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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Lanuginous    Tue May 09, 2017 6:41 am

Word of the Day: Lanuginous 

 
adjective 



Definition

: covered with down or fine soft hair

Examples

At the base of the mullein's tall spire is a cluster of large lanuginous leaves.

The scent [of erica, South African heather] is subtle, woody, coniferous—it smells of hot origins. And it's ridiculously tactile: I have to keep prodding the lanuginous bobbles. — Helen Brown, The Independent (UK), 23 Nov. 2006




Did You Know?

You're likely to come across lanuginous in only a few contexts, botany and spelling bees being the best candidates. In other contexts, the more common term is downy. Lanuginous has an unsurprising pedigree. It's from the Latin word lanuginosus, which is in turn from lanugo, the Latin word for "down." (Lanugo is also an English word used especially to refer to the soft woolly hair that covers the fetus of some mammals.) Lanugo itself is from lana, meaning "wool," a root also at work in lanolin, the term for wool grease that's refined for use in ointments and cosmetics.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Erstwhile    Wed May 10, 2017 8:19 am

Word of the Day: Erstwhile 
 
adverb 




Definition

: in the past : formerly

Examples

What had erstwhile been acres of wetland was eventually developed into a thriving residential neighborhood.
"The participants proceeded with civility and purpose. Meetings that erstwhile had taken entire days were concluded with agreement in an hour or two." — Greg Behrman, The Most Noble Adventure, 2007




Did You Know?

The adverb erstwhile has been part of English since at least the 16th century, but it is formed from two words that are much older. It comes from the Old English words aer, meaning "early," and hwil, which has the same meaning as the modern word while. (The English word ere, meaning "before," is also a descendant of aer.) These days erstwhile is more likely to be encountered as an adjective, as in "erstwhile enemies." That adjective use is a much more recent development, having joined the language about three centuries after the adverb.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Supposititious   Thu May 11, 2017 5:45 am

Word of the Day: Supposititious

 
adjective 




Definition

1 a : fraudulently substituted : spurious

b : (of a child) falsely presented as a genuine heir : illegitimate

2 a : imaginary

b : of the nature of or based on a supposition : hypothetical

Examples

"… James II's queen, Mary of Modena, gave birth to a son and heir, the future Old Pretender, whom William's supporters tried to discredit as a supposititious child, smuggled in via a warming-pan." — Keith Thomas, The Guardian, 5 Apr. 2008

"I sat looking at Peggotty for some time, in a reverie on this supposititious case: whether, if she were employed to lose me like the boy in the fairy tale, I should be able to track my way home again by the buttons she would shed." — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1850




Did You Know?

The Latin verb supponere, meaning "substitute," has several legitimate heirs in English, including supposititious (which dates from the early 17th century) and supposition (a 15th-century addition). The "fraudulent" and "illegitimate" meanings of supposititious trace back to supponere in a fairly direct route, whereas the "imaginary" and "hypothetical" meanings were influenced by the meanings of supposition. In legal contexts, supposititious is primarily used in its earlier senses, as in "a supposititious (fraudulent) will" or "the child was supposititious (illegitimate)." When something hypothetical is being considered, the synonymous adjective suppositious is often preferred over supposititious.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Grok   Fri May 12, 2017 6:56 am

Word of the Day: Grok 

 
verb 




Definition

: to understand profoundly and intuitively

Examples

"Understanding your character is as important as the lines. If you don't believe you are someone different, how will anyone else believe you? You must grok the role—or at least try." — Joseph Garcia, quoted in The Orange County (California) Register, 1 June 2014

"The Chronicle asked several insurance experts to read through the policy, which is written in impenetrable insurance-ese that makes it pretty hard for civilians to grok." — Carolyn Said, The San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Mar. 201


Did You Know?

Grok may be the only English word that derives from Martian. Yes, we do mean the language of the planet Mars. No, we're not getting spacey; we've just ventured into the realm of science fiction. Grok was introduced in Robert A. Heinlein's 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land. The book's main character, Valentine Michael Smith, is a Martian-raised human who comes to earth as an adult, bringing with him words from his native tongue and a unique perspective on the strange ways of earthlings. Grok was quickly adopted by the youth culture of America and has since peppered the vernacular of those who grok it.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Microcosm    Sat May 13, 2017 8:48 am

Word of the Day: Microcosm 
 
noun 




Definition

1 : a little world; especially : the human race or human nature seen as an epitome of the world or the universe

2 : a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger unity

Examples

"The Mekong River Basin is a microcosm of the Earth's freshwater resources—it includes almost all of the natural forms freshwater takes on Earth: groundwater, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands." — Eleanor J. Sterling et al., Natural History, November 2007

"When walking through the district today, you see a microcosm of a city—a businessman walking next to a student, walking next to an artist, walking next to a parishioner—a true urban environment stitched together throughout 19 blocks and 68 acres. You see people of all ages, races, genders, shapes, and sizes living and breathing in the same space, creating a rich identity in and of itself." — Kim Butler, D Magazine, 7 Mar. 2017




Did You Know?

A microcosm is a "little world"—mikros kosmos in Greek. The Greek term was modified to microcosmus in Medieval Latin. When early medieval scholars referred to humans as miniature embodiments of the natural universe, they either employed the Latin word microcosmus or they used the English translation, "less world." "Man is callyd the lasse worlde, for he shewyth in hymselfe lyknesse of all the worlde," wrote John Trevisa when he translated the Latin text of Bartholomaeus Anglicus' encyclopedia in the 14th century. But by the 15th century scholars had adopted an anglicized version of the Latin word, the word we use today—microcosm.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Indurate    Sun May 14, 2017 8:37 am

Word of the Day: Indurate 


adjective 



Definition

: physically or morally hardened

Examples

"Anne-James Chaton, his indurate mien impassive and poker-faced, stands as still and stiff as a motorway signpost…." — Robert Barry, The Quietus, 24 July 2013

"In 1940, wildcat drillers bored about 900 feet into the indurate basalt in search of natural gas; they found a little, but not enough to warrant their trouble." — The Yakima (Washington) Herald-Republic, 18 Sep. 2013




Did You Know?

Indurate is a hard word—in more than one way. Not only is it fairly uncommon in modern usage, but it also can be traced back to Latin durare, meaning "to harden." Durare can mean "to endure" as well, and appropriately indurate is a word that has lasted many years—it has been a part of the English language since the 14th century. Durare is also the root of other durable English words, including during, endure, duration, durance, and even durable itself. In addition, indurate can be a verb meaning "to make or grow hard," "to make unfeeling, stubborn, or obdurate," and "to establish firmly."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Peregrinate    Mon May 15, 2017 8:09 am

Word of the Day: Peregrinate 


verb 




Definition

1 : to travel especially on foot : walk

2 : to walk or travel over : traverse

Examples

"All my traveling life, 40 years of peregrinating Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania, I have thought constantly of home…." — Paul Theroux, The Smithsonian Magazine, September 2009

"Hundreds of passenger trains traversed millions of miles laden with travelers increasingly accustomed to peregrinating in style and comfort." — Dave Flessner, The Chattanooga (Tennessee) Times Free Press, 27 May 2015




Did You Know?

We begin our narrative of the linguistic travels of peregrinate with the Latin word peregrinatus, the past participle of peregrinari, which means "to travel in foreign lands." The verb is derived from the Latin word for "foreigner," peregrinus, which was earlier used as an adjective meaning "foreign."That term also gave us the words pilgrim and peregrine, the latter of which once meant "alien" but is now used as an adjective meaning "tending to wander" and as a noun naming a kind of falcon. (The peregrine falcon is so named because it was traditionally captured during its first flight—or pilgrimage—from the nest.)
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Hoodlum    Tue May 16, 2017 5:57 am

Word of the Day: Hoodlum 
 
noun 




Definition

1 : thug; especially : a violent criminal

2 : a young ruffian

Examples

The shaken couple tried to give the police an accurate physical description of the hoodlums who assailed them in the parking lot.

"The iconic opening shot of director Danny Boyle's 1996 'Trainspotting' was of junkie hoodlum Mark Renton's feet pounding the pavement while he and his mates bolted down an Edinburgh street pursued by police." — Sean Burns, WBUR.org, 23 Mar. 2017




Did You Know?

A hoodlum can be anyone from a dangerous thug to a young person who's just up to no good. The exact origins of the word are not known, but one theory is that the word derives from hudelum, an adjective that means "disorderly" in dialects of German spoken in and around the region of Swabia. A similar-looking word for a young troublemaker is hooligan, but that word is not related to hoodlum; rather, it most likely derives from the name of Patrick Hooligan, an Irish youth purported to have wreaked havoc in the streets of Southwark, England, in the late 19th century.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Castigate   Wed May 17, 2017 6:54 am

Word of the Day: Castigate 

 
verb 



Definition

: to subject to severe punishment, reproof, or criticism

Examples

Before sentencing, the judge angrily castigated the two young defendants for their malicious act of vandalism.
"You know, if [dandelions] weren't castigated as the No. 1 lawn weed, we all probably would love them. With their sunny little faces looking upward toward the sky and the strong, pointed green foliage, they really are beautiful plants." — Mary Stickley-Godinez, The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, VA), 24 Apr. 2017

!


Did You Know?

Castigate has a synonym in chastise. Both verbs mean to punish or to censure someone. Fittingly, both words derive from the same root: the Latin castigare, formed from the words for "pure" (castus) and "to drive" (agere). (Castus also gave us the noun caste, meaning "social class or rank.") Another verb derived from castigare is chasten, which can also mean "to discipline by punishment" but more commonly means "to subdue or make humble" (as in "chastened by his foolish error"). Castigate is the youngest of the three verbs in English, dating from the early 17th century, while chasten dates to the early 16th century and chastise has been found in use as far back as the 14th.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Luscious    Thu May 18, 2017 8:13 am

Word of the Day: Luscious 
 
adjective 




Definition

1 : having a delicious sweet taste or smell

2 : sexually attractive

3 a : richly luxurious or appealing to the senses

b : excessively ornate

Examples

"Stockman's abstract paintings … are simple yet luscious, with thick, sensuous, curved shapes in intense, vibrating hues." — Steffie Nelson, W, February 2017

"His exhortations of umami—that luscious, satisfying flavor, not exactly savory or sweet or sour or bitter, that the Japanese were the first to identify—whetted my curiosity. One night at dinner, a chef prepared a special batch of dashi—the umami-drenched base stock of Japanese soups—before my eyes, so I could observe and taste its alchemy as it brewed." — Liesl Schillinger, Vogue, March 2017




Did You Know?

Have you ever heard a young child say something is "licius" when he or she really means it's "delicious"? Back in the Middle Ages, the word licius was sometimes used as a shortened form of delicious by adults and kids alike. Linguists believe that luscious developed when licius was further altered to lucius by 15th-century speakers. Both words ultimately derive from the Latin verb delicere, meaning "to entice by charm or attraction." The adjective lush, which can sometimes mean "delicious" as well, is not a shortened form of luscious; it derived on its own from the Middle English lusch, meaning "soft or tender."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Rebus    Fri May 19, 2017 9:18 am

Word of the Day: Rebus 


noun 



Definition

: a representation of syllables or words by means of pictures or symbols; also : a riddle made up of such pictures or symbols

Examples

The answer to yesterday's rebus, which showed a man on an ark, a spider web, and a spoon stirring coffee, was "Noah Webster."
"The books are rebuses: They combine normally written words with emojis that substitute for words or parts of words." — Jessica Roy, The Los Angeles Times, 14 Dec. 2016

!


Did You Know?

A rebus communicates its message by means of pictures or symbols whose names sound like various parts of a word, phrase, or sentence. For example, a picture of a can of tomatoes followed by the letters UC and a picture of a well means "Can you see well?" In Latin, the word rebus means "by things"; rebus is a form of the Latin word res, which means "thing." English speakers started using the word rebus for picture writing in the early 1600s.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Baroque    Sat May 20, 2017 8:10 am

Word of the Day: Baroque 

 
adjective 




Definition

1 : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a style of artistic expression prevalent especially in the 17th century that is marked generally by use of complex forms, bold ornamentation, and the juxtaposition of contrasting elements often conveying a sense of drama, movement, and tension

2 : characterized by grotesqueness, extravagance, complexity, or flamboyance

Examples

Though I was interested in the book's subject matter, I was put off by the baroque descriptions the author seemed to favor.
"The Rev. Canon Patrick Malloy, the priest who oversees arts-related projects at the cathedral …, said the idea was to recreate a Baroque chapel and show the tapestries differently from when they hung over the transepts." — James Barron, The New York Times, 21 Mar. 2017




Did You Know?

Baroque came to English from the French word barroque, meaning "irregularly shaped." At first, the word in French was used mostly to refer to pearls. Eventually, it came to describe an extravagant style of art characterized by curving lines, gilt, and gold. This type of art, which was prevalent especially in the 17th century, was sometimes considered to be excessively decorated and overly complicated. It makes sense, therefore, that the meaning of the word baroque has broadened to include anything that seems excessively ornate or elaborate.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Philately    Sun May 21, 2017 11:27 am

Word of the Day: Philately 


noun 




Definition

: the collection and study of postage and imprinted stamps : stamp collecting

Examples

"With philately, it's not just the stamp that makes it valuable, but often the cancellation mark. Also, errors are considered good things." — Nancy Kennedy, The Citrus County (Florida) Chronicle, 5 June 2015

"Evidently, however, there is still enough interest in philately that local, national and international stamp shows are still regularly happening. San Diego has a Philatelic Council and an annual San Diego-based Sandical stamp show." — Karen Pearlman, The San Diego Union Tribune, 26 May 2016




Did You Know?

Who wouldn't love something tax free? George Herpin did. He was a French stamp fancier back in the 1860s, when stamps were a fairly new invention. Before stamps, the recipient of a letter—not the sender—had to pay the postage. Stamps forced the sender to foot the bill, and created a lot of stamp lovers among folks on the receiving end of the mail—and a mania for stamp collecting. Timbromania was toyed with as a term to affix to this new hobby—from the French word for stamp, timbre. But when Herpin suggested philatélie (anglicized to philately), combining the Greek root phil-, meaning "loving," with Greek ateleia, meaning "tax-exemption," stamp lovers everywhere took a fancy to it and the name stuck.
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Acerbic    Yesterday at 9:28 am

Word of the Day: Acerbic 

 
adjective 




Definition

: acid in temper, mood, or tone

Examples

"It was [Dave Chappelle's] first comedy special in 17 years, and even though the specials were filmed in 2015 and 2016, they confirmed that Dave still had his … acerbic wit and impeccable comedic timing…." — Michael Harriot, The Root, 29 Mar. 2017
"It's tempting to view Tourist in This Town as a clean break from Crutchfield's previous music—a breakup record about a former bandmate that's reflected in a stark sonic departure from that band. But Crutchfield is still the same acerbic and fearless observer, her lyrics unflinchingly honest in their feminist perspective." — Nathan Tucker, The Portland (Oregon) Mercury, 22 Mar. 2017




Did You Know?

English speakers created acerbic in the 19th century by adding -ic to the adjective acerb. Acerb had been around since the 17th century, but for most of that time it had been used only to describe foods with a sour taste. (Acerb is still around today, but now it's simply a less common synonym of acerbic.) Acerbic and acerb ultimately come from the Latin adjective acerbus, which can mean "harsh" or "unpleasant." Another English word that comes from acerbus is exacerbate, which means "to make more violent or severe."
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Nudnik    Today at 6:24 am

Word of the Day: Nudnik 

 
noun 





Definition

: a person who is a bore or nuisance

Examples

James worried that he would never finish his work if the office nudnik didn't quit hanging around his cubicle.
"Others may enjoy its gentle comedy, its plentiful caricatures and easy jokes, its lightweight tone. However, I found most of its characters to be obnoxious, insufferable nudniks who never shut up or mind their own business or resemble real human beings." — John Serba, The Flint (Michigan) Journal, 27 Mar. 2017




Did You Know?

The suffix -nik came to English through Yiddish (and ultimately from Polish and Ukrainian). It means "one connected with or characterized by being." You might be familiar with beatnik, peacenik, or neatnik, but what about no-goodnik or allrightnik? The suffix -nik is frequently used in English to create nonce words that are often jocular or slightly derogatory. Some theorize that the popularity of the suffix was enhanced by Russian Sputnik, as well as Al Capp's frequent use of -nik words in his L'il Abner cartoons. The nud- of the Yiddish borrowing nudnik ultimately comes from the Polish nuda, meaning "boredom."
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