythms, sometimes working against them." — Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times, 26 Sept. 2012

"But wait. If you have the brisket, will there be room for the beef rib? There'd better be, because it is a triumph. The salt-and-pepper-coated smoked meat and fat deliquesce into a sort of beef confit." — Mark Vamos, The Dallas Morning News, 25 Dec. 2015



Did You Know?

Deliquesce derives from the prefix de- ("from, down, away") and a form of the Latin verb liquēre, meaning "to be fluid." Things that deliquesce, it could be said, turn to mush in more ways than one. In scientific contexts, a substance that deliquesces absorbs moisture from the atmosphere until it dissolves in the absorbed water and forms a solution. When plants and fungi deliquesce, they lose rigidity as they age. When deliquesce is used in non-scientific contexts, it is often in a figurative or humorous way to suggest the act of "melting away" under exhaustion, heat, or idleness, as in "teenagers deliquescing in 90-degree temperatures."
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PostSubject: Word of the day: Guerdon    Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:20 pm

Word of the day: Guerdon 

noun 


 
Definition

: reward, recompense

Examples

"The big hurdle … was early promotion to captain. … This early promotion, this small dry irrevocable statistic in the record, was his guerdon for a quarter of a century of getting things done." — Herman Wouk, The Winds of War, 1971
"The guerdon in attending a repertory company's concert is being able to savor the variety of work on display." — Juan Michael Porter II, Broadway World, 7 June 2016



Did You Know?

Guerdon dates back to the 14th century, when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in The Romaunt of the Rose (ca. 1366): "He quitte him wel his guerdon there." It derives from Anglo-French and is thought to be related to the Old High German widarlon, meaning "reward." Shakespeare used guerdon a couple of times in his plays. In Love's Labour's Lost, for example, Berowne, attendant to King Ferdinand, sends the clown Costard to deliver a letter to Rosaline, attendant to the princess of France, handing him a shilling with the line, "There's thy guerdon; go." Guerdon is a rare word today, but contemporary writers do use it on occasion for poetic effect.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Banausic    Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:17 pm

Word of the Day: Banausic 

adjective 



 
Definition

: relating to or concerned with earning a living — used pejoratively; also : utilitarian, practical
Examples

"At the far end was a wooden board on which were hung saws, chisels, knives and other banausic instruments of the trade." — Sebastian Faulk, Human Traces, 2005
"That story is followed by a brilliant allegory of reality TV and the cult of personality, Rumours About Me, in which a simple company man sees his banausic daily life … broadcast by the media until he is transformed into 'a nobody who was known by everybody.'" — Christine Thomas, The Miami Herald, 2 Nov. 2008


Did You Know?

The ancient Greeks held intellectual pursuits in the highest esteem, and they considered ideal a leisurely life of contemplation. A large population of slaves enabled many Greek citizens to adopt that preferred lifestyle. Those who had others to do the heavy lifting for them tended to regard professional labor with contempt. Their prejudice against the need to toil to earn a living is reflected in the Greek adjective banausikos (the root of banausic), which not only means "of an artisan" (from the word for "artisan," banausos) but "nonintellectual" as well.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Invective    Wed Oct 05, 2016 9:47 pm

Word of the Day: Invective 

noun 


 
Definition

1 : an abusive expression or speech

2 : insulting or abusive language : vituperation


Examples

"The ongoing collapse of responsible broadcast and cable journalism and the explosive role that social media has assumed in this campaign have made for a nasty brew of invective, slurs and accusations…." — Susan J. Douglas, In These Times, July 2016

"At a moment when American political discourse has descended to almost unimaginable levels of … invective, we need our teachers to model a better way to discuss our differences." — Jonathan Zimmerman, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 Aug. 2016


Did You Know?

Invective originated in the 15th century as an adjective meaning "of, relating to, or characterized by insult or abuse." In the early 16th century, it appeared in print as a noun meaning "an example of abusive speech." Eventually, the noun developed a second sense applying to abusive language as a whole. Invective comes to us from the Middle French word invectif, which in turn derives from Latin invectivus, meaning "reproachful, abusive." (Invectivus comes from Latin invectus, past participle of the verb invehere, one form of which means "to assail with words.") Invective is similar to abuse, but it tends to suggest not only anger and vehemence but verbal and rhetorical skill. It sometimes implies public denunciation, as in "blistering political invective."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Vulnerary   Thu Oct 06, 2016 10:09 pm

Word of the Day: Vulnerary  

adjective 


 
Definition

: used for or useful in healing wounds

Examples

"Rebecca examined the wound, and having applied to it such vulnerary remedies as her art prescribed, informed her father that if fever could be averted … there was nothing to fear for his guest's life, and that he might with safety travel to York with them on the ensuing day." — Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, 1820
"St. John’s wort can also help those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) due to lower sunlight exposure in the winter months. Its anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, astringent, and antimicrobial actions make it a powerful healer for wounds, bruises, burns, sprains, and muscle pain." — Jane Metzger, Mother Earth News, 13 July 2015



Did You Know?

In Latin, vulnus means "wound." You might think, then, that the English adjective vulnerary would mean "wounding" or "causing a wound"—and, indeed, vulnerary has been used that way, along with two obsolete adjectives, vulnerative and vulnific. But for the lasting and current use of vulnerary, we took our cue from the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder. In his Natural History, he used the Latin adjective vulnerarius to describe a plaster, or dressing, for healing wounds. And that's fine—the suffix -ary merely indicates that there is a connection, which, in this case, is to wounds. (As you may have already suspected, vulnerable is related; it comes from the Latin verb vulnerare, which means "to wound.")
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Macadam    Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:04 pm

Word of the Day: Macadam 

noun 


 
Definition


: a roadway or pavement of small closely packed broken stone


Examples

The sloping, curved street saw light traffic and had a smooth macadam surface that made it popular with skateboarders.

"Littered on the beach are nearly a dozen big slabs of macadam and even larger chunks of concrete that have slid down the cliff." — Chris Burrell, The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Massachusetts), 20 Aug. 2016


Did You Know?
In 1783, inventor John Loudon McAdam returned to his native Scotland after amassing a fortune in New York City. He became the road trustee for his district and quickly set his inventiveness to remedying the terrible condition of local roads. After numerous experiments, he created a new road surfacing material made of bits of stone that became compressed into a solid mass as traffic passed over them. His invention revolutionized road construction and transportation, and engineers and the public alike honored him by using his name (respelled macadam) as a generic term for the material or pavement made from it. He is further immortalized in the verb macadamize, which names the process of installing macadam on a road.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Truncate    Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:03 pm

Word of the Day: Truncate 

verb 



 
Definition

: to shorten by or as if by cutting off

Examples

"Apparently, a federal law … requires printed credit card receipts truncate not only the credit card number, but also the expiration date." — Jack Greiner, The Cincinnati Enquirer, 28 Aug. 2016

"Google's own URL shortener service … instantly truncates the URL you're visiting and copies the new address to the clipboard for use anywhere." — Eric Griffith, PCMag.com, 23 Aug. 2016



Did You Know?

Truncate descends from the Latin verb truncare, meaning "to shorten," which in turn can be traced back to the Latin word for the trunk of a tree, which is truncus. Incidentally, if you've guessed that truncus is also the ancestor of the English word trunk, you are correct. Truncus also gave us truncheon, which is the name for a police officer's billy club, and the obscure word obtruncate, meaning "to cut the head or top from."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Odious    Sun Oct 09, 2016 9:34 pm

Word of the Day: Odious 


adjective 


 
Definition

: arousing or deserving hatred or repugnance : hateful

Examples

Volunteers gathered on Saturday morning to scrub away the odious graffiti spray-painted on the school.
"I can't help being reminded of the progress we've made as a nation, as well as the odious past of slavery, the many men and women who have lost their lives in wars…." — Candi Castleberry Singleton, quoted in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5 Sept. 2016



Did You Know?
Odious has been with us since the days of Middle English. We borrowed it from Anglo-French, which in turn had taken it from Latin odiosus. The Latin adjective came from the noun odium, meaning "hatred." Odium is also an ancestor of the English verb annoy (another word that came to Middle English via Anglo-French). And, at the beginning of the 17th century, odium entered English in its unaltered form, giving us a noun meaning "hatred" or "disgrace" (as in "ideas that have incurred much odium").
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Roister    Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:55 pm

Word of the Day: Roister 

verb 




 
Definition

: to engage in noisy revelry : carouse

Examples

Hugh didn't get much sleep last night because his neighbors were roistering until the wee hours of the morning.

"North Highlands, apparently, is also what they call a part of Scotland where the prince's grandmum (the Queen Mother) kept a wee castle where the little royals used to roister." — Carlos Alcala, The Sacramento (California) Bee, 27 Oct. 2005



Did You Know?
As British writer Hugo Williams asserted in The Times Literary Supplement (November 15, 1991), roistering tends to be "funnier, sillier and less harmful than standard hooliganism, being based on nonsense rather than violence." Boisterous roisterers might be chagrined to learn that the word roister derives from a Middle French word that means "lout" or "boor," rustre. Ultimately, however, it is from the fairly neutral Latin word rusticus, meaning "rural." In the 16th century, the original English verb was simply roist, and one who roisted was a roister. Later, we changed the verb to roister and the corresponding noun to roisterer.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Scion    Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:28 pm

Word of the Day: Scion 

noun 


 
Definition

1 : a detached living portion of a plant (as a bud or shoot) joined to a stock in grafting and usually supplying solely aerial parts to a graft

2 : descendant, child; especially : a descendant of a wealthy, aristocratic, or influential family

3 : heir

Examples

"The duke was the billionaire owner of swaths of central London, a friend of Britain's royal family and the scion of an aristocratic family stretching back to the Norman Conquest." — The Boston Herald, 14 Aug. 2016

"The vibe of the place is a mixture of old-school cool and Brit eccentric. There are poems etched onto the wall by the artist Hugo Guinness, … a scion of the famous Anglo-Irish brewing family." — Christa D'Souza, W, September 2016



Did You Know?

Scion derives from the Middle English sioun and Old French cion and is related to the Old English cīth and the Old High German kīdi (meaning "sprout" or "shoot"). When it first sprouted in English in the 14th century, scion meant "a shoot or twig." That sense withered in horticultural contexts, but the word branched out, adding the grafting-related meaning we know today. A figurative sense also blossomed referring to one's descendants, with particular reference to those who are descendants of notable families.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Phlegmatic    Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:25 pm

Word of the Day: Phlegmatic 

adjective




 
Definition

1 : resembling, consisting of, or producing the humor phlegm 

2 : having or showing a slow and stolid temperament
Examples

"She said 'Good morning, Miss,' in her usual phlegmatic and brief manner; and taking up another ring and more tape, went on with her sewing." — Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847

"You are aware of the finality of fate, and tend to have a phlegmatic and sometimes unhappy compromise with your life, even when you long for a definitive resolution." — Molly Shea, The New York Post, 31 Aug. 2016




Did You Know?

According to the ancient Greeks, human personalities were controlled by four bodily fluids or semifluids called humors: blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. Each humor was associated with one of the four basic elements: air, earth, fire, and water. Phlegm was paired with water—the cold, moist element—and it was believed to impart the cool, calm, unemotional personality we now call the "phlegmatic type." That's a bit odd, given that the term derives from the Greek phlegma, which literally means "flame," perhaps a reflection of the inflammation that colds and flus often bring.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Univocal    Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:56 pm

Word of the Day: Univocal 

adjective 


 
Definition

1 : having one meaning only

2 : unambiguous

Examples

The president declared that it was important to send a univocal message of support to the beleaguered country.

"Often cited as America's greatest indigenous art form, jazz wriggles away from any univocal definition, resisting the confines of a single track like water flowing on broken ground." — Charles Donelan, The Santa Barbara (California) Independent, 23 Sept. 2010



Did You Know?

Earliest known print evidence of univocal, in the sense of "having one meaning only," dates the word to the mid-1500s, somewhat earlier than its more familiar antonym equivocal (meaning "often misleadingly subject to two or more interpretations"). Both words trace back to the Latin noun vox, which means "voice." The prefix uni- ("one") was combined with vox to create the Late Latin word univocus, from which English speakers borrowed univocal. Univocal was indeed once used in the sense of "speaking in one voice" (or "unanimous") as its etymology would imply, but that use is now obsolete.


Word of the Day: Univocal 

adjective 


 
Definition

1 : having one meaning only

2 : unambiguous

Examples

The president declared that it was important to send a univocal message of support to the beleaguered country.

"Often cited as America's greatest indigenous art form, jazz wriggles away from any univocal definition, resisting the confines of a single track like water flowing on broken ground." — Charles Donelan, The Santa Barbara (California) Independent, 23 Sept. 2010



Did You Know?

Earliest known print evidence of univocal, in the sense of "having one meaning only," dates the word to the mid-1500s, somewhat earlier than its more familiar antonym equivocal (meaning "often misleadingly subject to two or more interpretations"). Both words trace back to the Latin noun vox, which means "voice." The prefix uni- ("one") was combined with vox to create the Late Latin word univocus, from which English speakers borrowed univocal. Univocal was indeed once used in the sense of "speaking in one voice" (or "unanimous") as its etymology would imply, but that use is now obsolete.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Nemesis   Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:50 pm

Word of the Day: Nemesis
 
noun 



 
Definition

1 a : one that inflicts retribution or vengeance

b : a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent

2 a : an act or effect of retribution

b : a source of harm or ruin : curse

Examples

"My nemesis was a young woman who, at the end of the film, had the honour of sending me to my doom at the bottom of a well. Her name meant nothing to me then: Jennifer Aniston." — Warwick Davis, Dailymail.com, 10 Apr. 2010

"The leaves were pale … and, upon closer inspection, the stems had small nibble marks on them. I immediately suspected slugs since they've been my nemesis in the past so I sprang into action." — Susan Mulvihill, The Spokesman Review (Spokane, Washington), 21 Aug. 2016




Did You Know?

Nemesis was the Greek goddess of vengeance, a deity who doled out rewards for noble acts and punishment for evil ones. The Greeks believed that Nemesis didn't always punish an offender immediately but might wait generations to avenge a crime. In English, nemesis originally referred to someone who brought a just retribution, but nowadays people are more likely to see animosity than justice in the actions of a nemesis.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Waggish    Sat Oct 15, 2016 8:32 pm

Word of the Day: Waggish 

adjective 




 
Definition

1 : resembling or characteristic of a wag : displaying good-humored mischief

2 : done or made for sport : humorous
Examples

"A warm person who enjoys banter with often-waggish reporters, [Elizabeth] Brenner joked that her next move would be to take a newspaper-carrier route in Pewaukee. 'No, that's not what I'm going to do,' she quickly added. 'Can't get up that early.'" — Rick Romell, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 17 May 2016

"The waggish reaction to Guaranteed Rate's name and arrow logo is like the feedback Energy Solutions received when its name replaced that of Delta Air Lines on the Utah Jazz's arena a decade ago. Energy Solutions' business—disposing of low-level nuclear waste in the Utah desert—led to people calling the arena the Dump, the Isotope and Radium Stadium." — Richard Sandomir, The New York Times, 25 Aug. 2016



Did You Know?

One who is waggish acts like a wag. What, then, is a wag? Etymologists think wag probably came from waghalter, a word that was once used for a gallows bird (that is, a person who was going to be, or deserved to be, hanged). Waghalter was apparently shortened to wag and used jokingly or affectionately for mischievous pranksters or youths. Hence a wag is a joker, and waggery is merriment or practical joking. Waggish can describe the prank itself as well as the prankster type; the class clown might be said to have a "waggish disposition" or be prone to "waggish antics."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Lavation    Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:10 pm

Word of the Day: Lavation 

noun 


 
Definition

: the act or an instance of washing or cleansing

Examples

"… we cannot keep the skin healthy without frequent lavations of the whole body in pure water. It is impossible to calculate the benefits of this simple practice." — Walt Whitman, "Bathing, Cleanliness, Personal Beauty," June 1846

"In Maycomb County, it was easy to tell when someone bathed regularly, as opposed to yearly lavations…." — Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960




Did You Know?

It sounds logical that you would perform a lavation in a lavatory, doesn't it? And it is logical: both words come from Latin lavare, meaning, appropriately, "to wash." English picked up a few other words from this root as well. In medicine, the therapeutic washing out of an organ is lavage. There is also lavabo (in Latin, literally, "I shall wash"), which in English can refer to a ceremony at Mass in which the celebrant washes his hands, to the basin used in this religious ceremony, or to other kinds of basins. Even the word lavish, via a Middle French word for a downpour of rain, comes to us from lavare.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Ab initio    Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:29 pm

Word of the Day: Ab initio 

Adverb




 
Definition

: from the beginning

Examples

"Like many of contemporary architecture's most celebrated figures, [Zaha] Hadid is often presented as an artist who conceives her buildings entirely ab initio." — Ellis Woodman, The Daily Telegraph (London), 3 Sept. 2012

"Two months ago, the Supreme Court ruled that Federal Court judges are not eligible to represent Quebec on its bench. Justice Nadon's nomination was therefore void ab initio." — André Pratte, The Globe and Mail (Canada), 29 May 2014



Did You Know?

We'll tell you right from the beginning where ab initio comes from. This adverb was adopted at the beginning of the 17th century directly from Latin, where it translates as "from the beginning." (Initio is a form of the noun initium, meaning "beginning," which gave rise to such English words as initial, initiate, and initiative.) Ab initio most frequently appears in legal contexts, but it is not surprising to find it used outside of the courtroom. The phrase is also used as an adjective meaning "starting from or based on first principles" (as in "predicted from ab initio calculations").
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Jacquerie    Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:13 pm

Word of the Day: Jacquerie 

noun 




 
Definition

: (often capitalized Jacquerie) a peasants' revolt
 
Examples

"There were no bloodthirsty sansculottes preparing to erect guillotines; nor were farmers, however angry about government excise taxes and other matters—as Shays's Rebellion suggested—ready to burn down the manorial estates of their feudal overlords in some version of an American jacquerie." — Steve Fraser, Wall Street: America's Dream Palace, 2008

"The thicker the masonry, the more likely the fortress would withstand the anticipated Jacquerie." — Michael Knox Beran, National Review, 7 Sept. 2009



Did You Know?

The first jacquerie was an insurrection of peasants against the nobility in northeastern France in 1358, so-named from the nobles' habit of referring contemptuously to any peasant as "Jacques," or "Jacques Bonhomme" (in French bonhomme means "fellow"). It took some time—150 years—for the name of the first jacquerie to become a generalized term for other revolts. The term is also occasionally used to refer to the peasant class, as when Madame Defarge in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities tells her husband to "consider the faces of all the world that we know, consider the rage and discontent to which the Jacquerie addresses itself with more and more of certainty every hour."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Colubrine   Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:46 pm

Word of the Day: Colubrine 

adjective 




 
Definition

1 : of, relating to, or resembling a snake

2 : of or relating to a large cosmopolitan family (Colubridae) of chiefly nonvenomous snakes

Examples

The trellis's latticework was covered with colubrine ivy.

"Most of the colubrine snakes are entirely harmless, and are the common snakes that we meet everywhere." — Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness, 1914




Did You Know?

Colubrine may be less common than other animal words—such as canine, feline, and bovine—but it has been around for a good long while. Ultimately derived from the Latin colubra ("snake"), it slithered into the English language in the 16th century. (Cobra, by the way, comes from the same Latin word, but it entered English through Portuguese.) Some other words for "snakelike" are serpentine (a more common alternative) and ophidian (from the Greek word for snake: ophis).
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Hoick    Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:50 pm

Word of the Day: Hoick 

verb 

 
Definition

: to move or pull abruptly : yank

Examples

"Occasionally he hoicks up the waistband of his trousers when he thinks no one is looking." — Elizabeth Day, The Observer, 24 Feb. 2015

"The flutist … looks forward, unfolding a retinue of futuristic techniques—sounds that purr like a cat, pop like a cork or hoick like a spitball—on the way to a final improvisation…." — David Allen, The New York Times, 29 Mar. 2016



Did You Know?

Etymologists suspect that hoick is an alteration of the verb hike, which is itself akin to hitch. According to the evidence, hike entered the language during the first decade of the 19th century, whereas hoick appeared near that century's close. The word hoick can be used for any type of abrupt pulling movement but is commonly used for the sudden pulling back on the joystick of an airplane; a rough, jerky movement when rowing; and a jerky, elevated shot in cricket. In fox hunting, the word hoicks is used to call attention to a hound that has picked up the scent and to bring the pack together.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Evanescent    Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:57 pm

Word of the Day: Evanescent 

adjective 


 
Definition

: tending to vanish like vapor

Examples

"As stunning as his dishes could be, in the end, the maestro understood its evanescent nature. Furstenberg remembers Richard telling him, 'It's supposed to be food.'" — Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2016

"I think because we are young, issues we encounter with mental health are often excused as evanescent, and therefore not something to be taken seriously." — Morgan Hughes, The Marquette Tribune (Marquette University), 6 Sept. 2016




Did You Know?

The fragile, airy quality of things evanescent reflects the etymology of the word evanescent itself. It derives from a form of the Latin verb evanescere, which means "to evaporate" or "to vanish." Given the similarity in spelling between the two words, you might expect evaporate to come from the same Latin root, but it actually grew out of another steamy Latin root, evaporare. Evanescere did give us vanish, however, by way of Anglo-French and Vulgar Latin.
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