Word of the Day


An episode of Word of the Day

By Word of the Day
The huge Amazon Alexa hit Word of the Day is now available as a podcast!

Word of the Day teaches you a useful word, its definition, etymology, and gives you examples of how to use it in a sentence. A new word each and every day! Perfect for those looking to expand their vocabulary, learning English and looking for a boost and anyone who loves words.

More places to listen

More places to listen

Tradecraft is a noun that means the techniques and procedures of espionage. Our word of the day combines two common English words — ‘trade’ and ‘craft’ — to get a word that may refer broadly to the skills acquired through the experience of any trade, or more specifically, the skills of espionage. My little sister could pursue a career with the FBI when she gets older. With all of the Tradecraft she’s learned from spying on me, should would be a top notch secret agent.
October 17, 2019
Bibliolater is a noun that refers to one who is excessively devoted to books. You may recognize the word ‘bible’ in bibliolater. That’s because both words come from the Greek biblion (BEE bee yon) meaning ‘book.’ In addition to referring to a person highly devoted to books, our word of the day may also describe someone with an excessive reverence to the letter of the Bible. My son is quite a bibliolater. I’ve seen him read as many as three books a week.
October 16, 2019
Reveille is a noun that means a signal to get out of bed. In addition to providing the origin of our word of the day, Latin word vigilare (vij uh ARE ay) meaning ‘to keep watch’ and ‘to stay awake’ has given us vigil, vigilant and vigilante. In the armed forces, our word of the day refers to a bugle whose sound is intended to wake up the soldiers from sleep. But the civilians among us may also get a reveille in the form of a wake-up phone call or the ring of an alarm clock. Jason’s call at four am may not have been intended as a reveille, but it certainly served that purpose. After hearing his loud, hostile voice, I was awake for the day.
October 15, 2019
Hortative is an adjective that means strongly urging. Hortari (hor TAR ee) is Latin for ‘exhort’ or ‘urge.’ Actions that strongly urge people are deserving of our word of the day, hortative. It will take more than gentle persuasion to get Melanie to change her mind on this issue. She’ll require a hortative speech that stresses the need to act immediately.
October 14, 2019
Coming from the Latin word preada, (PRY duh) meaning ‘to prey’ (as in ‘prey on a weak victim),’ our word of the day may be used to describe a number of our friends — or enemies — of the animal kingdom. It my also be used to describe the behavior or demeanor of humans. At first JR struck me as a guy who would never take advantage of another person. It wasn’t until later that I would see how predacious his behavior could be.
October 13, 2019
Alliciency is a noun that refers to the power of attracting. Our word of the day has evolved from the Latin allicere (all ee CHAIR ay) meaning ‘to allure.’ It may be used simply to refer to attractiveness, but is best understood as a power that some have over others. We’re seeking a model with just the right alliciency. After all, we need to attract people to this product they’ve been neglecting for years.
October 12, 2019
Imperious is an adjective that means arrogant or commanding. The Latin word imperare (im pair RAWR ay) means ‘to rule or command.” A person described as imperious isn’t necessarily a ruler, but they earn the adjective by behaving as if they should be. I’ve learned that acting in an imperious way doesn’t work in our industry. It’s best to handle artistic types with a gentle hand instead of a commanding one.
October 11, 2019
Gloaming is a noun that refers to twilight or dusk. Related to the word ‘glow,’ our word of the day is of Germanic origin and now refers to a glow taking place at a specific time of the day, dusk. It is sometimes called ‘the gloaming.’ Dusk in the country feels very different than in a big city. There’s something romantic about the gloaming in an open meadow that is not dwarfed by giant skyscrapers.
October 10, 2019
Acumen is a noun that refers to the ability to make good judgements. Coming from the Latin, acuere (ah kware ay) meaning ‘to sharpen,’ our word of the day came to refer to a mental sharpness or shrewdness. Jeff was a great football player, but he simply lacks the acumen to be an effective head coach. We need someone with a sharper, more keen mind.
October 9, 2019
Alacrity is a noun that refers to brisk and cheerful readiness. The Latin word alacritas (ah lah CREE toos) means ‘liveliness’ or ‘animation.’ From this origin our word of the day emerged, retaining the same meaning. Rachel’s ability to meet all kinds of challenges with alacrity makes her an ideal employee. The guy who previously held the position was far more sluggish and that’s why he only lasted a week.
October 8, 2019
Bravura is a noun that means a display of daring. Coming from the Italian word bravo (BRAH voe) our word of the day emerged in the mid 18th century to describe a great technical skill and brilliance shown in a performance or a display of daring. I hadn’t seen the circus in years. I had forgotten how much bravura there was in the trapeze artists.
October 7, 2019
Rewild is a verb that means to restore to its natural state. The word wild, meaning ‘a natural, uncultivated state,’ is of Old English and German origin. Our word of the day adds the prefix ‘re’ and creates a verb that means to return a region to this state. I can barely recognize the area where the mall used to be. It looks as though their efforts to rewild the area have been successful.
October 6, 2019
Natant is an adjective that means swimming or floating. The Latin word natare (nah TAR ay) means ‘to swim,’ but our word of the day is distinguished from swim, because it's more likely to be used in a scientific context to describe plants or inanimate objects. Doctor Hemming’s team found a large amount of fauna natant in the lake. To this day they are not sure why it didn’t simply remain at the lake’s bottom.
October 5, 2019
Donnish is an adjective that means bookish. Derived from the Latin word dominus (DOME ee noos) meaning ‘lord or master,’ a ‘don’ came to refer to leader in a number of very different contexts. It sometimes refers to a high-ranking member of the mafia, as in Don Corleone from the movie the Godfather. But it may also mean a senior professor at a college or university. This academic meaning provides the origin of our word of the day. Donnish is an adjective that describes someone who behaves in a highly educated or bookish manner. I was surprised to learn that Jerry was a car mechanic. His donnish demeanor suggested he was some kind of scholar.
October 4, 2019
Appurtenant is an adjective that means belonging or pertinent. Coming from the Latin word pertinere (per tin AIR ay) meaning ‘to pertain’ or ‘concern’  our word of the day is similar to the words ‘pertaining’ or ‘appertaining,’ but is more likely to be used in reference to real estate to describe properties that ‘belong’ with other properties. For example: The appurtenant gazebo in the front yard added greatly to the home’s aesthetic value. Unfortunately, it also added greatly to the home’s price.
October 3, 2019
Fatuous is an adjective that means silly or foolish. Fatuus (fah TOOS) means ‘fool’ in Latin. While our word of the day is pretty much never used in a flattering context, it often simply means ‘silly’ or ‘pointless’ as opposed to downright ‘wrong.’ As usual our weekly meeting was not every productive. It mostly consisted of fatuous observations about Saturday’s softball game.
October 2, 2019
Caducity is a noun that means frailty. The Latin word cadere (cah DARE ay) means ‘to fall.’ Over the years, our word of the day would come to mean ‘liable to fall.’ Today caducity may refer to any kind of frailty, physical or otherwise. At Edwin’s age, it’s a struggle to compete with the younger athletes. His caducity has greatly limited his physical prowess.
October 1, 2019
Leporine is an adjective that means resembling a rabbit or a hare. The Latin word lepus (LAY poos) means rabbit. A person described as leporine would probably not be flattered by the word. Shaving his head bald caused an awkward emphasis on Chuck’s large ears. It gave him a leporine look he probably wasn’t hoping for.
September 30, 2019
Palmy is an adjective that means prosperous or flourishing. Palm trees may seem like an unlikely origin for word that means ‘prosperous or flourishing,’ but it would help to know that our word of the day began life because the branch of a palm tree in 14th Century England had traditionally been used as a symbol of triumph. After years of struggle, my uncle found the palmy days he’d always been seeking. It’s wonderful to seem him finally achieve success.
September 29, 2019
Literatim is an adjective that means letter for letter. Literatim comes directly from Latin. Originally meaning ‘literature,’ its meaning has shifted a little over the years and now means ‘word for word,’ as in: Our English teacher demanded that we recite the introduction to Romeo and Juliet literatim. Even the tiniest deviation from the text would not be tolerated.
September 28, 2019
Widdershins is an adverb that means in a contrary direction. Our word of the day is of German origin. It evolved from the word widersinnen (VEE der sin en) which means ‘against the way.’ In this case, the ‘way’ is clockwise, so widdershins first meant ‘counterclockwise.’ As it evolved through 16th century Scottish and eventually English, its meaning broadened a little into: ‘in a contrary direction.’ Harry has always been a contrarian. He seems to go through his daily life widdershins.
September 27, 2019
Abdicate is a verb that means to give up a position of power. The king refused to abdicate his position in spite of protests from the people. It would take much more to get him to give up that kind of power.
September 26, 2019
Thaumaturge is a noun that refers to a worker of miracles or a magician. The Greek word thaumatourgos (THOU mah too gose) refers to a ‘conjuror or worker of wonders.’ The word’s meaning has remained more or less the same, but today we’re less likely to believe in the idea of someone working miracles. Still our word of the day is always handy when a miracle worker does emerge. The medication took away my swollen feet immediately. It seemed to me that the doctor was something of a thaumaturge.
September 25, 2019
Cogitation is a noun that refers to the action of thinking deeply about something. The Latin word cogitare (KOE gee tar ay) means ‘to think’ and has given birth to a number of related English words like recognize, cognizant and cogitate, a verb that means ‘to think deeply.’ Our word of the day is a noun that is derived from cogitate. Kevin wanted to contemplate things before calling the police, but I made it clear that we needed to act immediately. This wasn’t the time for quiet cogitation.
September 24, 2019
Paradisical is an adjective that means related to or befitting paradise. The concept of paradise is old as time itself. But the word paradise comes from the Greek word paradeisos (par uh DASE ose) meaning ‘royal park.’ Our word of the day is simply a derivative that means related to paradise. There was something paradiscal about that beach. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect place.
September 23, 2019
Burgeon is a verb that means to grow or flourish rapidly The Latin word burra (BOO rah) means ‘wool.’ From there it evolved into the French word bourgeonenner (BOOGH ah nay) meaning to ‘put out buds.’ This gave birth to our word of the day, which is often used as the adjective burgeoning. We thought the controversy would harm the sales of our t-shirt. It turned out to create a burgeoning demand.
September 22, 2019
Orgulous is an adjective that means haughty or full of pride. Our word of the day emerged from Old French and gained popularity when used by 19th century historical novelist Sir Walter Scott. It has an old wold sound that may sound a little affected if used too casually. The Queen’s orgulous behavior puzzled many in the court. They’d never before seen her act in such a haughty manner.
September 21, 2019
Reticular is an adjective that means having a netlike structure. The Latin word rete (RAY tay) means ‘net.’ Something reticular resembles a net in some sense. The word is frequently used in science to describe cells that arranged in a net-like fashion. But may also be used in an everyday manner. When I saw those reticular patterns on my legs, I panicked. But the doctor told me it was perfectly normal for someone of my age.
September 20, 2019
Coriaceous is an adjective that means resembling or having the texture of leather. Corium (CORE ee oom) is the Latin word for leather or hide. This is the ancestor of our word of the day which may refer literally to something made of leather or figuratively to something that resembles the texture of leather. I usually prefer having something soft against my skin, but with winter approaching, I love the coriaceous feel of my new jacket. It’s not leather, but thankfully, it feels like it.
September 19, 2019
Volition is a noun that refers to the power of choosing or determining. The Latin word volo (VOE low) means ‘I wish’ or ‘I want.’ It would be helpful to think of a person’s volition as the ability to act as they want. At first it seemed that Sarah was forced to leave school by the administration. But we later later learned she was leaving of her own volition.
September 18, 2019
Esemplastic is an adjective that means moulding into one or unifying. There’s a good chance you recognize the word ‘plastic’ in our word of the day. Esemplastic emerged in the early 19th century by combining plastic — from the Greek plassein (PLASS ain) meaning ‘to mold’ with ‘es’ and ‘en’ meaning ‘into one.’ We needed somebody to unify our tech work with our philanthropic efforts. Fortunately we found someone with a very esemplastic mind who was able to fulfill that role.
September 17, 2019
Alameda is a noun that refers to a public walkway shaped with trees. Our word of the day comes directly from Spanish, where it referred to a poplar grove. It entered English in the late 18th century with basically the same meaning. It’s also a common baby name as well as a name of a city in north central California. The alameda looks lovely this time of year. It’s wonderful to stroll along those trees just as they beginning to bloom.
September 16, 2019
Stellate is an adjective that means star-shaped. The Latin word Stella (STAY la) means star. Over the years it has evolved into a number of English words like stellar, interstellar, constellation and, our word of the day which refers to something shaped like a star. Those stellate figures under water had me transfixed. It looked as if I was staring into the nighttime sky.
September 15, 2019
Seriatim is sometimes an adjective and sometimes an adverb that means point-by-point. Related to the word series, our word of the day comes from the Latin phrase ‘one after another.’ The lawyer’s closing argument was perfect. He refuted every accusation made by the other side seriatim.
September 14, 2019
Burnish is a verb that means to polish or shine. The French word brun (brahh) means brown. Our word of the day came about with the French word for brown was turned into a verb, meaning to ‘shine something until it became brown.’ Those old trophies in my dad’s closet look pretty worn out now, but after I burnish them, they’ll look as good as new.
September 13, 2019
Consanguinity is a noun that means close relationship or connection. Our word of the day’s first three letters C-O-N is a prefix meaning ‘with’ or ‘together.’  sanguineus (san GWEEN ee oos) on the other hand is the Latin word for ‘blood.’ When combined, they mean ‘from the same blood’ or from a common ancestor. After years of research, we discovered the consanguinity between the King and his highest ranking general. Keeping power in the family was very common in those days.
September 12, 2019
Piquant is an adjective that means having a pleasantly sharp or spicy taste. Piquant is a direct loan from our French friends. The word piquer (PEE kay) means ‘stinging or prickling.’ When the word shifted into English, its meaning shifted along with it. Now piquant had come to mean ‘pleasantly stinging.’ For context, something like mustard might be described as piquant, but not, say cornbread. I usually prefer foods with a sweet as opposed to a piquant taste. But I enjoyed the meal just the same.
September 11, 2019
Wayfaring is an adjective that means (of a person) traveling on foot. Derived from the Old English words ‘way’ and ‘fare’ wayfaring has been around since the 14th century. It has a literary sound to it, but don’t be intimidated. It sounds right at home when used in a historical context. In Medieval times, wayfaring peoples often visited villages across the river. For many of them, walking was their only option.
September 10, 2019
Olfactory is an adjective that means related to the sense of smell. The Latin word olfacere (ol fah CHAIR ay) meant ‘to smell.’ Coming direction from this origin is our word of the day which refers to anything related to the sense of smell. When Kari told me she didn’t smell anything unusual in the stockroom, I began to wonder if her olfactory skills were okay. I could smell the strange smell in that room well before I walked inside.
September 9, 2019
Trouvaille is a noun that means a lucky find. Our word of the day comes to us directly from the French word trouver (true VAY) meaning ‘find.’ But a trouvaille is lucky, which in some cases means something found that wasn’t being looked for. The old book I found at the yard sale turned out to be quite a trouvaille. I later discovered it was worth thousands of dollars.
September 8, 2019
Eleemosynary is an adjective that means related to charity. The Greek word eleimosýni (el lee Moe SEE nee) means alms or charity. From there we get our word of the day which may refer to charity in a neutral sense or it may mean ‘dependent on charity.’ The church’s eleemosynary work is usually taken care of during the summer. There’s something about that warm weather that puts people in a charitable mood.
September 7, 2019
Mien is a noun that means a person's appearance or manner. Mien originated in Middle French, where it meant “appearance” or “facial expression.” As the word shifted to modern English, its spelling changed a little, but its definition is roughly the same. A person’s mien is basically a reference to their manner — physically and otherwise. I could somehow tell that Andrew wasn’t guilty of the crimes he was accused of. There was something in his mien that suggested a man to innocent to have committed fraud.
September 6, 2019
Effigy is a noun that refers to a sculpture or a model of a person. Our word of the day began with the Latin effingere (EFF in jare ay) meaning ‘to shape.’ In time effigy came to refer something being shaped, namely a sculpture designed to resemble something else. Don’t get me wrong, I like the statue, it just doesn’t resemble the General as it was intended to. It’s lovely, but as an effigy, it has failed.
September 5, 2019
Cachet is a noun that means prestige or the state of being respected or admired. The Latin word for ‘constrain’  or ‘press’ is (co act TEAR ay). As our word of the day evolved through French it came to refer to a ‘stamp’ or ‘seal’ — as in a stamp or seal of approval. My big sale on Monday earned me lots of cachet in the office. From that point on, I had the respect and admiration of all the senior salesmen.
September 4, 2019
Harlequin is an adjective that means of varied colors. Based on an obsolete French word, harlequin got its name from the leader of a legendary troop of demon horsemen. Soon it became a name used for a character in traditional pantomime. A harlequin was usually masked and dressed in a diamond-patterned costume. Its flamboyant, colorful costume gave birth to the word harlequin as an adjective that means ‘in varied colors.’ My daughter loves to decorate things wildly and flamboyant. So when I tasked her with painting the doghouse, she came up with a lovely, harlequin scheme.
September 3, 2019
Ensconce is a verb that means to establish or settle something in a comfortable place. The Latin word for hide is abscondere (ab SKON dere ay), but our word of the day isn’t strictly a synonym of hide. When someone or something is ensconced in a comfortable place, it is not necessarily done in secret. I enjoyed my job at the recording studio. I felt that for the first time in my life, I was making a living while ensconced in a comfortable place.
September 2, 2019
Miasma is a noun that means an unpleasant smell or vapor. Our word of the day has been around since the Mid-17th century, but its roots go back to the Greeks. Defilement in Greek is mólynsi moe EES ee). Keep in mind that while miasma means unpleasant smell, it usually represents more than just your ordinary bad smell. The miasma coming from the dumpster outside was a clue that there were dangerous chemicals around. The smells Mr. Brooks discerned were far more toxic than the typical dumpster scents.
September 1, 2019
Abditory is a noun that refers to a hiding place. The Latin word abdit refers to a storage room. An abditory, more specifically refers to a place for hiding things. When I told Scott about the room in the back, I had no idea he would use it as an abditory. But you wouldn’t believe the things I found in there.
August 31, 2019
Afflated is an adjective that means inspired, especially by spiritual or divine means. Our word of the day’s earliest record use is from 19th century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The word afflate — meaning ‘blow up’ as in something done to a balloon — had already been in use, but in Barrett’s hands, the word took on a new spiritual meaning. I love gospel music. After spending a few hours listening to that divinely inspired music, I feel alllated by a higher power.
August 30, 2019
Timbre is a noun that refers to the quality of a musical sound or voice. The Greek word tumpanon (TOOM pan on) means drum, but as tumpanon has evolved into timbre, its meaning has expanded to refer to any kind of sound. You could think of a timbre as a person or thing’s unique sound. It had been years since I’ve talked to my old history, and yet I recognized Mrs. Hatch’s timbre right away.
August 29, 2019
Bequest is a noun that means legacy. The origin of bequest combines the Middle English word for ‘about’ and the Old English word for ‘speech.’ This is also the origin of the word bequeath, meaning to ‘pass something along in one’s will.’ You can think of a bequest as that which gets bequeathed — either literally or figuratively. My grandfather was a man of immense talents. But because he didn’t manage his money well, he left no bequest apart from all the entertaining stories about him.
August 28, 2019
Remontant is an adjective that means blooming more than once a season. The French word remonter (RAY mon tay) means ‘coming up again.’ That’s the origin of our word of the day that refers to a plant that blooms multiple times a season. When I saw those lovely plants rise up for the third time this year, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. I soon realized the plant was remontant.
August 27, 2019
Amalgam is a noun that refers to a mixture or blend. The Greek word malaktikos (mal ACT ee kose) means emollient. From here, the word evolved into something referring to a mixture or blend. My book featured a number of different sources. You might say it’s an amalgam of stories, and unconfirmed rumors by members of the band.
August 26, 2019
Apotheosis is a noun that means the highest point of development. Our word of the day comes indirectly from the Ancient Greeks who had the interesting habit of ‘granting’ someone in your bloodline god status. Apparently this was so common, there was a word for it. That word is our word of the day, apotheosis and its literal translation was “making into a god.”  The word’s meaning has evolved over time into its present meaning. But it’s easy to see how “making into a god” could be the basis of “the highest point of development.” Max’s career peaked in the late eighties. I feel he reached his apotheosis with his seventh album.
August 25, 2019
Confluence is a noun that means an act or process of merging.  The original meaning of confluence stems referred to a joining of rivers. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the word came from a Latin word confluere (co flew AIR ay) meaning ‘flow together.’ This is helpful to know whether using confluence in the old sense or in a sense such as: the conference was thrilling to attend. I’d never before heard such a brilliant confluence of ideas.
August 24, 2019
Orotund is an adjective that means resonant and imposing. Rotund, meaning round, has roughly the same origin of orotund. Both words come from the Latin rotundum (ro TOON doom) meaning rounded. In the case of our word of the day, it refers to the shape of a rounded mouth when making resonant sounds.  I’ve been told I should be an opera singer. I guess I have a very orutund voice. 
August 23, 2019
Otiose is an adjective that means serving no practical purpose. The Latin word otiosus (oh tee OH soos) meaning leasure, provides the origin of our word of the day. If behavior is otiose, it serves no purpose.  I always wondered why Jimmy would have a beer before completing his assignment. I soon learned that his pre-assignment drinking was purely otiose.
August 22, 2019
Frippery is a noun that means unnecessary or ornamental in architecture, dress or language.  The French word Fripere (FREE pair ee) refers to old or second hand clothes. As our word of the day evolved, it became a word for unnecessary ornament — in clothing as well as other areas, such as architecture.  Desmond is a nice guy, but his frippery can get a little annoying. He can’t say ‘good morning’ in under three thousand words.
August 21, 2019
Propagate is a verb that means to spread or promote a theory or idea widely.  The origins of our word of the day are firmly rooted in horticulture. The Latin word propagare (pro puh GAR ay) means to set a small shoot or twig cut for planting or grafting.’ The word was borrowed into the English in the late 16th century, and its earliest uses referred to the reproduction of plants or animals.  But more recently, the word’s meaning can extend to the ‘reproduction’ of something intangible, such as an idea or belief. For example: I don’t know how people at the office got the impression that they’d be reimbursed for lunch. I blame Charlie for propagating the idea.
August 20, 2019
Compendious is an adjective that means containing all the essential facts, but concise. The Latin word compendiosus (com PEN dee oh soos) means ‘advantage, brief.’ From there our word of the day was born, eventually evolving into a word for ‘containing all the essential facts, but concise.’ As a young lawyer, I could be a little verbose. Let’s just say my briefs weren’t very compendious. 
August 19, 2019
Bedazzle is a verb that means to greatly impress with skill.  The root word of bedazzle is dazzle, which means to blind someone temporarily. Bedazzle is more likely to be used metaphorically. For example: He bedazzled us with his guitar-playing skill. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
August 18, 2019
Tenebrous is an adjective that means shadowy or obscure.  Tenebrous has its origin in the Latin noun tenebrae, (TEN ay BRIE aye) meaning ‘darkness.’ It’s been used in English since the 15th century.  Those ghost stories around the campfire were awfully creepy. The tenebrous atmosphere played a big role in setting the scene. 
August 17, 2019
Acuity is a noun that means sharpness of thought, vision or hearing. Our word of the day means to be sharp, physically and mentally. So it makes sense that acuity would have evolved from the Latin word acurere (ah coo WHERE ay) meaning ‘to sharpen.’ After dad’s accident, we feared his damage would make him less responsive. But to our relief, he maintained a remarkable acuity.
August 16, 2019
Maculate is an adjective that means spotted or stained. Maculate comes from the Latin word macula (MA cool ah) meaning spot. You may have noticed the similarity between our word of the day and the word immaculate. Immaculate is the antonym, which means ‘spotless’ or ‘without stain.’  The stuff I found in the attic was pretty dirty. Mostly I found dusty old clothes and maculate portrait of my grandmother.
August 15, 2019
Ballyhoo is a noun that refers to extravagant publicity or fuss.  The origin of ballyhoo is unclear, but we do know it emerged in the late 19th century. It’s a fun word to use when you want to sound like an old-school Hollywood producer or carnival barker. The album was a big success thanks to the ballyhoo it was given by the label. Without all that publicity, I don’t think many people would have cared much about it
August 14, 2019
Procellous is an adjective that means stormy or turbulent.  Procella (pro CHELL uh) is the Latin word for squall or ‘sudden gust of wind.’ From that our word of the day evolved into a synonym of stormy or turbulent.  Driving back from Des Moines was a challenge. The procellous weather wasn’t easy to navigate. 
August 13, 2019
Innumerate is an adjective that means without basic mathematics skills.  The Latin word numero (NEW mare oh) means number. By adding the prefix I-N, we get a word that means ‘not numerate.’ The best way to think of innumerate is as the math equivalent of illiterate. A person who is illiterate cannot read. A person who doesn’t have basic math skills is innumerate.  When I was two, I found a dollar and thought I could buy a car. I suppose that was just a matter of being an innumerate child.
August 12, 2019
Agglomeration is a noun that means a large collection.  Our word of the day comes from the Latin agglomerare (a glom ay RAR ay) meaning ‘to wind or add into a ball.’ It may help to think of a ball of yarn as an agglomeration of yarn.  It was difficult to collect all of my old childhood items from my closet. It took a while to gather such a huge agglomeration of stuff.
August 11, 2019
Emissive is an adjective that means having the power to radiate light. The Latin prefix E-M-I-S-S refers to something that is ‘emitted’ or ‘sent out.’ Emissive may be used in a scientific context to refer to radiating light, or more informally it may simply refer to something like colors being emitted. For example: The cinematography of that film is stunning. I like the emissive qualities of that scene where the red lights shine through the dark sky.
August 10, 2019
Galvanic is an adjective that means sudden and dramatic. An 18th century Italian physicist Luigi Galvini made a number of key discoveries in the field of biolelectricity. The French word gavanique (gal van EEK) was first coined in his honor. It may help to think of a galvanic experience as sudden like a charge of electricity.  I was stunned by Tyler’s announcement that we had won first prize. The news hit my like an electrical shock.
August 9, 2019
Rigmarole is a noun that means a lengthy or complicated process.  In the Mid 18th century, a document that contained a list of offenses was referred to as a ragman’s role. In time, this evolved into our word of the day that has evolved into having a broader meaning. I can’t believe how long it took to have my name legally changed. The rigmarole I went through was endless.
August 8, 2019
Orbicular is an adjective that means having a rounded shape. The Latin word orbiculus (OR bee coo loose) translates roughly to ‘ball.’ And its descendant, our word of the day may refer to anything rounded in shape. Orbicular is often used by geologists to refer to rocks that are spherical in shape, but the word may be used in more informal contexts.  As a kid, I always wondered how planets developed their orbicular nature. Now as an astrophysics major, I’m getting closer to an answer. 
August 7, 2019
Convoke is a verb that means to call together or summon. Our word of the day combines the prefix C-O-N meaning ‘together’ with the Latin vocare (vo CAR ay) which means ‘call.’Convoke is typically used in a formal sense. A person is more likely to convoke a meeting or a council than, say, a party. We knew something important was happening when the head of the department convoked an emergency conference. The need to summon those people urgently indicated something dire.
August 6, 2019
Capacious is an adjective that means roomy or having a lot of space. Capacious comes from the Latin word capax (cap AXE) which roughly translates to ‘capacity.’ It may help to think of a large room as having a capacity to hold many people or things, so a capacious room would be a room with lots of space.  I love the capacious kitchen in my new apartment. It’s so nice to have enough space for everything I need to cook.
August 5, 2019
Gustatory is an adjective that means related to the sense of taste. The Latin word gustare (goo STAR ay) means ‘to taste’ and it has given us many words related to tasting, including our word of the day. Gustatory is a neutral word that refers to anything involving the sense of taste.  Whenever I taste seafood, I’m reminding of my childhood in New Orleans. Those gustatory sensations of fried shrimp on French bread immediately take me back to my favorite cafe on bourbon Street.
August 4, 2019
Pangloss is a noun that refers to a person who is optimistic regardless of the circumstances. Panglass was a character in an 18th century novel by Voltaire called Candide. The character was known for remaining upbeat and optimistic even when things were going catastrophically wrong. It’s important not to use the word to describe an ordinary optimist, but someone whose optimism has reached foolish levels. I like Janet, but she can be something of a pangloss. No matter how badly things are going, she always thinks they’ll work out for the best.
August 3, 2019
Galumph is a verb that means to move in a clumsy way.  19th century English author Lewis Carrol is best known for the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but he’s also widely been credited with adding to the vernacular by combining common words in a humorous way.  In the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland called Through the Looking Glass, he created the word ‘galumph’ by apparently combining Gallup and triumph. The result is our word of the day and although its meaning has shifted a little over the years to mean ‘to move in clumsily,’ it’s still almost never used as flattery. I can hear Jimmy galumph into the office all the way from my cubicle. That kind of clumsiness is hard to keep quiet.
August 2, 2019
Raconteur is a noun that refers to a skilled storyteller.  Raconteur comes directly from the French word raconter (RACK on tay) meaning ‘relate.’ But don’t let the word’s simple origin trick you. A raconteur isn’t just someone who relates a story. They do so in an engaging, entertaining way.  Some people doubted the veracity of Eddie’s wild stories, but personally, I found him such an extraordinary raconteur that I didn’t care whether his tales were true or not.
August 1, 2019
Enigmatic is an adjective that means mysterious.  Enigma comes to us directly from Greece, where it means ‘riddle.’ Comic book fans may recall a character named Ed Nygma, the alter ego of the Batman villain known as The Riddler. Not everyone called enigmatic has such a direct connection to riddles, but the word generally refers to those who are — like a riddle — difficult to figure out.  Having Eric as a boss can be a challenge. It’s hard to figure out the needs of someone so enigmatic. 
July 31, 2019
Aeonian is an adjective that means everlasting.  The word aeon comes from Greek, meaning ‘age,’ as in a period of time like The Stone Age. When used in geology, aeon specifically refers to a thousand million years. Aeonian may mean lasting an aeon or it may simply mean everlasting or eternal, as in: the time Aurora and I spent was limited but our love is aeonian. 
July 30, 2019
Pellucid is an adjective that means clear or easily understood. The Latin word lucere (LOO chair ay) means shine. Combined with per, for ‘through,’ we get shine through, meaning clear. Our word of the day may be used to describe something like water that is clear in a literal sense, or something like an idea or a passage of writing that is clear in a figurative sense.  The film critic’s writing was awfully clever, but I couldn’t understand what he was actually trying to say about the movie. I would have preferred he express himself with more pellucid prose.
July 29, 2019
Extemporize is a verb that means to perform without preparation.  Ex tempore (ecks TEM poor ay) is a Latin phrase that means ‘done instantly.’ From this origin we get a word that is often used when describing speeches or musical performances performed instantly as opposed to written out in advance. After getting in trouble for making highly controversial statements, the Senator’s aides recommended that he not extemporize his speeches anymore. Planning his words out in advance made more sense.
July 28, 2019
Salient is an adjective that means most noticeable or important.  The most common use of salient is to describe something that stands out or is most obviously noted. But it may also be used to describe an animal standing on its hind legs as if leaping. This explains why our word of the day comes from the Latin Salire (say LEER ay) meaning to leap. Jeff’s observation about the house’s strange smell was pretty salient. That odd odor was the first thing that stood out when we entered it.
July 27, 2019
Tumult is a noun that means a loud, confused noise. Our word of the day’s origin begins with the Latin word tumultus (too MOOL toos) meaning ‘uprising.’ An uprising is one of many things that may cause the loud, confusing noise of a tumult. I woke up to the sound of tumult outside. I later found out a fight had broken out in the street.
July 26, 2019
Surreptitious is an adjective that means done in secret.  Surreptitious comes from surripere (soo re PEER ay) the Latin word for ‘seizing or stealing secretly.’ Surreptitious behavior doesn’t necessarily involve stealing, but it typically involves doing things in secret because they are not approved of.  When we found out about those surreptitious meetings at the office, we wondered what was happening in there. As we suspected, they were discussing plans to embezzle millions
July 25, 2019
Ebullience is a noun that means a quality of being full of energy; cheerful.  Ebullience is a quality that may be described as ‘bubbling over’ with enthusiasm or joy. So it makes sense that our word of the day would come from the Latin word ebullire (eb ooh LEER ay)which means to ‘bubble out’ or ‘boil.’ Rhonda announced to her co-workers that she was pregnant. That immediately explained the ebullience on her face all week.
July 24, 2019
Omnishambles is a noun that refers to a situation where poor judgement results in chaos.  Emerging in the early 21st century, our word of the day is a very recent addition to English language, combining the Latin omnis, (OME nees) meaning ‘all’ with shambles, meaning total disorder. Craig thought he had control of the plumbing, but he returned home to find an omnishambles unfolding on his bathroom floor. 
July 23, 2019
Demotic is an adjective that means colloquial.  The greek word demos (DEM ose) refers to ‘the people.’ It’s the same word that gave us words like democratic and demographic. Demotic refers to language used by ordinary people.  People found the mayor’s speech off-putting. They would have preferred he speak in more demotic terms.
July 22, 2019
Equable is an adjective that means not easily disturbed or angered.  Aequabilis (EYE kway beel es) is Latin for ‘make equal.’ Similarly, a person with an equable personality has an ability to make their temperaments equal.  The doctor’s equable nature made him ideal for the job. His ability to remain calm in stressful situations came in handy.
July 21, 2019
Atemporal is an adjective that means existing without relation to time.  The word temporal comes from the Latin temporailis (tem poor AL is) meaning transitory. The addition of A as a suffix implies the opposite, so atemporal means ‘not transitory.’ Or ‘not limited to time. The album was released thirty years ago, but its quality is atemporal. It sounds as fresh today as it did when it was first recorded.
July 20, 2019
Equipoise is a noun that means balance of forces or interests.  Equipoise combines E-Q-U-I meaning equal and P-O-I-S-E meaning balance and gives us something that means balance of interests.  The deal struck between me and the law firm was hardly a deal between equals. It could have used a little more equipoise. 
July 19, 2019
Digerati is a noun that refers to people with expertise or personal involvement with information technology. Our word of the day is a portmenteau, meaning a combination of two words that forms another word. Digerati combines digital — meaning related to computer technology —  with literati — meaning a group of people involved in the literary world —  and gives us a word that means ‘people involved with the world of digital technology. The word emerged during the 1990s. I had a feeling the digerati would enjoy my latest novel. Its themes of digital technology seemed likely to resonate with those in the tech world.
July 18, 2019
Kenspeckle is an adjective that means easily recognizable.  The exact origin of kenspeckle is uncertain, but the word appears to have Scandinavian roots, perhaps through the Old Norse words ‘Kenna’ which means ‘to know or perceive’ and spak which means ‘wisdom.’  I could still identify the old football stadium after twenty-five years. There was something kenspeckle about those rusted old benches.
July 17, 2019
Alimentary is an adjective that means related to nourishment or sustenance.  Alimentum (ah lee MENT oom) is Latin for nourishment. After morphing a little, the word entered English in the late 16th century.  After running a marathon, the body craves something alimentary. Soda pop and crackers just won’t do.
July 16, 2019
Sanative is an adjective that means conducive to good health and well-being.  Sanative came to us from Late Middle English, but has its origin in Latin. The word Sanare (sah NAR ay) means ‘to cure.’ Our word of the day is often used to refer to diets or exercise that may have healing or healthy qualities. Since catching a cold, I’ve been eating lots of chicken soup. According to urban lore, it has sanative powers.
July 15, 2019
Improbity is a noun that means a lack of honesty or integrity.  The Latin word probus (PRO boos) means upright or generous. By adding the prefix ‘I-M’ we get the opposite meaning or ‘wicked.’  That story on the news about the horrific behavior taking place at the factory put chills through my body. I’d never before seen that kind of improbity in the workplace. 
July 14, 2019
Nubilous is an adjective that means cloudy or foggy.  Our word of the day is a direct descendent of the Latin word nubes (NOO bess) which means cloud. Nubilous may be used literally to refer to actual clouds or figuratively to mean vague or hazy, as in: I didn’t have a notion of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I just had a nubilous idea of doing something in law enforcement. 
July 13, 2019
Exonerate is a verb that means to absolve of blame.  The Latin verb exonerare (ecks on air RAHR ay) means ‘freed from a burden.’ Our word of the day is often used in a legal sense, as in: Charles assured us that the DNA would exonerate his client. And sure enough, the blood sample revealed that the defendant was not guilty of the crime.
July 12, 2019
Minutiae is a noun that means small precise details.  Minutiae is from Latin. Minutias (mi NOOT ee us) means ‘smallness.’ Our word of the day refers to smallness not in physical size but importance. I’ve got important things to worry about. I don’t have to concern myself over the minutiae of my cat’s food preferences. 
July 11, 2019
Ardor is a noun that means great passion and enthusiasm.  The Latin word ardere (ARE dare ay) means ‘to burn.’ It wasn’t far from there to get to a word that referred to a ‘burning passion.’ Working at the car wash for me, was just another job. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t say I had an ardor to clean hub caps.
July 10, 2019
Cloister is a verb that means to seclude or hide. The Latin word claudere (klow ooh DARE ay) means ‘shut’ or ‘lock’ as in something you’d do to a door. From there, the word cloister was born, originally meaning a place of ‘religious seclusion,’ then, more specifically to a monastery or convent. It may also be used metaphorically to mean ‘shut off’ as if in a monastery or convent. Jane can be something of an introvert. She has a tendency to cloister herself away for days.
July 9, 2019
Salvific is an adjective that means related to the power of salvation.  The Latin word salvus (SOL voos) means safe. Our word of the day emerged in the late 16th century, taking on a theological connotation, as in: ‘the salvific power of the Lord.’ Today the word is still used almost entirely in a religious context. Ellen treated the concert tickets as if they were religious artifacts. The way she revered them, you’d think those tickets had salvific powers.
July 8, 2019
Paseo is a noun that refers to a leisurely stroll. The Spanish word ‘paseo’ means ‘step.’ When imported into English maintained the meaning of meaning ‘a casual stroll,’ especially in the evening. I’m too tired to do my usual workout routine today. Instead I think I’ll just have a little paseo after dinner.
July 7, 2019
Raffish is an adjective that means unconventional.  The Old French words rif and raf mean, ‘one and all.’ This phrase gave birth to the term riffraff as well as our word of the day. But the two words aren’t exactly synonyms. Referring to someone as raffish is not as insulting as calling them riffraff.  When I played in a rock band, I often wore tattered clothes. They gave me the raffish look I was seeking.
July 6, 2019
The Latin word elido (el EE doe) means ‘to dash to pieces.’ The word elide first came to mean ‘omit’ in reference to a sound or syllable being omitted from a word. As time went be, the word took on another meaning. Omitting a sound or syllable often meant joining other sounds. For example, if we take ‘I will’ and omit the W and I sound, we join I and LL together to get ‘I’ll.’ To this day, elide can either mean ‘omit,’ in reference to a sound or syllable or ‘merge.’ But when it means ‘merge,’ it may refer to anything, for example: I was hoping my teacher would elide both classes. It would be nice to spend some time from the kids in room 23.
July 5, 2019
Precipice is a noun that means a steep cliff. The Latin word praeceps (PRY ay cheps) means ‘steep and headlong.’ I had an accident while climbing a mountain last year. I lost my grip of the rope and tumbled down the precipice.
July 4, 2019
Tertiary is an adjective that means third in order or level.  Our word of the day comes almost directly from Latin. The word tirtius (TEAR tee oos) means third. Tertiary is most commonly used when listing items. The first of a series would be primary. The second, secondary and the third tertiary.  The weather was the tertiary reason for my relocation to Florida. The first was my new job, and the second was the opportunity to live close to family.
July 3, 2019
Igneous is an adjective that means related to fire.  The Latin word ignis (EEN yeece) means fire. Today igneous is often used by geologists to refer to volcanoes. But it may also be used as a synonym of fire, as in: I was stunned by Irene’s igneous temper. I had never seen that fiery side of her temperament before.
July 2, 2019
Metamorphic is an adjective that means ‘related to a change or a metamorphosis.’ Our word of the day combines the Greek prefix ‘meta’ meaning ‘change’ with ‘morph’ meaning ‘form.’ This is a also where the term metamorphosis comes from. Metamorphic is simply an adjective to describe a metamorphosis or change. Winning the lottery seemed to have a metamorphic impact on Chuck’s personality. All the money clearly changed him into a very different person.
July 1, 2019
Polysemy is a noun that means possibility of many meanings for a word. Our word of the day has a fairly recent origin. It combines the Greek prefix ‘poly’ for ‘many’ and the Greek ‘simadi’ (see MA dee) meaning ‘sign.’  I encourage my students to use simple words in their writing. Polysemy can often cause unintended ambiguity.
June 30, 2019
Bevy is a noun that refers to a large gathering of people or things of a particular kind.  The precise origin of bevy is unknown, but it came to refer to a group of birds — especially quail — just as a ‘pack’ refers to a group of wolves. It may also refer to a group of people, for example: I was stunned by the bevy of movie stars I saw at the party that night. I’d never seen such a breathtaking collection of celebrities.
June 29, 2019
Aplomb is a noun that means self-confidence.  Aplomb comes from French, where it means, ‘according to a plumb line.’ A plumb line refers to a line dipped into water to determine the water level. It is steady and solid — just like a person with aplomb.  Diana’s unwavering aplomb was a great source of comfort for us. Because she didn’t lack confidence, neither did we.
June 28, 2019
Ameliorate is a verb that means to make something better.  The French word meilleur (me YARE) beans ‘better.’ This is where our word of the day comes from. Ameliorated is often, but not always, used in a medical context. When I was ill, I found that chicken soup ameliorated my cold. With every sip, I could feel my symptoms slowly fade away.
June 27, 2019
Swimmingly is an adverb that means smoothly or without problems.  The Dutch word zvem (ZVEM) is where we get swim from, but how do we get from that to a synonym of smoothly? Swimming suggests gliding motions and that suggests smooth or without problems.  Everything was going swimmingly with our experiment until the beaker exploded. After that, we had some serious problems.
June 26, 2019
Belie is a verb that means to fail to give a true impression of. In Old English the word Leogan (LEE oh gan) means to lie. It’s basically an ancestor of the current word ‘lie.’ To belie something means to make something untrue or a lie.  Ross’ brand new wardrobe belies his claims of financial hardship. There’s no way a poor person could afford such extravagant clothes. 
June 25, 2019
Variegated is an adjective that means exhibiting different colors.  The Latin word varius (VAR ee oos) means various, and it’s given birth to many words like variety, varied, and of course, variegated. The term is frequently used by botanists to describe leaves that contain multiple colors, but there’s a wide variety of ways our word of the day may be used. If you ask me, Troy’s car looks a little tacky. The variegated hub caps are a bit much.
June 24, 2019
Animus is a noun that refers to hostility or ill will.  Our word of the day comes directly from Latin, but the word has shifted meaning a little. In Latin animus (AHN ee moos) means spirit or soul. Once imported to English, animus came to mean hostility or ill feeling.  It’s unlikely that Larry harbors any animus toward me. He doesn’t seem like the type to be angry over such a minor affair.
June 23, 2019
Sillage is a noun that refers to a scent that lingers in the air.  Sillage comes directly from French where it means ‘trail,’ but unlike ‘trail’ which has a broader meaning, our word of the day almost always refers to a scent.  Finding my old lucky horseshoe in the basement wasn’t difficult. I just had to follow that unmistakable sillage of rusted metal.
June 22, 2019
Coterie is a verb that means an inner circle or clique.  In Middle Low German the word kote (KOE tuh) refers to an association of tenants. Over the years the word’s definition has broadened to mean an association of just about anyone, but usually with the implication of exclusivity.  Those guys seemed to enjoy having me around, but I never felt a part of their coterie. I guess I just wasn’t cool enough to truly be one of them.
June 21, 2019
Stentorian is an adjective that means loud or powerful in sound. Our word of the day is one of many words that have its origin in Greek mythology. In the classic work known of The Iliad, Stentor was the herald, or bringer of news, for the Greek forces. He was noted for his loud, thunderous voice. I had a feeling James wouldn’t work out as a kindergarten teacher. Something about his stentorian nature tends to frighten children.
June 20, 2019
Nonpereil is an adjective that means without equal.  In French, the prefix non simply means ‘not’ and pareil means ‘equal.’ Together they refer to a person or a thing that is without equal.  Any comparisons between this grilled cheese sandwich and any others is pointless. This grilled sandwich is simply nonpereil.
June 19, 2019
Oeuvre is a noun that means the collective works of an artist. Oeuvre comes directly from the French word for ‘work.’ It's often used by art or movie critics when describing the entire output of an artist.  That director’s latest film left me cold. But that doesn’t change my admiration of his oeuvre as a whole.
June 18, 2019
Vilipend is a verb that means to treat as worthless. Vilis (VY lis) is the Latin word for worthless. When combined with pendo (PEN doe), the Latin word for ‘considered,’ we get a word that means ‘considered or treated as if it has no worth.’  Please don’t vilipend my friend for the mistakes he has made. In spite of his sloppy work, he is a valuable employee.
June 17, 2019
Truepenny is a noun that refers to an honest person.  Truepenny is a portmanteau word that combines ‘true’ and ‘penny’ to give us a word for something genuine. A true penny, of course, refers to a coin that is exactly as it appears.  I had my doubts about Erica’s agent when we first met. But after dealing with her for many years, I can see her for the true penny she is.
June 16, 2019
Taradiddle is a noun that means a petty lie.  Jeremy Diddler was a character from an early 19th century play called Raising the Wind. From that we get the word diddle, which means to swindle. The significance of TARA added to the word is not clear, but we do know that a taradiddle is less lethal than a diddle.  Susan’s excuse about having to work on the day I needed her help annoyed me a little, but I soon forgave her. After all, an occasional taradiddle between friends is nothing to get enraged over.
June 15, 2019
Inveigle is a verb that means to persuade by deception or flattery. In Old French, the word aveugle (AH vug) meant ‘to blind.’ Our word of the day has a broader meaning than ‘to blind,’ but it must be remembered that to persuade someone through deception or flattery is to blind them.  I got the feeling the salesman was trying to inveigle me into a higher price. Every time I asked about the car’s features, he would mention how much he admired my haircut.
June 14, 2019
Compunction is a noun that means guilt or remorse.  The Latin word pungere (POON Jay ray) means ‘to prick.’ This was combined with C-O-M, a suffix that implies excessive force. That gave us compungere (com poon JAY ray) which meant ‘to prick sharply.’ It may help to think of compunction as a sharp prick or stab at one’s conscience.  Terry was tempted to use the handicapped parking sticker he found in the parking lot, but his conscience wouldn’t let him. As he walked into the store, it occurred to him that compunction has a way of limiting his parking options.
June 13, 2019
Venial is an adjective that means slight or pardonable.  The word venia (VEN ee uh) is Latin for forgiveness. Our word of the day is pretty much always used to refer to a sin or mistake. A venial sin is one that can be forgiven. A mortal sin, on the other hand, cannot. The cook badly burned my pork chops last Thursday. But, as it was a venial sin, I let the matter slide.
June 12, 2019
Presentiment is a noun that means a feeling that something is about to happen. The French word pressentiment (press SAHN tee mon) is the origin of our word of the day, which describes an intuitive feeling about the future. The word is usually used in a foreboding sense. For example: Entering the stadium, I had a presentiment about the upcoming game. I could sense that our team was going to get clobbered. 
June 11, 2019
Pert is an adjective that means lively or cheerful. The Latin word apertus (ah PEAR toos) meaning ‘opening’ is where our word of the day was born. In time, the word’s meaning shifted to its current meaning of ‘lively’ or ‘energetic.’ When used pejoratively it can mean ‘bold’ or ‘saucy.’ When used positively it can mean cheerful, as in: Rachel’s pert behavior made her well-liked at the office. Something about her cheerful demeanor brightened everyone’s day.
June 10, 2019
Camarilla is noun that means a small group of people with a shared purpose. Our word of the day comes from Spanish. It’s the diminutive of the word camera (COM ay rah) meaning ’room,’ as in a place where political cliques and plotters are likely to meet. The word soon evolved to refer to the plotters themselves. It has also expanded to use outside of politics.  The CEO knew things were serious when a camarilla of employees gathered outside his office. He didn’t know why they had united, but he knew it had to be important.
June 9, 2019
Myrmidon is a noun that means a subordinate who carries out orders without question. In Greek mythology there’s a tale about a group of warriors from Thessaly (THES a lee) who accompanied Achilles to Troy. When using mymidon today, a person doesn’t have to be especially warlike to earn the title. They must simply be a subordinate who takes orders without regard for moral consequences.  I don’t think it was Marie who was responsible for slashing my tires. It’s more likely that the task was done by one of her mymidons.
June 8, 2019
Banausic is an adjective that means mundane or only serving a practical purpose. The Greek word for artisans is banausikos (aon ah SEE kos). If artisans seems like a strange way to define a word for mundane, keep in mind that the word artisans didn’t necessarily refer to artists. It referred broadly to anyone who was skilled at making things with their hands. That mostly included people making pretty mundane things like cups or knives. Everyone raved about the psychedelic poster covering the hole on my wall.. Little did they know it was there for banausic reasons.
June 7, 2019
Ariose is an adjective that means songlike.  Music lovers may be familiar with an aria, a song performed by a solo voice in an opera. Ariose comes from the same root, the Latin word aer (EYE ur) meaning ‘air.’ Describing something as ariose can be a supreme compliment, for example: It always surprised me that Michelle never pursued a career in music. With her ariose voice, she would have been a big success.
June 6, 2019
Minerva is a noun that means a woman of great wisdom. Fans of Roman mythology may recall Minerva as the Goddess of wisdom. So referring to somebody — even a mere mortal — as a Minerva is another way of identifying her a source of great wisdom.  To most people, my Grandmother was just an ordinary lady. But after all the brilliant advice I’d gotten from her I came to recognize her as a Minerva.
June 5, 2019
Moonstruck is an adjective that means dreamily romantic or bemused by love. Our word of the day combines the familiar word ‘moon’ with the past participle of strike, to give us a way to describe someone who’s been metaphorically ‘struck’ or affected by the moon. Keep in mind that in the late 17th  century, when moonstruck came to life, it was common for people to believe the moon had special powers to affect our behavior. Today, we simply think of moonstruck as a metaphor for being high on love. Having a crush on his classmate has put Kevin in a strange mood. I’ve never seen him this moonstruck before.
June 4, 2019
Auspice is a noun that means support or help. The Latin word auspex (OW speks) means ‘observer of birds.’ If that seems an odd place for our word of the day to take flight, consider the phrase ‘take him under your wing,’ meaning provide protection and support for him. That’s exactly the kind of context that auspice is best used. I spent my first year at the studio under the auspice of a wonderful director. With his support and protection, I soared as a filmmaker.
June 3, 2019
Simon-pure is a noun that means a completely authentic person.  Our word of the day comes from 18th century satirical play called Bold Stroke for a Wife. The name Simon-pure came to mean ‘authentic’ partly because the character is impersonated by someone else for most of the play and is only revealed to be ‘authentic’ when when the real Simon-pure identifies himself. Also the character is a Quaker preacher who is ‘authentic’ in the sense of being ‘honest.’ Today the word is often used in a sarcastic sense. For example: Desmond comes across like such a Simon-Pure, but I think it’s all a facade. Deep down, he’s just as devious as anyone else. 
June 2, 2019
Gourmand is a noun that means a person who loves to eat.  Our word of the day comes directly from Old French where it meant ‘wine taster.’ More recently, the word’s appetite has expanded to include food. And in case you’re wondering, ‘gourmand’ has the same origin as ‘gourmet.’  — as in ‘a gourmet chef.’ They both mean ‘a connoisseur of good food,’ but gourmand is more likely to refer to somebody who enjoys eating that food — not necessarily cooking it. Over the years, being a gourmand has expanded my cultural horizons a great deal. But unfortunately all that savoring of French and Italian cuisine has also expanded my waistline.
June 1, 2019
Maffick is a verb that means to celebrate extravagantly.  Mafeking is the capital city of the North-West Province of South Africa. It was the sight of the siege of  Mafeking during the Second Boer War. British troops had taken the city under siege. And when their reign had ended in May of 1900, the city engaged in extravagant public celebration. Our word of the day is used to describe that sort of celebration.  The city officials should have expected the citizens to maffick after their team had won the cup. That sort of celebration is not unusual after a big victory.
May 31, 2019
Notional is an adjective that means existing only in theory.  The Latin word notio (NO tee oh) means notion, which simply means ‘an idea.’ Something that is notional exists only as an idea — not in real life. Craig’s notional thoughts about what we could do with the park swimming pool sounded great. Too bad they were so unrealistic.
May 30, 2019
Veristic is an adjective that means extremely naturalistic. Our word of the day is one of many words derived from the Latin word verum (VAIR oom) meaning truth. There’s also veracity, verily and previous word of the day verisimilitude. Veristic is frequently used to describe artwork that is naturalistic in nature.  I enjoy the veristic quality of my daughter’s paintings. Those lush landscapes seem so real.
May 29, 2019
Bemuse is a verb that means to puzzle or confuse.  Bemuse comes from the Old French word muser (MOO zay) means to be absorbed in thought. To bemuse someone means to entrance them usually with something odd or confusing.  Kate’s actions often bemused be. I found myself endlessly puzzled by her odd behavior.
May 28, 2019
Vestiture is a noun that means clothing.  The Latin word vestire (ve STEER ay) has given birth to many words, included a few related to clothing, like vest and vestment. Our word of the day is simply a synonym of clothing, but is probably best used in a more formal context.  Terry’s vestiture suggested he was on his way to a job interview. I hadn’t seen him that dressed up in years.
May 27, 2019
Holophrase is a noun that means a single word that expresses a sentence.  Our word of the day combines the Greek prefix ‘holo’ meaning whole and the Latin phrasis (pee ROCK sees) meaning ‘expression.’ Together they mean a single word that conveys an entire sentence. Howdy, a single word that means ‘how do you do.’ Is an example of a holophrase.  At first I was confused when Corey raced into the room and shouted, ‘pizza!’ But after knowing him for a while, I’ve realized this was just a holophrase for ‘I must have some pizza now.’ By the way, a holophrase is sometimes known as a holophrasis.
May 26, 2019
Languor is a noun that means a state of dreaminess or exhaustion. The Latin word Languere (land GWARE ay) means ‘illness’ or ‘distress,’ but our word of the day is pretty versatile, and it may refer to any state that leaves you drained, for example: Ever since running that marathon yesterday, I’ve had no energy. I hope this languor goes away before reporting to work tomorrow. 
May 25, 2019
Atavistic is an adjective that means related to something ancient.  The Latin word atavus (AH tah voos) means forefather and atavus could be considered the forefather of our word of the day. When we describe something as atavistic, we’re usually not referring to a specific forefather or ancestor, but more generally, to something ancient.  As an archeologist, I love finding ancient civilizations. It’s such a joy to be surrounded by atavistic artifacts. 
May 24, 2019
Acclivity is a noun that means an upward slope. The Latin word for ‘slope’ clivus (KLEE voos) is the origin of our word of the day. Its antonym is declivity, meaning downward slope. Jogging up that street was a real challenge. By the time I’d get through running up that acclivity, I’d be winded.
May 23, 2019
Tendentious is an adjective than means intending to advance a particular cause or point of view. Tendentious is a word that comes from the German tendenzios (ten den SYOOS) that means in a biased or partisan way.  I was fired from my job as a college professor for not teaching history in an objective way. They simply felt my interpretations of the facts were tendentious. 
May 22, 2019
Scapegrace is a noun that means a mischievous young person.  Our word of the day is a good old portmanteau, a word that is formed by combining two different terms. In this case ‘escape’ and ‘grace’ come together to refer to a person who has escaped the grace of God. But don’t be intimidated that daunting definition. The word often refers simply to a mischievous little brat.  I can’t believe what a fine young man Brian as grown up to be. I always suspected that little scapegrace would grow up to lead a life of crime.
May 21, 2019
Otic is an adjective that means related to the ear.  The Greek word for ear is aufti (off TEE) which gave birth to our word of the day.  Once again, otic is spelled O-T-I-C. It’s usually used in a medical context as opposed to a word like aural that may refer to hearing. The doctor was initially reluctant to perform surgery on my ear. He was afraid that all that otic fluid would be a problem. 
May 20, 2019
Opprobrium is a noun that means public disgrace. Our word of the day comes directly from Latin. It combines the prefix ‘O-B,’ meaning ‘against’ with probrum (PRO broom) which means ‘disgraceful act.’  Public officials who get caught taking bribes get no symphony from me. I say let them spend the rest of their careers in opprobrium. 
May 19, 2019
Nettlesome is an adjective that means irritable or difficult.  A plant called the nettle has jagged leaves covered with stinging hairs. And this irritable plant naturally gave birth to our word of the day which means irritable. The old meaning of nettlesome was ‘to beat or sting someone with nettles,’ but more recently the word is used in a figurative sense, such as: Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that my nephew has a curious mind. But his endless questions can be nettlesome after a while. 
May 18, 2019
Nascent is an adjective that means just coming into existence.  In Latin, the word Nasci (NAAH shee) means to be born. This, of course, was the birthplace of our word of the day. In chemistry the word nascent means ‘freshly generated.’ But in everyday use, it usually refers to something new that has signs of potential.  Years ago our company invested in the nascent video game industry. The industry was new, but we were confident in its potential. 
May 17, 2019
Fecund is an adjective that means highly fertile.  Our word of the day comes from the Latin word for fertile, fecudus (fee KOON doos). Fecund may be used in a medical sense to refer to a pregnant woman, in a botanical sense, to refer to a fecund garden, or, in a figurative sense, as in: Kelly’s fecund mind ever ceases to astonish me. We never know what kind of creative idea she’ll come up with next.
May 16, 2019
Labile is an adjective that means easily altered or unstable. Labile originates from the Latin word labi (LAH bee) which means ‘fall’ or ‘slip.’ This is why in chemistry our word of the day is often used to mean ‘easily broken down’ or ‘displaced.’ In everyday use, labile may refer to a person’s health or their emotions, as in: It’s been a rough year for Randal. After all the ups and downs he’s experienced, his state of mind has become quite labile.
May 15, 2019
Accretion a noun that means the process of gradual growth.  The Latin word for grow is accidere (ah CHEE dare ay), which, over time gradually grew into our word of the day. Accretion is often used to describe a natural process of growth that you may see in a lawn or a body of water. But it may also be used to describe something like a city’s growth. For example: the accretion of the downtown area has been interesting to watch over the years. In all my years as a city planner I’ve never seen such broad expansion.
May 14, 2019
Hibernal is an adjective that means pertaining to winter.  The Latin word for winter is hibernum (HE burn um) which, over time, has evolved into words like hibernate and our word of the day hibernal, which refers to anything related to winter.  As I kid I loved winter. My favorite things included such hibernal activities as skiing, sledding and making snow angels.
May 13, 2019
Librate is an adjective that means to poise or remained balanced.  The Latin word for poise or balance is libramen (lee BRAHM en) where our word of the day comes from. It may be used in a scientific sense to refer, for example, to molecule holding in place by oscillating. Or it may be used in a more every day sense to simply mean ‘balance.’  It’s lovely to see those birds librate on the telephone wire. I’m amazed at their ability to stay in place without falling.
May 12, 2019
Vivify is a verb that means to enliven or bring to life.  Vivus (VEE voos) the Latin word for life has, appropriately, given life to many common words in English. There’s vivid, vital, vitamin, vivacious and, of course, our word of the day, vivify. It’s usually applied metaphorically to refer to something made to seem alive.  Mrs. Brailey was such an extraordinary history teacher. I’ve known anyone better at vivifying the past.
May 11, 2019
Pawky is an adjective that means showing a sardonic wit.  The word pawk comes from Scottish and Northern English and refers to a trick. A pawky person could be considered snide or sardonic. Those pawkly little barbs of yours may get you laughs in the classroom. But they could also get you sent to the principal’s office. 
May 10, 2019
Rebarbative is an adjective that means causing annoyance or irritation.  The Latin word for beard is barba (BAR buh) which may seem like an odd origin for a word that means ‘causing annoyance or irritation,’ until you consider the journey that our word of the day has taken over the years. Rebarbative is derived from the phrase ‘standing beard to beard,’ which means ‘opposing’ or ‘standing against.’ So you may think of rebarbative behavior as behavior that annoys or irritates someone.  I can’t believe our boss allowed Chuck to get away with such rebarbative behavior. Taking a nap during a staff meeting is the kind of oppositional act that can a person fired at this firm.
May 9, 2019
Betide is a verb that means to take place.  Our word of the day comes from Middle English and although its meaning — ‘to happen’ or ‘take place’ — is fairly simple, it’s probably best used in a context that suits its old school origin. The Duke was wary of the upcoming battle. With the fate of his soldiers unclear, he wasn’t sure what would betide. 
May 8, 2019
Ambrosial is an adjective that means fragrant or pleasant taste. Our word of the day comes from Greek mythology, where it meant ‘worthy of the gods.’ But it’s just fine to use ambrosial in a more mundane way, such as: the ambrosial scent of my new workplace was a lovely surprise. After all those years of working in sanitation disposal, I wasn’t used to a pleasant-smelling environment.
May 7, 2019
Amorist is a noun that means someone who writes about love. Speakers of Spanish and Italian may be familiar with the words amor (ah MORE) and amore (ah MORE ay) that mean ‘love.’ They both have their roots in the Latin word amor (ah MORE). By adding the suffix “I-S-T’ we get a word that refers to someone who specializes in ‘love.’ This may refer broadly to anyone in love or more specifically to someone who writes about love.  Shelly’s flowery, romantic writing style simply isn’t suited for the genre of military thrillers. She is an amorist at heart.
May 6, 2019
Asperse is a verb that means to criticize or attack the character of someone.  The Latin word aspergere (a SPARE ghere ay) means ‘to sprinkle’ or ‘to splatter.’ This may seem like an odd origin for a word that means ‘to attack someone’s character,’ but it may help to think of aspersing someone as splattering criticism on their reputation. For example: As a political commentator, I hesitate to asperse a politician’s reputation based on a single act. I would hate to poison their career without knowing anything about their character.
May 5, 2019
Ophidian is an adjective that means pertaining to or having the characteristics of a snake. The Greek word for ‘snake’ is Ophia (OH fee uh) a word that, over the centuries has morphed into our word of the day. Ophidian may be used literally to refer to an actual snake or figuratively to describe someone whose demeanor may remind you of those creepy little reptiles, for example: On the surface, Brad seems like a perfectly upright, honest salesman. But when you get to know him and his sales tactics, his true ophidian nature is revealed. 
May 4, 2019
Apodictic is an adjective that means clearly established or beyond dispute.  The Greek word apodeiktikós (ap oh deek TEEK os) means ‘demonstrable.’ You could think of an apodictic fact as something that has been demonstrated to be true.  After only a few hours of trial, the jury came to see the defendant’s guilt as apodictic. There was simply no doubt that he was the culprit.
May 3, 2019
Inculcate is a verb that means to instill (an idea).  The Latin word calco (CAHL ko) means to ‘tread’ or ‘trample upon.’ The word’s meaning has shifted over the years to refer to instilling something in somebody’s head. Our job as teachers isn’t just to provide information. We must also inculcate a love of education in our students.
May 2, 2019
Irresolute is an adjective that means uncertain.  The Latin word resolvere (ray sol VAIR ay) means resolved. From this we get resolute, meaning ‘determined’ and ‘unwavering.’ Our word of the day is the opposite. A person who is irresolute is wavering and undetermined.  With so many offers from colleges, it’s not surprising that Michelle is irresolute. The last time I checked she still hasn’t made up her mind. 
May 1, 2019
Acquisitive is an adjective that means excessively interested in acquiring money or material things. In Latin, acquiro (ah KWEE roe) means ‘to get’ or ‘obtain.’ The word’s distant relative acquisitive basically carries the same meaning, ‘excessively interested in getting or obtaining things.’ The word is pretty much always used in a judgmental or pejorative sense. You could think of it as a synonym of greedy.  Although Doris was surrounded by opulent artifacts at the museum all day, she was never tempted to steal anything. Thankfully, she wasn’t a very acquisitive person.
April 30, 2019
Vaunt is a verb that means to boast about or praise something excessively.  The Latin word vanus (VAAH noos) means ‘vain,’ and that’s the birthplace of our word of the day, vaunt. The word later came to refer to praising someone excessively, usually in a way that may make them vain. I always make sure to vaunt the salesman shortly after arriving at the car dealership. There’s something about an inflated ego that makes them a little more agreeable.
April 29, 2019
Galoot is a noun that means a clumsy or foolish person.  It’s not clear which language galoot takes its origin from, but we know the word was first used to refer to  inexperienced marines. It may be used playfully or abusively.  I probably looked like a galoot when I showed up for my first day for work in an ill-fitting shirt. I had to explain that my washing machine was broken and that I wasn’t an idiot.
April 28, 2019
The Latin word for ‘educate’ is erudio (air oo DEE oh). From this we get our word of the day. But  It’s best not to use erudite in the everyday sense of the word ‘educated.’ Your twelve-year-old may be educated in their ABCs, but probably won’t be considered erudite until getting that PhD from an ivy league University.  Brad did his best to come across erudite in the job interview. He even went so far as to memorize quotes from famous philosophers.
April 27, 2019
Malapert is an adjective that means boldly disrespectful.  Malapert combines the suffix ‘mal,’ meaning ‘badly,’ and ‘apert,’ meaning ‘skilled.’ It may help to think of a malapert person as badly skilled in all things social.  After his malapert behavior at his sister’s wedding, Toby hasn’t gotten many wedding invitations. Heckling the pastor really wasn’t a good idea.
April 26, 2019
Toothsome is an adjective that means pleasing to taste or palatable.  Coming from Old English, our word of the day combines the familiar word ‘tooth,’ which was often used to refer to a person’s appetite, with ‘some’, a suffix that means ‘tending to’ or ‘causing.’  That toothsome apple pie is tempting me to forget all about my diet. It’s so appetizing I simply don’t care about how many calories it contains.
April 25, 2019
Snarf is a verb that means to eat or drink quickly or greedily.  The precise origin of our word of the day isn’t known, but snarf may be one of many words that were born in an effort to imitate the sound made by the word’s action. In other words, when you snarf down food or drink, you probably make a sound like snarf.  I didn’t want to snarf down my meal at such a formal dinner party, but I was so famished, I could’t help but devour my beef stroganoff in a single gulp.
April 24, 2019
Indwell is a verb that means to be permanently present in someone's mind.  Our word of the day is a combination of two fairly common English words ‘in’ and ‘dwell.’ It may be best to think of it as a verb that basically means to ‘dwell in’ someone’s mind. For example: Erica’s sentimental goodbye may indwell my head forever. I don’t think I’ll ever forget those lovely words.
April 23, 2019
Avulsion is a noun that means the act of pulling or tearing away.  A combination of the Latin words for ‘from’ and ‘pluck’ give us avallere (ah val AIR ay). In time, this morphed into avulsion, meaning to pull or tear away. The word may be used literally or figuratively, as in: Chuck’s avulsion from his family was a painful thing to see. It’s never pleasant to watch someone get separated from loved ones.
April 22, 2019
Supernal is an adjective that means related to the sky or the heavens.  The Latin word supernus (soo PAIR noos) means above or superior. From that we get our word of the day which means anything that refers to the skies or heavens above us.  My great grandfather was deathly afraid of getting on a plane. This was fairly common among people who grew up in the days when supernal travel was new and believed to be dangerous.
April 21, 2019
Nescient is an adjective that means lacking knowledge.  The Latin word scire (SHE ray) for knowledge has given us lots of words related to knowledge. There’s science, conscience and omniscience to name a few. And there’s our word of the day, which, combined with ’N E,’ meaning ‘not,’ gives us a word that means ‘lacking knowledge.’ Rob seems to wear his nescience as a badge of honor. It’s as if he’s proud to know nothing.
April 20, 2019
Puffery is a noun that means false or exaggerated praise.  The word puff, as in something you’d do into a balloon to blow it up, has its origin in Middle English. Like many words, it began as an effort to imitate the sound made while performing the act.  Our word of the day is more likely to be used metaphorically. You may think of puffery as something you do to inflate someone’s ego, just as puffing would inflate a balloon. Whenever we need a favor from the mayor, a little puffery over the phone doesn’t hurt. Having his ego flattered always seems to put him in a generous mood.
April 19, 2019
Ineluctable is an adjective that means not to be avoided or resisted. The Latin word luctari (LUKE tar ay) means to struggle. From this root comes ineluctable, which means something you can’t struggle free from.  I was hoping I could get by without having to face Harvey at the office this week. I soon realized that when Harvey is a bad mood, dealing with him is ineluctable.
April 18, 2019
Mordant is an adjective that means having a sharp or critical manner. You may have heard the word mordacious used to describe a dog inclined to bite. Our word of the day is also derived from the word bite. Both words come from the Latin word Mordere (MORE dair ay) which means — you guessed it — bite. But our word of the day is more likely to be used figuratively, as in: Shelly’s mordant wit doesn’t always go over so well with her teachers. They don’t find her biting remarks to be helpful in the classroom. 
April 17, 2019
Paragon is a noun that means a model of excellence.  The Greek word parakanon (pahr AHK uh non) means to sharpen. It later came to refer to a stone that was used to sharpen something, a touchstone. This made paragon a synonym of touchstone in the other sense of the word, a test for determining the quality of something.  Some people think my little puppy looks a little weird, but I think little Eva is the paragon of canine beauty. All dogs should be that adorable.
April 16, 2019
Waggish is an adjective that means playful or mischievous.  Waggish comes to us from Old English. A Wagghalter is a now obsolete English word from centuries ago that referred to someone likely to be hanged — presumably from their playful for mischievous behavior. In more recent years we can refer to waggish behavior in less serious terms, for example: At first, I panicked when I saw what appeared to be a snake on my office chair. I soon realized this was just a waggish prank by a co-worker.
April 15, 2019
Aphorism is a noun that means a short observation that contains a general truth.  Our word of the day comes to us directly from Ancient Greek. It may help to think of an aphorism as something you might hear from a wise ancient philosopher.  I’m always encouraged when my daughter asks questions. After all, according to Socrates’ lovely aphorism, ‘wonder is the beginning of wisdom.’
April 14, 2019
Pontificate is a verb that means to express one's opinion in a pompous way.  Our word of the day comes to us from the Catholic Church through the Latin word pontifex (PONE tee fecks) meaning ‘high priest or bishop.’ In time it came to be used outside of the church to refer to someone smugly offering their opinion as if came from God above.  Andy loves to pontificate on every film he sees. It wouldn’t occur to him to consider that his opinion could be wrong. 
April 13, 2019
Fabulist is a noun that means a person who invents elaborate and dishonest stories.  Fabulist has its roots in the word fable, which comes to us from the Latin fabula (FAB oo la). It may refer either to a person who tells fables or a person who lies.  Angie’s tales of growing up in rural Montana are a bit exaggerated. But she’s such an imaginative fabulist that I don’t care whether her stories are true or not. 
April 12, 2019
Abience is a noun that means a strong urge to avoid something.  Our word of the day comes from the Latin word abeo (AH bay oh) which means ‘to go away.’ Its descendent abience is commonly used in a psychological context, for example: the patient’s abience of sporting events suggests he’s had some bad experiences with them in the past. It is common for people to avoid activities that remind them of childhood pain.
April 11, 2019
Philocaly is a noun that means a love of beauty.  You may know from other words of Greek origin like philosophy and philomath that philocaly’s first five letters — PHILO — indicate a love of something. In this case it’s a love of beauty as ‘caly’ comes from the Greek word kallos (KAHL os) meaning ‘beauty.’ My love of Ancient Greek art is driven by a philocaly. The stunning beauty of the way the human body is presented is difficult to find anywhere else.
April 10, 2019
Sough is a verb that means to rustle, moan or sigh.  Sough comes to us from Middle English. It looks and sounds a lot like the word ‘sigh,’ but sough is a broader word that may refer either to the sound coming from the lungs of an exasperated person or the wind rustling through trees.  As a kid I always loved the sounds of our rural neighborhood. In particular, the way the wind would sough through the trees always felt lovely.
April 9, 2019
Galere is a noun that means a group of undesirables.  Galere comes from French, and you may be able to guess from the word’s spelling that it shares an ancestor with the word ‘gallery.’ It may help to think of a galere as a gallery of unpleasant people.  Those thugs in the hallway frightened me. I’d never seen a more menacing galere of creeps in my life.
April 8, 2019
Friable is an adjective that means easily broken or crumbled.  Friable comes for the Latin word friabilis (free AH bee lees) meaning ‘crumble.’ A friable object can be easily crumbled or broken into many pieces.  The guys in the moving van did a horrible job with our dishes. They placed the most friable objects in areas they were most likely to be damaged.
April 7, 2019
Wifty is an adjective that means light-headed or scatterbrained.  It’s appropriate that our word of the day is a synonym of unclear. But its linguistic origin is unclear. But we do know that it was first used by an early twentieth century poet and novelist named Gilbert Frankau. Tommy seemed wifty after taking a blow to the head. This worried us until we realized that Tommy always seemed a little scatter-brained whether he’d taken a blow to the head or not.
April 6, 2019
Alate is an adjective that means having wings. The Latin word Alatus (AH lah toos) is where our word of the day comes from. It’s mainly used to refer to insects or seeds.  Before my trip to Florida, I’d never seen an alate ant. Having an ant flying toward me was a pretty scary sight for an eight-year-old.
April 5, 2019
Skeuomorph is a noun that means a digital object or feature that imitates a physical object. Our word of the day has its roots in Greek. It’s a combination of the word skeuos (SKYOO ohss) meaning ‘container’ and morphe (MORE fay) meaning ‘form.’ Together they refer to some kind of digital object that imitates a physical object — like a trash can icon on your computer that indicates where you put files to discard.  I couldn’t figure out why the skeuomorph of a cassette tape puzzled my daughter so much. I soon figured out that the kids of her generation have never seen a cassette tape in real life. 
April 4, 2019
Métier is a noun that refers to an activity one is good at. As you might guess, metier (MAY tee ay) comes directly from the French. It may refer to a person’s career or just something they’re good at.  I used to think I’d be great at golf if I ever tried it. But after a few rounds with Mr. Glover, I realized the sport wasn’t my metier. 
April 3, 2019
Acolyte is a noun that means one who assists.  Acolyte originated from the Greek work akolouthos (ah KOE loo thos) but it was the Catholic Church who popularized the term by using acolyte to describe someone who has been ordained to carry wine, water and lights at Mass services.  The word still has this meaning today, but it may also be used to describe someone who is a sidekick or assistant in the same way that an acolyte in the church could be considered an assistant to a priest.  Sheryl’s workload as manager of this office is way too big. She could use an acolyte to take care of the tasks she has to perform. 
April 2, 2019
Remuneration is a noun that means payment for a service or work.  Our word of the day takes root in the Latin word remunera (ray MOON ay ruh) which means reward. Remuneration can mean the same as ‘payment,’ but its a broader word, that can refer to something other than money, for example: It felt great to take a dip in Aunt Shelly’s swimming pool after mowing her lawn. It was wonderful remuneration for a few hours of hard work. 
April 1, 2019
Nexus is a noun that means a connection or link between two things.  Our word of the day comes directly from Latin. Its pronunciation has changed over the years from NECK soos to NECK sis, but its meaning is the same. It refers to something that links two things, for example: My old high school was a helpful nexus to many close friends.  Without old St. Augustine High, I would have never been connected with great people like Nick, Erin and Smitty.
March 31, 2019
Melee is a noun that means a confused fight or struggle.  Melee comes from the Latin word misceo (mish AY oh) which means a mix or a blend or various elements. You can think of a melee as an awkward mix of people engaged in a struggle or fight.  What started as an ordinary line in front of the retail store soon turned into a melee. The store owners admitted it may have been a mistake to announce a half-price off sale with such a large crowd waiting. 
March 30, 2019
Jaunty is an adjective that means having a lively and self-confident manner.  The French word gentil (ZHAN tee) means kind. From there we get jaunty whose meaning has shifted over the years to mean lively and a little cocky.  Arnold’s jaunty demeanor can often put people off. He’s often regarded as cocky. 
March 29, 2019
Carceral is an adjective that means related to prison.  Our word of the day may remind you of incarcerate — and for good reason. They both came from the Latin word Carcer (CAR cheh) which means jail or prison. Carceral is a broad term that means anything related to prison.  Our theatre troupe made seventeen performances last year. But that’s not including the carceral performances we made to entertain inmates. 
March 28, 2019
Peripeteia (PAIR uh puh tay uh)  is a noun that refers to a sudden reversal of fortune.  Our word of the day comes directly from the Greeks. It’s derived from the words that mean ‘around’ and ‘fall.’ The Greeks used it often in tragedy, which would feature a mighty figure seeing his or her fortune disappear, but the word may be used in more lightweight circumstances too: After find a winning night at poker, Bradley found a peripeteia the next day. He woke up and discovered he’d been robbed. 
March 27, 2019
Mettlesome is an adjective that means full of vigor and stamina.  The root of our word of the day is mettle M-E-T-T-L-E.  a 16th century, variation of metal — M-E-T-A-L, that means the same thing, but used in a more figurative sense. For example, a soldier’s mettle — with two Ts — refers to his courage and stamina.  At first I worried about how our team would face adversity. But I soon discovered that we were a mettlesome bunch.
March 26, 2019
Refection is a noun that means refreshment by food or drink.  Our word of the day began as the Latin word for ‘renew.’ Reficiere (REF ee chee air ay) that over time evolved into refection. I had a quick burger after work. It wasn’t a full meal, but it was enough to give me the refection I needed after a rough day. 
March 25, 2019
Roborant is an adjective that means having a strengthening or restorative effect.  The latin word roboros (ro BORE ohs) means “I strengthen.” Its distant offspring roborant, refers to anything that has a strengthening effect. I took a really roborant nap this afternoon. When I woke up, I had enough energy to conquer my workload. 
March 24, 2019
Pugnacious is an adjective that means likely to fight or quarrel.  Pugno (POON yo) is the Latin word for ‘fight.’ It’s where we get words like pugilist, impugn and of course, our word of the day pugnacious.  Martha can be a bit pugnacious when she doesn’t get her way. We were afraid of how she would react when we didn’t give her a pony for her birthday. Pugnacious is spelled P-U-G-N-A-C-I-O-U-S. 
March 23, 2019
Rectitude is a noun that means morally correct behavior or thinking. The Latin word rectus (RECK toos) means straight or direct. From this we get our word of the day which is often used in a high-brow setting. The Lord and Lady’s rectitude is admired across the land. Their conduct is above reproach. Rectitude is spelled R-E-C-T-I-T-U-D-E.
March 22, 2019
Parry is a a verb that means to ward off or evade.  Our word of the day comes from Latin. The word parare (puh RAH ray) means ‘to ward off or defend.’ It’s a good word to use to describe someone in a fight — whether the fight is physical or verbal.  I tried to slip under Gerry’s guard with my sword. But he was fast enough to parry my blow. Once again, parry is spelled P-A-R-R-Y. 
March 21, 2019
Hagridden is an adjective that means tormented by anxiety or stress.  From Old Norse, the word hexe (HECKS uh) means witch. It’s also a distant cousin of the word ‘hag.’ Combine this with ridden and you get an adjective — hagridden — that means tormented by stress or anxiety, as if haunted by a witch.  Doris was hagridden by all the paperwork needed to make the new sale. She felt like a trail of paper was haunting her every step.  Hagridden is spelled H-A-G-R-I-D-D-E-N. 
March 20, 2019
Anodyne is a noun that means something that relieves distress or pain.  The Greek word adodunos (ah no DOO noss) meaning ‘free from pain’ morphed over time, into anodyne, something that relieves stress or pain. It may refer literally to a medicine of some kind or more figuratively, to something that is a source of relaxation.  At first, Marnie found the Crickets outside to be an annoyance. But in time, she found them to be an anodyne after a stressful day at work. Once again, anodyne is spelled A-N-O-D-Y-N-E. 
March 19, 2019
Paramnesia is a noun that means a confusion of fact and fantasy.  Paramnesia is a combination of a Greek word you’re probably already familiar with — Amnesia, meaning ‘loss of memory’ and the prefix ‘para’ which can mean a number of things depending on its context. In this case it means ‘against’ as in ‘against reality.’ Think of the word paranormal as a paramnesia’s second cousin.  After that weird dream I had last night, I woke up with a weird case of paramnesia. I wasn’t sure if I had actually been chased by a dragon the night before or if that was part of my dream. Paramnesia is spelled P-A-R-A-M-N-E-S-I-A. 
March 18, 2019
"Alexa, open Volley FM" Today’s word of the day is mondegreen. It’s spelled M-O-N-D-E-G-R-E-E-N.  Mondegreen is a noun that means a misheard or misunderstood phrase.  The word mondegreen was born with a 17th century poem called ‘The Bonnie Earl o’ Moray.’ It contains two lines that read: They have slain the Earl o’ Moray And Lady Mondegreen. When the last line was mistakenly heard as ‘And laid him on the green’ our word of the day came to life. Today, a ‘mondegreen refers to any phrase or song lyric that is mistaken for something else.  My favorite mondegreen is contained in the song Purple Haze. For years, I thought Jimi Hendrix was saying ‘Excuse me while I kiss this guy,’ when he was really saying ‘excuse me while I kiss the sky.’  .Mondegreen is spelled M-O-N-D-E-G-R-E-E-N. 
March 17, 2019
"Alexa, open Volley FM" Today’s word of the day is comportment, C-O-M-P-O-R-T-M-E-N-T. Comportment is a noun that means carriage or bearing. Our word of the day comes directly from the French. It means something similar to — but not exactly the same as behavior. Behavior is all about what you do, but comportment is a more subtle concept that refers to the way you carry yourself.  The most recent time he saw his nephew’s punk rock band, Max as able to keep his behavior in check. But there was something about his comportment that suggested he wasn’t happy to be there.  Comportment is spelled C-O-M-P-O-R-T-M-E-N-T. 
March 16, 2019
"Alexa, open Volley FM" Today’s word of the day is treacle. It’s spelled T-R-E-A-C-L-E. Treacle is a noun that means sentimentality or flattery. The Latin word Theriaca (TER ee ah ca) referred to an antidote or cure, and as time went on, the word’s meaning shifted to refer to a thick, sugary liquid. When used to describe a work of art, it’s pretty much never meant as a compliment.  Falling in love was the worst thing that could happen to our band’s songwriter. Now everything he writes is pure treacle.  Once again, the spelling of treacle is T-R-E-A-C-L-E. 
March 15, 2019
"Alexa, open Volley FM" Today’s word of the day is valorous, V-A-L-O-R-O-U-S. Valorous is an adjective that means brave.  The Latin word valor (val OR) means ‘to be strong.’ From that we get our word of the day. But be warned, this is a word that historically referred to warriors in battle. It’s not to be used lightly. I laughed when I heard Richard describe himself as valorous. It seems to me that taking on a stray cat doesn’t require that much bravery.  Valorous is spelled V-A-L-O-R-O-U-S. 
March 14, 2019
Today’s word of the day is rutilant (ROO ti lant)  R-U-T-I-L-A-N-T. Rutilant is an adjective than means glowing or glittering.  Rutilus (ROO tee loose) is Latin for ‘reddish.’ Something described as rutilant is usually a glowing reddish color, for example: the campfire gives off a rutilant glare at night. That reddish tint against the pitch black sky is just stunning. Once again, rutilant is spelled R-U-T-I-L-A-N-T. 
March 13, 2019
Today’s word of the day is polychromatic, P-O-L-Y-C-H-R-O-M-A-T-I-C. Polychromatic is an adjective that means multicolored.  The Greek word polykhromos (poe lee CRO mose) combines the words for ‘many’ and ‘colors.’ Rhonda’s new polychromatic hairstyle caught me off-guard. She always seemed too conservative for something like that. Polychromatic is spelled P-O-L-Y-C-H-R-O-M-A-T-I-C. 
March 12, 2019
Today’s word of the day is voluptuary, V-O-L-U-P-T-U-A-R-Y. Voluptuary is a noun that refers to a person devoted to a life of luxury and pleasure.  The Latin word voluptus (vo LOOP toos) means ‘pleasure.’ From that we get voluptuary, a person who is deeply devoted to pleasure. After winning the lottery, Erica became something of a voluptuary. Her entire life seems to revolve around bathing herself in luxury.  Once again, voluptuary is spelled V-O-L-U-P-T-U-A-R-Y. 
March 11, 2019
Today’s word of the day is rococo, R-O-C-O-C-O. Rococo is an adjective that means ornate.  Coming from the Latin word roca (RO ca) meaning ‘stone,’ rococo originally referred to a specific style of architecture. People would later use the word to describe musical passages or writing that was elaborate or ornate. It may also be used to describe more mundane things, such as: Alan’s doodling is always very rococo. It looks like seventeenth century art.  Rococo is spelled R-O-C-O-C-O. 
March 10, 2019
Today’s word of the day is estival, E-S-T-I-V-A-L. Estival is an adjective that means belonging to or pertaining to summer.  Don’t be fooled by our word of the day’s similarity to ‘festival.’ Estival, although closely related to festival, actual derives from The Latin word aestivalis (ah ESS ti val ees) which means ‘heat’ or ‘summer.’  Donna takes an estival road trip once a year. She’s deeply infatuated with the New Hampshire countryside in July. Once again, estival is spelled E-S-T-I-V-A-L. 
March 9, 2019
Today’s word of the day is shivoo (SHI voo) S-H-I-V-O-O. Shivoo is a noun that means a party or celebration.  Shivoo is an old 19th century word of unknown origin. Its best used describe an informal gathering. If you’re wearing a tuxedo to go there, it’s not a shivoo.  Andy, can I borrow those funky sunglasses of yours? I bet they’ll be a big hit at tonight’s shivoo.  Shivoo is spelled S-H-I-V-O-O. 
March 8, 2019
Pliskie - #533
Today’s word of the day is Pliskie, P-L-I-S-K-I-E. Pliskie is a noun that means a mischievous trick.  The origin of pliskie is unknown, but we do know it’s commonly used to describe a practical joke of some kind.  I don’t understand why Corey was so upset with out little Pliskie. Maybe he’s just one of those guys who can’t take a joke.  Once again, Pliskie is spelled P-L-I-S-K-Y.
March 7, 2019
Fusty - #532
Today’s word of the day is fusty, F-U-S-T-Y. Fusty is an adjective than means old-fashioned or out-of-date. Fusty comes from an Old French word Fuste (fyoost) which meant “smelling of the cask.” A cask was a wooden case that would decay over time. Today Fusty can be used literally to mean something that smells stale. Or it can be used metaphorically to mean something that is old-fashioned.  You’re not really going to wear those fusty old bell-bottoms in public, are you, dad? It’s been decades since they’ve been in style.  Fusy is spelled F-U-S-T-Y. 
March 6, 2019
Dekko - #531
Today’s word of the day is dekko, D-E-K-K-O. Dekko is a noun that means a quick look or glance.  Dekko has its origin in the Hindi word, Dekho (DE ko) that means ‘a look.’ It’s an informal word best used in contexts like: After quick dekko around, I decided that Sammy’s Burgers would be a nice place to get some food. I could tell right away, it was clean and quiet. The spelling of dekko is D-E-K-K-O.
March 5, 2019
Funambulism - #530
Today's word of the day is funambulism, F-U-N-A-M-B-U-L-I-S-M. Funambulism is a noun that means tightrope walking or a display of mental agility. Tightrope walking was a highly popular spectacle in ancient Rome. So it's no surprise that the language generally spoken by the Romans, Latin, would give us the word for this act of daring. Funis (FOO nis) is Latin for rope, and ambulare (am byoo LAHR ay) means walk. Funambulism may literally refer to the act of tightrope walking or it may be metaphorically used to indicate a feat of mental gymnastics that could be just as tricky, such as: When George was caught sleeping in history class, I wanted to see him talk his way out of a trip to detention. Sure enough he dazzled us all with an act of funambulism by convincing Mrs. Sharpe that he'd been up all night caring for his sick grandmother. Once again, funambulism is spelled F-U-N-A-M-B-U-L-I-S-M. 
March 4, 2019
Supererogation - #529
Today's word of the day is supererogation. It's spelled S-U-P-E-R-E-R-O-G-A-T-I-O-N. Supererogation is a noun that means the act of performing more than is required. The Latin prefix 'super' means 'over and above,' but the second section of our word of the day is a little more complicated. Erogare (air oh GAHR ay) also Latin, originally meant 'to expand public funds after asking the consent of the people.'  Later the word took on on a religious meaning, and came to be referred to as the doing of good deeds beyond what is needed for salvation.  More recently, supererogation's meaning has expanded further still, and is now used to refer to any act performed beyond obligation. Connie has been an outstanding employee. Her staying late last night was an act of supererogation. Once again, supererogation is spelled S-U-P-E-R-E-R-O-G-A-T-I-O-N. 
March 3, 2019
Numinous - #528
Today's word of the day is numinous, N-U-M-I-N-O-U-S. Numinous is an adjective that means supernatural or mysterious. The Latin word numen (NOO men) for 'divine will' got things started, but the word numinous picked up steam in the seventeenth century, broadening to mean anything mysterious. Something doesn't have to actually come from the heavens above to be described as numinous, it only has to seem as though it had. My daughter's skill at painting is nothing short of numinous. It looks as if her paintbrush was guided by forces from above. Numinous is spelled N-U-M-I-N-O-U-S. 
March 2, 2019
Vermicular - #527
Today's word of the day is vermicular. It's spelled V-E-R-M-I-C-U-L-A-R. Vermicular is an adjective that means resembling a worm. If you look closely you'll find a worm hidden in today's word of the day. The root word is the Latin vermis (VER mis) which simply ‘means’ worm and over the years, those first four letters evolved into worm, which may make it easier to recall vermicular's meaning. The dancing these kids do today tends to puzzle grandpa. Those strange, vermicular motions make him long for the days of Fred Astaire. Once again, vermicular is spelled V-E-R-M-I-C-U-L-A-R.
March 1, 2019
Comity - #526
Today's word of the day is comity, C-O-M-I-T-Y. Comity is a noun that means Friendly civility. Coming from the Latin word Comitus (KAAM uh tus) meaning courteousness, comity is often used in a formal settings and may sound out of place if used casually. So instead of: my son and daughter have found a comity between them, you might say: after a contentious, ugly election, the candidates have settled into a welcome comity. Once again, comity is spelled C-O-M-I-T-Y. 
February 28, 2019
Alterity - #525
Today's word of the day is alterity. It's spelled A-L-T-E-R-I-T-Y. Alterity is a noun that means otherness. The Latin word alter (AHL ter) means the other and it has given us such words and phrases as alternative and alter ego. Alterity refers to the state of being something else, usually something alien or unusual.  Rob's red dreadlocks increased the sense of alterity when he worked on Wall Street. His strange haircut made him even more of an outsider. The spelling of alterity is A-L-T-E-R-I-T-Y. 
February 27, 2019
Sylvan - #524
Today's word of the day is sylvan, S-Y-L-V-A-N. Sylvan is an adjective that means located in the woods or Forrest. A sylvan creature is one that lurks in the forrest. If you're familiar with Greek mythology you may think of the Greek god pan as such a being. And it is no coincidence that the Roman equivalent of Pan is named Sylvanus. The forrest has always made James uneasy. He's put off by the thought of all those sylvan critters lurking in the bushes and weeds. Once again, sylvan is spelled S-Y-L-V-A-N.
February 26, 2019
Ululate - #523
Today's word of the day is ululate. It's spelled U-L-U-L-A-T-E. Ululate is a verb that means to howl or wail.  It's very likely that the sound of wailing birds inspired the origin of the Latin word ululare (oo loo LAHR ay) which, of course, means, to wail. Ululate can also apply to humans, but it's best to use it when describing humans making an animal-like wail.  When I heard Maria's stunning singing voice emerge from the basement, I mistook her for an owl. That's how beautiful it sounds when she ululates.  Ululate is spelled U-L-U-L-A-T-E. 
February 25, 2019
Pungle - #522
Today’s word of the day is pungle. P-U-N-G-L-E. Pungle is a verb that means to make a payment or contribution of money. Derived from the Spanish word pongale (pon GAHL ay) pungle emerged in the mid nineteenth century in the American West. It's frequently used in an informal context combined with the word 'up.' For example: The five of us were starving after a night of poker and we thought about cooking something. Instead we decided to pungle up for a pizza. The spelling of pungle is P-U-N-G-L-E.
February 24, 2019
Psephology - #521
Today’s Word of the day is Psephology. It’s spelled P-S-E-P-H-O-L -O-G-Y. Psephology ia a noun that means the scientific study of elections.  The Greeks gave us the word psephos (SEE fos) which means pebbles. Why pebbles? Because tiny rocks were used to count votes in Ancient Greece. And you probably recognize the 'ology' part of the word as a suffix that means we're referring to a body of knowledge. Her background in psephology gave Allie an edge in the election. Knowing so much about what drives voters meant she could understand how to please them. Once again, psephology is spelled P–S–E-P-H-O-L-O-GY.
February 23, 2019
Supercilious - #520
Today's word of the day is supercilious, S-U-P-E-R-C-I-L-I-O-U-S. Supercilious is an adjective that means behaving as if one thinks one is superior to others.  Super is often used as a word or prefix in a way that is admirable or positive. But supercilious reminds us that 'super' a prefix of Ancient Greek descent that simply means 'above,' can be negative or positive depending on its context. In this case it combines with the Latin word for eyebrow in a way that gives us supercilious, which means arrogant. If eyebrow seems like a strange word to get us there, keep in mind the phrase 'high brow,' which is often used as a synonym of conceited or haughty. We all enjoyed Ron's donation's to our charity. But there's no denying that he can get a little supercilious from time to time. The spelling of supercilious is S-U-P-E-R-C-I-L-I-O-US. 
February 22, 2019
Uxorial - #519
Today's word of the day is uxorial. It's spelled U-X-O-R-I-A-L. Uxorial is an adjective that means related to the characteristics of a wife. The Latin word for wife is uxor (OOK sor). While the word can be used in any context that refers to a wife, it is probably most appropriate to use this old world sounding word in an old world context, such as:  Linda didn't enjoy her marriage to George. She found that being married to an older man meant living up to old-fashioned uxorial standards. Once again, uxorial is spelled U-X-O-R-I-A-L.
February 21, 2019
Jocund - #518
Today's word of the day is jocund, J-O-C-U-N-D. Jocund is an adjective that means marked by high spirits. A good way to remember the meaning of jocund is to recall that the word is a distant relative of the word joke. Both are derived from iokus (YO coos) a Latin word that eventually meant 'agreeable.' I was worried about how Jeff would feel after the bad news. But it was nice to see him back in a jocund state of mind again. Once again the spelling of jocund is J-O-C-U-N-D. 
February 20, 2019
Manumit - #517
Today's word of the day manumit. It's spelled M-A-N-U-M-I-T. Manumit is a verb that means to release from slavery. The origin of manumit comes from two Latin words. There's manu (MAH noo) and (ay MEET tay ray). Together they mean 'send out from one's hand.'  In school we studied the history of a slave who bore his shackles with great patience. He hoped someday that his master would manumit him from captivity and eventually he did. Manumit is spelled M-A-N-U-M-I-T. 
February 19, 2019
Carrefour - #516
Today's word of the day is carrefour, C-A-R-R-E-F-O-U-R. Carrefour is a noun that refers to a crossroads or a plaza. The key to grasping carrefour's meaning and proper use is in the word 'four.' But it's not what you think. The Latin word for four is quattuor. (KWAT to wahr), which has, over the years evolved into the C-A-R-R-E of carrefour. An easy way to remember this is to recall that a quarter of something is one fourth. Think a quarter as a fourth of a dollar or an American football game as having four quarters.  The second half of carrefour, F-O-U-R, strangely enough, has nothing to do with the number four. Is is derived from furkus (FOOR koos) the Latin word for fork. So a carrefour is a crossroads, or a meeting of four roads. That carrfour across town can be pretty dangerous. Having cars racing toward each other from four different directions is just courting an accident. Once again carrefour is spelled C-A-R-R-E-F-O-U-R. 
February 18, 2019
Plenary - #515
Today's word of the day is plenary. It's spelled P-L-E-N-A-R-Y. Plenary is an adjective that means complete in every aspect. Derived from the Latin word plenus (PLEE noos) meaning 'full,' plenary is frequently used to describe something such as a concert or a classroom, as 'fully attended.'  For example: The orchestra was excited by the audience turnout. It was the first plenary concert they'd performed in years. Once again, plenary is spelled P-L-E-N-A-R-Y.
February 17, 2019
Cupidity - #514
Today's word of the day is cupidity, C-U-P-I-D-I-T-Y. Cupidity is a noun that means an inordinate desire for wealth.  There's a good chance that you spotted Cupid, the Roman god of love in the word cupidity. But don't let that confuse you. Another way to understand the Roman god's domain is that he was the god of desire, which would include a desire of wealth. An excessive amount of this desire is considered greed, in other words cupidity.  Charles allowed his cupidity to get him into lots of trouble. Last week he was arrested for embezzling five million dollars. The spelling of cupidity is C-U-P-I-D-I-T-Y. 
February 16, 2019
Domiciliary - #513
Today's word of the day is domiciliary. It's spelled D-O-M-I-C-I-L-I-A-R-Y. Domiciliary  is an adjective that means related to or taking place in the home. You may recognize the word domicile in domiciliary. It comes from the Latin word domus (DOME oos) which later gave us words like domestic. Domiciliary may be used to describe anything that applies to the home.  Rex couldn't attend the meeting because he had a domiciliary crisis on his hands. His plumbing had backed up, causing his kitchen floor to be flooded. Once again, domiciliary is spelled D-O-M-I-C-I-L-I-A-R-Y. 
February 15, 2019
Aggrandize - #512
Today's word of the day is aggrandize, A-G-G-R-A-N-D-I-Z-E. Aggrandize  is a verb that means to enlarge. Recognizing the word 'grand' in aggrandize is the key to understanding its meaning. coming from the French word agrandir (ah grahn DEER) meaning 'to enlarge' it simply means to make something bigger.  But aggrandize isn't a word to throw around lightly. It should be used to describe giant, important things. You wouldn't ask the cashier to aggrandize your serving of french fries, but you might say: The result of this war is that it will aggrandize our nation on the world's stage. We will become an unstoppable global power. The spelling of aggrandize is A-G-G-R-A-N-D-I-Z-E. 
February 15, 2019
Scintilla - #511
Today's word of the day is Scintilla. It's spelled S-C-I-N-T-I-L-L-A. Scintilla is a noun that means a brief spark. Scintilla is a direct descendant of the the Latin word for spark, scintilla (skeen TEEL ah). But over the years, its meaning has shifted and scintilla can now refer literally to an actual spark or metaphorically to a brief, exciting moment in time, for example: Hearing the announcer read off the winning lottery numbers gave me a scintilla of hope. But in the end, the numbers weren't mine and the hope disappeared.  Once again, scintilla is spelled S-C-I-N-T-I-L-L-A. 
February 13, 2019
Saporific - #510
Today’s word of the day is saporific, S-A-P-O-R-I-F-I-C. Saporific is an adjective that means having the power to produce the sensation of taste. Sapor (SAP or) is the Latin word for ‘taste,’ while facare (fas SARE ay) gives us ‘make.’ Together we get soporific, which simply refers to the ability to create taste. A broad term, saporific doesn’t necessarily refer to something that tastes good.  At first, the rice tasted pretty bland. It didn’t become truly saporific until we added paprika. Once again, soporific is spelled S-A-P-O-R-I-F-I-C. 
February 12, 2019
Thrasonical - #509
Today’s word of the day is thrasonical. It’s spelled T-H-R-A-S-O-N-I-C-A-L. Thrasonical is an adjective that means boastful or vainglorious. An Ancient Greek comedic play called Eunuchus (YOU nee cuss) featured a character whose name is the origin of our word of the day. Thraso was a boastful soldier in the play. These days a person didn’t need to be a soldier to earn the unflattering term. They just have to behave in a braggadocious, vainglorious fashion.  My co-workers have criticized me for my thrasonical behavior, and I can understand why. I suppose it isn’t necessary to wear my military medals into the office every day. Once again the spelling of trasonical is T-H-R-A-S-O-N-I-C-A-L. 
February 11, 2019
Transmogrify - #508
Today’s word of the day is transmogrify, T-R-A-N-S-M-O-G-R-I-F-Y. Transmogrify is a verb that means to completely alter the form of. The precise origin of transmogrify is unclear, but there seems to be a similarity with words like transmigrate and transform. The key is to understand that transmogrify doesn’t just mean ‘change.’ It should be used to describe something more complete than, say, changing your hair or your living room furniture.  Scientists estimate that future generations will be able to transmogrify their bodily form with surgery. That sounds great to those who’d like to spend life as a turtle. The spelling of transmogrify is T-R-A-N-S-M-O-G-R-I-F-Y.
February 10, 2019
Coxcomb - #507
Today’s word of the day is coxcomb. It’s spelled C-O-X-C-O-M-B. Coxcomb is a noun that means a foolish or conceited man. This word of Middle English descent refers to the comb on top of a rooster’s head. And just as we often think of a rooster as strutting around arrogantly, a coxcomb is one — usually a male — who behaves in a conceited way.  I like James, but he can be something of a coxcomb at times. Being in a large group usually triggers his sense of arrogance and stupidity. Once again, coxcomb is spelled C-O-X-C-O-M-B. 
February 9, 2019
Commodious - #506
Today’s word of the day is commodious, C-O-M-M-O-D-I-O-U-S. Commodious is an adjective that means roomy and spacious.  The Latin word Commodus (COM oh doos) means ‘useful’ and, true to its definition, it has been very useful at producing important English words. The word accommodating might be a helpful way to understand the best use of our word of the day. After years of living in tiny, cramped apartments, I love this spacious house we now reside in. It is so much more commodious than any place I’ve ever lived. Once again, commodious is spelled C-O-M-M-O-D-I-O-U-S. 
February 8, 2019
Volitant - #505
Today’s word of the day is volitant. It’s spelled V-O-L-I-T-A-N-T. Volitant is an adjective that means having the power of flight. Believe it or not, a word that describes a creature’s ability to fly is related to the word volatile. They both come from the Latin volito (VALL ee toe) meaning ‘to rush back and forth’ or ‘hurry.’ But a bird that is volitant is not necessarily in a bad mood. It simply has the ability to fly.  Chasing down that chicken was a tough task. But it might have been even tougher had the bird been volitant. Volitant is spelled V-O-L-I-T-A-N-T. 
February 7, 2019
Resplendent - #504
Today’s word of the day is resplendent, R-E-S-P-L-E-N-D-E-N-T. Resplendent is an adjective that means shiny and colorful; pleasing to the eye. The Latin splendere (splen DARE ay) means to shine. It’s related to many words like splendid, splendor and, of course, our word of the day, resplendent. It means pleasing to the eye, but more specifically it refers to something that pleases the eye because of its bright, brilliant colors.  That bird’s multicolored plumage had me spellbound. I’d never anything more resplendent in my life. Once again, resplendent is spelled R-E-S-P-L-E-N-D-E-N-T. 
February 6, 2019
Eudemonic - #504
February 5, 2019