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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Handsel    Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:42 pm

Word of the Day: Handsel 

noun 




Definition

1 : a gift made as a token of good wishes or luck especially at the beginning of a new year

2 : something received first (as in a day of trading) and taken to be a token of good luck

3 a : a first installment

b : a token or sample of what is to come : earnest, foretaste

Did You Know?

According to an old custom in the British Isles, the first Monday of the New Year is Handsel Monday, a day to give a small gift or good luck charm to children or to those who have served you well. As long ago as the 13th century, English speakers were using the ancestor of handsel in the context of omens and luck, eventually leading to the meaning of a good luck charm given to one at the start of some new situation or condition. By the 18th century, traders were using handsel for the first cash they earned in the morning—to them, an omen of good things to follow. Nowadays, it can also be used for something that gives a taste of things to come.


Examples

Celebrating the New Year in the Scottish tradition, Jessica gave out a handsel of one silver dollar coin to each of her nieces and nephews.
"The lads, dressed like their fathers, seemed uncomfortable in their new clothes (many that day had received the handsel of their first pair of boots); and beside them, speaking not a word, wearing the white gown of their first communion lengthened for the occasion, were some … girls of fourteen or sixteen…." — Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, 1856
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Enervate    Thu Jan 03, 2019 7:54 pm

Word of the Day: Enervate  

verb 




Definition

1 : to reduce the mental or moral vigor of

2 : to lessen the vitality or strength of

Did You Know?

Enervate is a word that some people use without really knowing what it means. They seem to believe that because enervate looks a little bit like energize and invigorate it must share their meaning—but it is actually their antonym. Enervate comes from the Latin enervatus,the past participle of the verb enervare, which literally means "to remove the sinews of," but is also used figuratively in the sense of "to weaken." The Latin enervare was formed from the prefix e-, meaning "out of," and nervus, meaning "sinew or nerve." So etymologically, at least, someone who is enervated is "out of nerve."

Examples

Dehydration and prolonged exposure to the sun had enervated the shipwrecked crew, leaving them almost too weak to hail the passing vessel.
"In contrast, there was dignity in the Joad family (of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath). When the Dust Bowl smothered Oklahoma, the Joads were not enervated, they moved west in search of work." — George Will, The Washington Post, 7 Dec. 2016
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Utmost    Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:40 pm

Word of the Day: Utmost 

adjective 




Definition

1 : situated at the farthest or most distant point : extreme

2 : of the greatest or highest degree, quantity, number, or amount

Did You Know?

Utmost traces back to the Old English utmest, a superlative adjective formed from the adverb ut, meaning "out." Utmest eventually evolved into utmost, perhaps influenced by the spelling of the word most. Not surprisingly, the earlier sense of utmost carries the same meaning as outermost. The second sense of utmost, meaning "of the greatest or highest degree," first appeared in English in the 14th century. A related word is utter, meaning "absolute" or "total," as in the phrase "utter chaos"; it comes from Old English utera, meaning "outer," and ultimately from ut.


Examples

"The refuge, which is bordered by the Centennial Mountains and Continental Divide to the south and the Gravelly Mountains to the north, is also home to the utmost point of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers." — Kelley Christensen, The Montana Standard, 25 Nov. 2013
"The Richmond football team is one of eight 4AA squads with a bye this week, but head coach Bryan Till is still preaching … that keeping a sense of urgency is of the utmost importance." — Leon Hargrove Jr., The Richmond County (North Carolina) Daily Journal, 15 Nov. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Perennial    Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:04 pm

Word of the Day: Perennial 

adjective 


Definition

1 : present at all seasons of the year

2 : persisting for several years usually with new herbaceous growth from a perennating part

3 a : persistent, enduring

b : continuing without interruption : constant, perpetual

c : regularly repeated or renewed : recurrent

Did You Know?

Nowadays when we talk about "perennial plants," or simply "perennials" (perennial can be a noun, too), we mean plants that die back seasonally but produce new growth in the spring. But originally perennial was equivalent to evergreen, used for plants that remain with us all year. We took this "throughout the year" sense straight from the Romans, whose Latin perennis combined per- ("throughout") with a form of annus ("year"). The poet Ovid, writing around the beginning of the first millennium, used the Latin word to refer to a "perennial spring" (a water source), and the scholar Pliny used it of birds that don't migrate. Our perennial retains these same uses, for streams and occasionally for birds, but it has long had extended meanings, too.


Examples

"Kieran [Culkin] called Saines in 2016 after a two-year hiatus to say, 'You know, I think I want to act again. I want to do This Is Our Youth.' Written by Kenneth Lonergan, … the play has become a perennial showcase for young actors." — Sam Kashner, Vanity Fair, December 2018
"Making the kids think of school as important to their complicated, often tragic lives—while meeting the demands of the curriculum—was a perennial struggle." — Sarah Stodder, The Washingtonian, November 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Malinger   Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:11 pm

Word of the Day: Malinger

verb 


Definition

: to pretend or exaggerate incapacity or illness (as to avoid duty or work)

Did You Know?

Do you know someone who always seems to develop an ailment when there's work to be done? Someone who merits an Academy Award for his or her superb simulation of symptoms? Then you know a malingerer. The verb malinger comes from the French word malingre, meaning "sickly," and one who malingers feigns illness. In its earliest uses in the early 19th century, malinger usually referred to a soldier or sailor pretending to be sick or insane to shirk duty. Later, psychologists began using malingering as a clinical term to describe the feigning of illness in avoidance of a duty or for personal gain. Today, malinger is used in just about any context in which someone fakes sickness or injury to get out of an undesirable task.


Examples

Sarah's prospects for promotion aren't helped by her well-known tendency to malinger.
"[Writer Jaroslav] Hašek's meandering, unfinished comedy tells the story of a dog thief turned soldier, who blusters, pranks and malingers his way through the early days of the war." — Daniel Mason, The Guardian (London), 14 Nov. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Behest    Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:23 pm

Word of the Day: Behest 

noun 




Definition

1 : an authoritative order : command

2 : an urgent prompting

Did You Know?

Today's word first appeared in Old English and was formed from the prefix be- and the verb hatan ("to command" or "to promise"). While behest was originally used only in the sense of "promise," it acquired the additional sense of "command" among speakers of Middle English. Among contemporary English speakers, behest is no longer used in the sense of "promise" but rather denotes an authoritative or urgent request or command. Old English hatan also gave English the now-archaic words hest (meaning "command") and hight ("being called or named").


Examples

"Let's be clear on this, in the case of a foreclosure sale, while you might not think of it as a 'sale' because it is not a voluntary action taken by the homeowner, but rather a forced action at the behest of the lender, for tax purposes a foreclosure is treated exactly the same as a voluntary sale by the buyer." — Tony Nitti, Forbes, 19 Nov. 2018
"He is being detained at the behest of Japanese prosecutors after Nissan alleged that he had understated his earnings and misused company assets." — The Economist, 24 Nov. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Venal   Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:53 pm

Word of the Day: Venal
 

adjective 




Definition

1 : capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration : purchasable; especially : open to corrupt influence and especially bribery : mercenary

2 : originating in, characterized by, or associated with corrupt bribery

Did You Know?

If you are given the choice between acts that are venal and those that are venial, go for the venial. Although the two words look and sound alike, they have very different meanings and histories. Venal demonstrates the adage that anything can be had if the price is high enough and the morals are low enough. That word originated with the Latin venum, which simply referred to something that was sold or for sale. Some of those transactions must have been rather shady because by the mid-1600s, venal had gained the sense of corruption it carries today. Venial sins, on the other hand, are pardonable, the kind that show that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. That forgiving term descends from venia, Latin for "favor," "indulgence," or "pardon."


Examples

"We have to prove that our institutions are more important than our ideologies, that the dream, the whisper, the precious possibility of America cannot be trampled by the corrupt and the fraudulent, the venal and the lecherous." — Charles M. Blow, The New York Times, 9 Dec. 2018
"He held combative press conferences outlining … corporate malpractice and passed along to journalists dossiers that described the way venal oligarchs engaged in asset stripping, wasteful spending, and share dilutions." — Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 20 Aug. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Clement    Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:33 pm

Word of the Day: Clement  

adjective 



Definition

1 : inclined to be merciful : lenient 

2 : not severe : mild

Did You Know?

Defendants in court cases probably don't spend much time worrying about inclement weather. They're too busy hoping to meet a clement judge so they will be granted clemency. They should hope they don't meet an inclement judge! Clement, inclement, and clemency all derive from the Latin clemens, which means "mild" or "calm." All three terms can refer to an individual's degree of mercy or to the relative pleasantness of the weather.


Examples

The judge decided to be clement and said she would forgive the young defendants so long as they paid back the money they stole from the fundraiser.
"Eagle Scout Michael Eliason completed his project by literally blazing a trail: he created a half-mile-long trail along a Heights park still being developed along the Yellowstone River, Dover Park. 'We rototilled and used pickaxes on it, and we had to wait until the weather was clement,' he said." — Mike Ferguson, The Billings Gazette, 24 Nov. 2014
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Mea culpa    Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:28 pm

Word of the Day: Mea culpa  

noun 


Definition

: a formal acknowledgment of personal fault or error

Did You Know?

Mea culpa, which means "through my fault" in Latin, comes from a prayer of confession in the Catholic Church. Said by itself, it's an exclamation of apology or remorse that is used to mean "It was my fault" or "I apologize." Mea culpa is also a noun, however. A newspaper might issue a mea culpa for printing inaccurate information, or a politician might give a speech making mea culpas for past wrongdoings. Mea culpa is one of many English terms that derive from the Latin culpa, meaning "guilt." Some other examples are culpable ("meriting condemnation or blame especially as wrong or harmful"), culprit ("one guilty of a crime or a fault"), and exculpate ("to clear from alleged fault or guilt").


Examples

The mayor's public mea culpa for his involvement in the scandal didn't satisfy his critics.
"The internal investigation ended with a mea culpa from the sheriff's department and a reprimand and reassignment for a deputy overseeing the property room." — Allie Morris, The Houston Chronicle, 15 Nov. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Boycott    Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:21 pm

Word of the Day: Boycott 

verb 

Definition

: to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (a person, a store, an organization, etc.) usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions

Did You Know?

In the 1870s, Irish farmers faced an agricultural crisis that threatened to result in a repeat of the terrible famine and mass evictions of the 1840s. Anticipating financial ruin, they formed a Land League to campaign against the rent increases and evictions landlords were imposing as a result of the crisis. Retired British army captain Charles Boycott had the misfortune to be acting as an agent for an absentee landlord at the time, and when he tried to evict tenant farmers for refusing to pay their rent, he was ostracized by the League and community. His laborers and servants quit, and his crops began to rot. Boycott's fate was soon well known, and his name became a byword for that particular protest strategy.


Examples

"Chinese boycotted Norwegian salmon over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the late dissident writer Liu Xiaobo. They stopped buying fruit from the Philippines amid a dispute over territory in the South China Sea." — Associated Press, 13 Dec. 2018
"[Saul] Bellow … showed up at President Johnson's White House Festival of the Arts in the summer of 1965, which other writers, such as Philip Roth (a friend and follower) and Robert Lowell, boycotted to protest against the war in Vietnam." — Benjamin Markovits, The Spectator, 17 Nov. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Farouche    Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:32 am

Word of the Day: Farouche 

adjective 



Definition

1 : unruly or disorderly : wild

2 : marked by shyness and lack of social graces

Did You Know?

In French, farouche can mean "wild" or "shy," just as it does in English. It is an alteration of the Old French word forasche, which derives via Late Latin forasticus ("living outside") from Latin foras, meaning "outdoors." In its earliest English uses, in the middle of the 18th century, farouche was used to describe someone who was awkward in social situations, perhaps as one who has lived apart from groups of people. The word can also mean "disorderly," as in "farouche ruffians out to cause trouble."

Examples

"Though she wrote three 'novels' (more extended free associations than novels as we know them), she is best thought of as a poet of small, farouche poems illustrated with doodles…." — Rosemary Dinnage, The New York Review of Books, 25 June 1987
"Jeremy Irons's natural mode as an actor is fastidious rather than farouche, but he perfectly captures James Tyrone's professional extravagance and personal meanness." — Michael Arditti, The Sunday Express, 11 Feb. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Nomothetic    Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:37 pm

Word of the Day: Nomothetic 

adjective 


Definition

: relating to, involving, or dealing with abstract, general, or universal statements or laws

Did You Know?

Nomothetic is often contrasted with idiographic, a word meaning "relating to or dealing with something concrete, individual, or unique." Where idiographic points to the specific and unique, nomothetic points to the general and consistent. The immediate Greek parent of nomothetic is a word meaning "of legislation"; the word has its roots in nomos, meaning "law," and -thetes, meaning "one who establishes." Nomos has played a part in the histories of words as varied as metronome, autonomous, and Deuteronomy. The English contributions of -thetes are meager, but -thetes itself comes from tithenai, meaning "to put," and tithenai is the ancestor of many common words ending in -thesis—hypothesis, parenthesis, prosthesis, synthesis, and thesis itself—as well as theme, epithet, and apothecary.


Examples

"Moreover, there is the often-incorrect assumption that crimes and offenders are sufficiently similar to be lumped together for aggregate study. In such cases the resulting nomothetic knowledge is not just diluted, it is inaccurate and ultimately misleading." — Brent E. Turvey, Criminal Profiling, 2011
"First, they can expect to find an investigation of the ways in which males and females differ universally: that is, of the nomothetic principles grounded in biology and evolutionary psychology that govern sex-differentiated human development." — Frank Dumont, A History of Personality Psychology, 2010
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Wherewithal    Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:08 pm

Word of the Day: Wherewithal 

noun 


Definition

: means or resources for purchasing or doing something; specifically : financial resources : money

Did You Know?

Wherewithal has been with us in one form or another since the 16th century. It comes from our still-familiar word where, and withal, a Middle English combination of with and all, meaning "with." Wherewithal has been used as a conjunction meaning "with or by means of which" and as a pronoun meaning "that with or by which." These days, however, it is almost always used as a noun referring to the means or resources—especially financial resources—one has at one's disposal.


Examples

If I had the wherewithal, I'd buy that empty lot next door and put in a garden.
"Typically, when a person makes more money and has more savings, they add credit such as signing up for a new card or taking on a car loan. That's because they're confident they have the financial wherewithal to pay back the debt." — Janna Herron, USA Today, 5 Dec. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Gargantuan    Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:22 pm

Word of the Day: Gargantuan 

adjective 




Definition

: tremendous in size, volume, or degree : gigantic, colossal

Did You Know?

Gargantua is the name of a giant king in François Rabelais's 16th-century satiric novel Gargantua, the second part of a five-volume series about the giant and his son Pantagruel. All of the details of Gargantua's life befit a giant. He rides a colossal mare whose tail switches so violently that it fells the entire forest of Orleans. He has an enormous appetite: in one memorable incident, he inadvertently swallows five pilgrims while eating a salad. The scale of everything connected with Gargantua gave rise to the adjective gargantuan, which since William Shakespeare's time has been used of anything of tremendous size or volume.


Examples

"In 1920, the town council of Chamonix … decided to change the municipality's name to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, thus forging an official link to the mountain … with a summit that soars 12,000 feet above the town center. The council's goal was to prevent their Swiss neighbors from claiming the mountain's glory, but there was really no need: It's impossible when you're in Chamonix to ignore the gargantuan, icy beauty that looms overhead." — Paige McClanahan, The New York Times, 13 Dec. 2018
"Due to our gargantuan scope, Houston is a haven for live music. As the nation's fourth largest city, we have become a destination for touring acts by default—it certainly isn't because of our collective reputation as an audience…." — Matthew Keever, The Houston Press, 17 Dec. 2018
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PostSubject: Word of the Day: Cumulate    Yesterday at 7:18 pm

Word of the Day: Cumulate 

verb 


Definition

1 : to gather or pile in a heap

2 : to combine into one

3 : to build up by addition of new material

Did You Know?

Cumulate and its far more common relative accumulate both come from the Latin word cumulare, meaning "to heap up." Cumulare, in turn, comes from cumulus, meaning "mass." (Cumulus functions as an English word in its own right as well. It can mean "heap" or "accumulation," or it can refer to a kind of dense puffy cloud with a flat base and rounded outlines.) Cumulate and accumulate overlap in meaning, but you're likely to find cumulate mostly in technical contexts. The word's related adjective, cumulative, however, is used more widely.


Examples

"In the alternative, the company may provide greater input to minority shareholders by allowing shareholders to cumulate their votes and cast them all for one director." — Gregory Monday, The Milwaukee Business Journal, 5 Mar. 2018
"The report … compares various income estimates and reaches a similar conclusion: Most Americans have realized small annual increases that ultimately cumulated into meaningful gains." — Robert Samuelson, The Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine), 12 Dec. 2018
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