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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Rubric    Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:01 pm

Word of the Day: Rubric  

noun 




Definition

1 : an authoritative rule; especially : a rule for conduct of a liturgical service

2 : heading, title; also : class, category

3 : an explanatory or introductory commentary : gloss; specifically : an editorial interpolation

4 : an established rule, tradition, or custom

5 : a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests

Did You Know?

Centuries ago, whenever manuscript writers inserted special instructions or explanations into a book, they put them in red ink to set them off from the black used in the main text. (They used the same practice to highlight saints' names and holy days in calendars, a practice which gave us the term red-letter day.) Ultimately, such special headings or comments came to be called rubrics, a term that traces back to ruber, the Latin word for "red." While the printing sense remains in use today, rubric also has an extended sense referring to any class or category under which something is organized.



Examples

"… Katharine Briggs (1875-1968) and her daughter, Isabel Myers (1897-1980), … devised a rubric that identified personality according to four 'easy to understand and easily relatable' categories: extravert or introvert, thinking or feeling, sensing or intuiting, judging or perceiving." — Kirkus Reviews, 1 July 2018
"The whole rubric of employer-employee relations is undergoing a transformation—and the approach of treating employees as mere units in an assembly line is fast becoming outdated. In today's context, the extent of a company's employee engagement does play a role in a professional's decision to join it." — Avik Chanda, quoted in Business World, 27 Apr. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Taciturn    Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:44 pm

Word of the Day: Taciturn  

adjective 




Definition

: temperamentally disinclined to talk

Did You Know?

Taciturn shows up in English in the first half of the 18th century. James Miller, a British clergyman educated at Oxford, gives an early example of its use in his 1734 satiric drama, wherein a character describes a nephew with the following: "When he was little, he never was what they call Roguish or Waggish, but was always close, quiet, and taciturn." It seems we waited unduly long to adopt this useful descendent of the Latin verb tacere, meaning "to be silent"; we were quicker to adopt other words from the tacere family. We've been using tacit, an adjective meaning "expressed without words" or "implied," since at least the mid-17th century. And we've had the noun taciturnity, meaning "habitual silence," since at least the mid-15th century.


Examples

"The waiter, previously friendly and good-humored, was tonight solemn and taciturn." — Taylor Stevens, The Informationist, 2011
"One was taciturn and steady; the other was volatile and virtuosic. When Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe met in the Wimbledon singles final in 1980, they provided a compelling study in contrasts, both in personality and playing style." — Andrew R. Chow, The New York Times, 5 July 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Banshee    Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:30 am

Word of the Day: Banshee 

noun 




Definition

: a female spirit in Gaelic folklore whose appearance or wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die

Did You Know?

In Irish folklore, a bean sídhe (literally "woman of fairyland") was not a welcome guest. When she was seen combing her hair or heard wailing beneath a window, it was considered a sign that a family member was about to die. English speakers modified the mournful fairy's Irish name into the modern word banshee—a term we now most often use to evoke her woeful or terrible or earsplitting cry, as in "to scream like a banshee," or attributively, as in "a banshee wail."



Examples

"The family is reputed to have its own banshee that howls when one of them is going to die. Corran remembered that on receiving reports that the banshee had been heard, telegrams were sent to everyone in the family to find out if they were all right." — The Daily Telegraph (London), 16 July 2018

"Moments after the banshee wail of the air raid siren began, the teacher of my Grade 6 class shouted, 'Under the desks, children! Quickly!'" — Ken Cuthertson, The Globe and Mail (Canada), 14 April 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Mentor    Wed Sep 05, 2018 7:07 pm

Word of the Day: Mentor  

noun 




Definition

1 : a trusted counselor or guide

2 : tutor, coach

Did You Know?

We acquired mentor from the literature of ancient Greece. In Homer's epic The Odyssey, Odysseus was away from home fighting and journeying for 20 years. During that time, Telemachus, the son he left as a babe in arms, grew up under the supervision of Mentor, an old and trusted friend. When the goddess Athena decided it was time to complete the education of young Telemachus, she visited him disguised as Mentor and they set out together to learn about his father. Today, we use the word mentor for anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another (usually younger) person's life.


Examples

Graduates of the program sometimes go on to become mentors to those making their way through the rigorous process of earning their certification.
"If you can find a mentor who is experienced in your field, they can provide you with insights that you may not get anywhere else. Think of them as kind of being a walking, talking, unofficial guidebook. They know the unspoken truths." — Abdullahi Muhammed, Forbes.com, 30 June 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Quiddity    Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:50 pm

Word of the Day: Quiddity 

noun 


Definition

1 : whatever makes something the type that it is : essence

2 a : a trifling point : quibble

b : an unusual personal opinion or habit : eccentricity

Did You Know?

When it comes to synonyms of quiddity, the Q's have it. Consider quintessence, a synonym of the "essence of a thing" sense of quiddity (this oldest sense of quiddity dates from the 14th century). Quibble is a synonym of the "trifling point" sense; that meaning of quiddity arose from the subtler points of 16th-century academic arguments. And quirk, like quiddity, can refer to a person's eccentricities. Of course, quiddity also derives from a "Q" word, the Latin pronoun quis, which is one of two Latin words for "who" (the other is qui). Quid, the neuter form of quis, gave rise to the Medieval Latin quidditas, which means "essence," a term that was essential to the development of the English quiddity.


Examples

"The elegant, punky, petroleum-like smokiness that imbues every good mezcal, and which is its quiddity, comes from the burning of the agave heart." — Ray Harvey, The Coloradoan, 19 May 2016
"An apparently intractable fact of life is that our thoughts are inaccessible to one another. Our skulls are like space helmets; we are trapped in our heads, unable to convey the quiddity of our sensations." — Jason Pontin, Wired, 16 Apr. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Fathom    Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:55 am

Word of the Day: Fathom 

verb 




Definition

1 : probe

2 : to take soundings : to measure by a sounding line

3 : to penetrate and come to understand

Did You Know?

Today's word comes to us from Old English fæthm, meaning "outstretched arms." The noun fathom, which now commonly refers to a measure (especially of depth) of six feet, was originally used for the distance, fingertip to fingertip, created by stretching one's arms straight out from the sides of the body. In one of its earliest uses, the verb fathom meant to encircle something with the arms as if for measuring and was also a synonym of embrace. In the 1600s, however, fathom took on the meaning of using a sounding line to measure depth. At the same time, the verb also developed senses synonymous with probe or investigate, and is now frequently used to refer to the act of getting to the bottom of something, figuratively speaking.


Examples

Even those close to him couldn't always fathom why he repeatedly risked his life to climb the world's tallest mountains.
"It was hard to fathom that this canyon was carved not by natural forces, but by humans. But that's the Mesabi Iron Range for you." — Simon Peter Groebner, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), 15 July 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Buttonhole    Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:47 pm

Word of the Day: Buttonhole 

verb 


Definition

: to detain in conversation by or as if by holding on to the outer garments of

Did You Know?

Buttonhole is easy to pin down as a noun referring to the slit or loop through which a button is passed to fasten something, but its shift to a verb meaning "to detain in conversation" requires some explanation. Buttonhole is an alteration of another verb now long out of use: buttonhold, which literally meant to hold on to the buttons or lapels of someone's coat when speaking to him or her. In the mid-19th century, English speakers altered the verb to buttonhole, perhaps as a result of hearing buttonhold as buttonholed. The overlap is apparent in an early instance of this spelling in an 1862 London publication called All Year Round: "The man who is button-holed, or held … and must listen to half an hour's harangue about nothing interesting."



Examples

"Her colleagues remember [Shila] Kaur at the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, buttonholing senior health officials and patiently explaining to them why people thousands of miles away needed better access to medicines or were worried about the rise of antibiotic resistance." — Andrew Green, The Lancet, 13 Jan. 2018
"… rather than forcing her out, they turned her into a household name, someone who is stopped in the street by fans keen to take a selfie with a champion of human rights. And indeed I witnessed such popular support; she arrived a few minutes ahead of me, and had already been buttonholed by the time I stomped up those restaurant stairs." — Michael Short, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), 12 May 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Enigmatic    Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:55 am

Word of the Day: Enigmatic 

adjective 




Definition

: of, relating to, or resembling an enigma : mysterious

Did You Know?

An enigma is a puzzle, a riddle, a mystery. The adjective enigmatic describes what is hard to solve or figure out. An enigmatic person is someone who is a bit mysterious to others. Behind an enigmatic smile are thoughts impossible to guess. The word enigma originally referred not to people or smiles but to words, and specifically to words that formed a riddle or a complicated metaphor that tested one's alertness and cleverness. This meaning is clearly connected to the word's origin. Enigma comes from the Greek word ainissesthai, meaning "to speak in riddles."


Examples

"The magic of the Mona Lisa's smile is that it seems to react to our gaze. What is she thinking? She smiles back mysteriously. Look again. Her smile seems to flicker. We glance away, and the enigmatic smile lingers in our minds, as it does in the collective mind of humanity." — Walter Isaacson, The Atlantic, November 2017
"The Chapel of the Good Shepherd, also known as the Nevelson Chapel, is the work of Louise Nevelson, a flamboyant New York City sculptor who rose to prominence for her postwar abstract assemblages that turned street detritus into enigmatic works of art." — Jack Balderrama Morley, The Architects Newspaper (archpaper.com), 15 Aug. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Thwart    Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:24 pm

Word of the Day: Thwart  

verb 



Definition

1 a : to oppose successfully : defeat the hopes or aspirations of

b : to run counter to so as to effectively oppose or baffle : contravene

2 : to pass through or across

Did You Know?

Thwart and its synonyms foil and frustrate all suggest checking or defeating another's plan or preventing the achievement of a goal. Foil implies checking or defeating so as to discourage future efforts ("the police foiled the attempted robbery"), while frustrate suggests making all efforts, however vigorous or persistent, futile or ineffectual ("frustrated attempts at government reform"). Thwart usually indicates frustration caused by opposition ("the army thwarted an attempted coup").
 


Examples

The baby howled when her mother thwarted her in her effort to crawl up the stairs.
"… nearly 1,850 firefighters already working the blaze planned to build 'indirect lines'— containment lines placed in front of the fire's active edge—but were faced with the possibility that their efforts could be thwarted by the weather." — Sarah Ravani, The San Francisco Chronicle, 20 July 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Taradiddle   Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:19 pm

Word of the Day: Taradiddle

 
noun 


Definition

1 : a trivial or childish lie : fib

2 : pretentious nonsense

Did You Know?

The true origin of taradiddle is unknown, but that doesn't mean you won't encounter a lot of balderdash about its history. Some folks try to connect it to the verb diddle (one meaning of which is "to swindle or cheat"), but that connection hasn't been proven and may turn out to be poppycock. You may even hear some tommyrot about this particular sense of diddle coming from the Old English verb didrian, which meant "to deceive," but that couldn't be true unless didrian was somehow suddenly revived after eight or nine centuries of disuse. No one even knows when taradiddle was first used. It must have been before it showed up in a 1796 dictionary of colloquial speech (where it was defined as a synonym of fib), but if we claimed we knew who said it first, and when, we'd be dishing out pure applesauce.



Examples

"The time came when she not only told her taradiddle about having 'hunted quite a lot,' she even came near believing it." — George Orwell, Burmese Days, 1934
"As truths go, the history of Miss Rossiter she had laid out was unimpressive: a forked-tongue taraddidle of the highest order and if I were to serve it up to Hardy and be found out afterwards I should be lucky to escape arrest, if not a smack on the legs with a hairbrush for the cheek of it." — Catriona McPherson, Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains, 2009
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Lenitive    Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:04 am

Word of the Day: Lenitive 

adjective 


Definition

: alleviating pain or harshness : soothing

Did You Know?
Lenitive first appears in English in the 15th century. It derives from the Latin verb lenire ("to soften or soothe"), which was itself formed from the adjective lenis, meaning "soft" or "mild." Lenire also gave us the adjective lenient, which usually means "tolerant" or "indulgent" today but in its original sense carried the meaning of "relieving pain or stress." Often found in medical contexts, lenitive can also be a noun referring to a treatment (such as a salve) with soothing or healing properties.


Examples

Peppermint, chamomile, and ginger are all reputed to have a lenitive effect on the digestive system.
"The air in Eastbourne … is melancholy with the sweet memories of childhood, and the promises it breathes are prayerful and lenitive: all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." — Howard Jacobson, The Independent (London), 2 Aug. 2008
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Melancholia    Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:25 pm

Word of the Day: Melancholia  

noun 




Definition

: a mental condition and especially a manic-depressive condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and often hallucinations and delusions

Did You Know?

Today's word traces back to Greek melan- ("black, dark") and chole ("bile"). Medical practitioners once adhered to the system of humors—bodily fluids that included black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm. An imbalance of these humors was thought to lead to disorders of the mind and body. One suffering from an excess of black bile (believed to be secreted by the kidneys or spleen) could become sullen and unsociable—liable to anger, irritability, brooding, and depression. Today, doctors no longer ascribe physical and mental disorders to disruptions of the four humors, but the word melancholia is still used in psychiatry (it is identified as a "subtype" of clinical depression in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and as a general term for despondency. The older term ­melancholy, ultimately from the same Greek roots, is historically a synonym of melancholia but now more often refers to a sad or pensive mood.


Examples

"Nevertheless, wakened out of her melancholia and called to the dinner table, she changed her mind. A little food in the stomach does wonders." — Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie, 1900

"The ocean as healer beckoned people through the centuries. English doctors of yester-century prescribed 'sea baths' even to dissolve melancholia." — Liza Field, The Roanoke (Virginia) Times, 13 Jan. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Atone    Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:29 pm

Word of the Day: Atone 

verb 




Definition

1 : to make amends : to provide or serve as reparation or compensation for something bad or unwelcome — usually + for

2 : to make reparation or supply satisfaction for : expiate — used in the passive voice with for

Did You Know?

Atone comes to us from the combination in Middle English of at and on, the latter of which is an old variant of one. Together they meant "in harmony." (In current English, we use "at one" with a similar suggestion of harmony in such phrases as "at one with nature.") When it first entered English, atone meant "to reconcile" and suggested the restoration of a peaceful and harmonious state between people or groups. These days the verb specifically implies addressing the damage (or disharmony) caused by one's own behavior.


Examples

James tried to atone for the mistakes of his youth by devoting his life to helping others.
"Tony Stark became Iron Man partially to atone for his history of global weapons profiteering." — Alex Biese and Felecia Wellington Radel, Asbury Park (New Jersey) Press, 1 July 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Deportment    Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:11 am

Word of the Day: Deportment  

noun 




Definition

: the manner in which one conducts oneself : behavior

Did You Know?

Deportment evolved from the verb deport, meaning "to behave especially in accord with a code," which in turn came to us through Middle French from Latin deportare, meaning "to carry away." (You may also know deport as a verb meaning "to send out of the country"; that sense is newer and is derived directly from Latin deportare.) Deportment can simply refer to one's demeanor, or it can refer to behavior formed by breeding or training and often conforming to conventional rules of propriety: "Are you not gratified that I am so rapidly gaining correct ideas of female propriety and sedate deportment?" wrote 17-year-old Emily Dickinson to her brother Austin.


Examples

The candidate chosen for the position had an exceptional resume, but it was her deportment and personality as exhibited during interviews that were the deciding factors.
"The one artisanal, teachable thing is outer conduct. You can't restructure a genome, but, as Mr. Turveydrop, in [Charles Dickens'] 'Bleak House,' insisted, you really can teach deportment." — Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 29 Jan. 2018
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