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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s word of the day is matutinal, M-A-T-U-T-I-N-A-L. Matutinal is an adjective that means related to or occurring in the early morning.
Matuta (Ma TOO ta) is the Roman Goddess of Dawn. Her name derives from Latin and she gave birth to our word of the day.
The scheduling was probably my least favorite thing about my life as a Marine. Being a night owl, I had a real problem with those matutinal duties.
Matutinal is spelled M-A-T-U-T-I-N-A-L.
Today’s word of the day is autoschediasm. It’s spelled A-U-T-O-S-C-H-E-D-I-A-S-M. Autoschediasm is a noun that means anything done with little forethought or preparation.
The Greek word for something done off hand schediasm (ske DIE asm) is where our word of the day came from. The Latins came around later and added the ‘auto,’ but the basic meaning has remained the same. The word ‘improvisation’ is a synonym, but an autoschediasm is not necessarily done by an an actor or professional performer. For example: When her cat slipped from the mantle, Barb quickly reached down and caught him before he hit the ground. This autoschediasm illustrates how fast Barb’s actions are.
Once again, the spelling of autoschediasm is A-U-T-O-S-C-H-E-D-I-A-S-M.
Today’s word of the day is aegis, A-E-G-I-S. Aegis is a noun that means protection.
Although aegis comes directly from Latin, its true origin is in Greek mythology. The word began life as a reference to the shield of Athena. From there, aegis came to refer to a form of protection from a respected mentor.
Under the aegis of the coach, I was allowed to skip a few days of practice. Without the coach’s permission I might have gotten into serious trouble.
Once again, aegis is spelled A-E-G-I-S.
Today’s word of the day is degust. It’s spelled D-E-G-U-S-T. Degust is a verb that means to savor something fully.
The Latin word for taste is degusto (DAY goose toe). But how do we decide when degust is the word we want rather than ‘taste’? When we degust something we savor it completely.
It took nearly forty-five minutes to eat my steak. It was so delicious I wanted to degust every bite.
Once again, degust is spelled D-E-G-U-S-T.
Today’s word of the day is knavery, K-N-A-V-E-R-Y. Knavery is a noun that means a roguish or mischievous act.
If you’re familiar with Shakespeare, you’ve heard many people referred to as a knave. You may have noticed that the word is never intended as a compliment. This word of Middle English descent is a synonym of such unflattering terms as ‘scoundrel’ or ‘rascal.’
As a junior high teacher, I’ve witnessed a great deal of knavery over the years. The worst involved a prank that left my clothes full of ink.
The spelled of knavery is K-N-A-V-E-R-Y.
Today’s word of the day selcouth. It’s spelled S-E-L-C-O-U-T-H. Selcouth is an adjective that means unusual, strange.
Selcouth is derived from an Old English combination of words that meant ‘seldom’ and ‘known.’ So our word of the day can simply mean that something is strange as in unfamiliar or it can refer to something or someone that is downright weird. For example: That jacket Harry wore yesterday was selcouth. I’d never seen him wear anything like that before.
Once again, selcouth is spelled S-E-L-C-O-U-T-H.
Today’s word of the day is pleonasm, P-L-E-O-N-A-S-M. Pleonasm is a noun that means the excessive use of words.
Our word of the day began in Ancient Greece. The word pleonasmós (play on ESS moss) meant “I am superfluous.” Today pleonasm refers to a needlessly wordy use of words.
When my English teacher told me I shouldn’t waste time being verbose and excessive and redundant while writing passages that were much more wordy than necessary, he seemed to be providing exactly the kind of pleonasm he was warning me against using.
Pleonasm is spelled P-L-E-O-N-A-S-M.
Today’s word of the day is sibylline. It’s spelled S-I-B-Y-L-L-I-NE. Sibylline is an adjective that means mysterious.
History buffs may recall a figure known as the Cumaean Sybil, a priestess who presided over the Appollonian oracle at a Greek colony. Her reputedly divine powers have been preserved in Greek and Roman Legend.
The priestesses’ name comes from the Greek Sybilla (SEE bee la) which means prophetess. But a contemporary figure doesn’t need telepathic powers to earn it. Simply being mysterious is enough. Nobody really understood Mindy. She was just this odd sibylline figure in a black cape and a purple wig.
Once again, sibylline is spelled S-I-B-Y-L-L-I-N-E.
Today’s word of the day is adust, A-D-U-S-T. Adust is an adjective that means scorched or burned.
Adustus (AHH doos toos) is the Latin word for scorched. It has traditionally been used in a medical context, but may also be used to describe an item that has been burned. After the fire, our favorite shade tree was adust. It saddened me to see something so lovely reduced to a charred piece of wood.
Adust is spelled A-D-U-S-T.
Today’s word of the day is lucubration. It’s spelled L-U-C-U-B-R-A-T-I-O-N. Lucubration is a noun that means laborious or intensive study.
The Latin word Lucubro (loo COO bro) means ‘to study by lamplight or candle light.’ Although our word of the day’s meaning has broadened since its original definition, the image of someone intently studying in the late night hours is a good one to help understand lucubration’s best usage.
It took weeks of lucubration to devise the perfect plan, but I think we’ve finally gotten it. It feels to great to have such hard work pay off.
Once again, lucubration is spelled L-U-C-U-B-R-A-T-I-O-N.
Today’s word of the day is giant, R-I-A-N-T. Riant is an adjective that means cheerful or happy.
Riant comes directly from France where it means ‘laughing.’ The word happy may refer to a long-term condition as in ‘he lived a happy life’ or it may simply mean laughing or mirthful at a particular time.
Riant is best used to refer to the latter, as in: In spite of her current problems, Shelly seemed pretty riant. It looked as though she was laughing through the pain.
Riant is spelled RIANT.
Today’s word of the day is gallinaceous. It’s spelled G-A-L-L-I-N-A-C-E-O-U-S. Gallinaceous is an adjective that means related to or resembling turkeys, chicken or other domestic fowl.
The Latin word gallina (guh LEE nah) refers to a hen, but gallinaceous may refer to any poultry. The word can be a fun way to describe a person unfortunate enough to resemble a turkey or chicken. For example: That sweater gives Fred a gallinaceous look. Maybe its the low opening that exaggerates the length of his neck.
Once again, the spelling of gallinaceous is G-A-L-L-I-N-A-C-E-O-U-S.
Today's word of the day is etiolate, E-T-I-O-L-A-T-E. Etiolate is a verb that means to drain or make weak.
The French have generously donated the word etiolator (ay tee oh LAY) to our language. it has since undergone renovation to become etiolate. It means 'to make pale.' But to understand our word of the day's proper use, it would help to recall that when something is made pale, it has blood drained from it.
Working at the zoo may be a rewarding job, but it can etiolate you. By the end of the day, you may be exhausted to the point where you never want to see another pelican again.
Once again, the spelling of etiolate is E-T-I-O-L-A-T-E.
Today's word of the day is iconoclast. It's spelled I-C-O-N-O-C-L-A-S-T. Iconoclast is a noun that means a person who attacks settled customs or institutions.
You may you know the icon as referring to an object or person of uncritical devotion. It came from the Ancient Greek eikon (ee KON ahh) to mean a religious symbol or image. With the addition of 'cast,’ we get 'image breaker,' a good metaphor to help us understand our word of the day's meaning.
Salvador Dali is regarded as a great iconoclast of art. His groundbreaking images radically changed everything we thought we knew about painting.
Once again, iconoclast is spelled I-C-O-N-O-C-L-A-S-T.
Today's word of the day is Byzantine, B-Y-Z-A-N-T-I-N-E. Byzantine is an adjective that means elaborate and complex.
Historian recall the Byzantine empire as one riddled with elaborate and complex rules. A Byzantine process is difficult to get through.
I wanted to surprise my employees with a bonus, but the Byzantine administration made things difficult. I had to jump through many hoops to get the raise implemented by Christmas.
Once again, Byzantine is spelled B-Y-Z-A-N-T-I-N-E.
Today's word of the day is lenity. It's spelled L-E-N-I-T-Y. Lenity is a noun that means the state of being mild or gentle.
The Latin word lenitas (lay NEE tas) means mild or gentle, and our word of the day hasn't drifted very far from its ancient origin. To behave with lenity is to be mild or gentle -- especially with someone who hasn't been mild or gentle with you.
After years of enduring insulting behavior from his co-workers, Andy chose a noble path. He had enough lenity in his heart to not terminate those who had insulted him once he was promoted to supervisor.
The spelling of lenity is L-E-N-I-T-Y.
Today's word of the day is sisyphean, S-I-S-Y-P-H-E-A-N. Sisyphean is an adjective that means endless.
The myth of Sisyphus is an ancient Greek tale of a King whose punishment for deceitful behavior was to be forced to roll an giant rock up a hill only to have the rock roll back down the hill, urging him to repeat the act over and over again for all eternity.
When something is described as Sisyphean, that means it is both laborious and futile. For example: Emptying those dumpsters behind the school feels like a Sisyphean task. You empty them week after week, but they just fill up again.
Sisyphean is spelled S-I-S-Y-P-H-E-A-N.
Today's word of the day is eximous. It's spelled E-X-I-M-I-O-U-S. Eximious is an adjective that means distinguished.
The Latin word eximius (ex EEM ee oos) means 'set apart' or 'select.' As you might guess, eximious is not a word to toss around casually. You wouldn't refer to an eximious toothpaste or bus boy, but a more respected item or position could possibly earn the word. For example: Our professor is regarded as one of the nations eximous Latin scholars. His word is respected by millions.
The spelling of eximous is E-X-I-M-I-O-U-S.
Today's word of the day is burble, B-U-R-B-L-E. Burble is a verb that means to speak in an excited manner.
The Middle English word for bubble is burblen. From there our word of the day was born. It is best used to describe someone whose excited speech has rendered their words crazy and unintelligible.
When my nine-year-old saw the puppy she wanted, she started to burble with joy. The only word I could discern was 'please.'
Once again burble is spelled B-U-R-B-L-E.
Today's word of the day is beamish. It's spelled B-E-A-M-I-S-H. Beamish is an adjective that means bright with optimism.
Coming from the English word beam, which may refer to a ray or light or the act of smiling, beamish is an upbeat word that describes being bright and hopeful.
I have a good feeling about our softball game Sunday. Our team has been in a beamish mood that makes a victory seem inevitable.
Beamish is spelled B-E-A-M-I-S-H.
Today's word of the day is agrapha, A-G-R-A-P-H-A. Agrapha is a noun that means famous sayings that are falsely attributed.
A word borrowed from Greek that referred to sayings of Jesus not in the canonical gospels but found in other New testament or early Christian writings, has, in recent years, been used more broadly. Now agrapha may refer to any quote or saying that is falsely attributed to someone.
Baseball great Yogi Berra once said, 'I never said half the things I said.' In other words he was dismissing many sayings attributed to him as agrapha.
The spelling of agrapha is A-G-R-A-P-H-A.
Today's word of the day is garboil. It's spelled G-A-R-B-O-I-L. Garboil is a noun that means a confused or disordered state.
The Latin word bullire (boo LEE ray) means to boil or liquify. The image of a boiling pot of water perfectly captures the kind of chaos people must have had in mind when they understood the word garboil to mean a confused or disordered state.
Tammy did a great job of managing the office. As soon as she left, the office became a non-stop garboil.
Once again, garboil is spelled G-A-R-B-O-I-L.
Today's word of the day is agog. It's spelled A-G-O-G. Agog is an adjective that means full of interest or excitement.
The origin of agog seems to be the French phrase en gogues (en GOG) which means in good humor. But agog's meaning has shifted a little over the years. A person may be agog -- meaning full of interest or excitement -- without necessarily being in a good mood.
For example: When our supervisor announced there were big changes ahead for the company, everybody was agog for days. We were relieved to learn the changes he had in mind involved replacing the office furniture.
The spelling of agog is A-G-O-G.
Today's word of the day is legerity, L-E-G-E-R-I-T-Y. Legerity is a noun that means alert quickness of mind and body.
The Latin word Levis (LEV ees) means light, as in 'light on your feet.' This is a good way to think of legerity. As a younger man, the prizefighter was praised for his legerity. But these days he just plods around the ring, waiting to get repeatedly jabbed.
Once again, legerity is spelled L-E-G-E-R-I-T-Y.
Today's word of the day is instantiate. It's spelled I-N-S-T-A-N-T-I-A-T-E. Instantiate is a verb that means to represent by a concrete example.
Instantiate is derived from a the Latin word Instantia (een sta TEE uh) which means counterexample. Centuries later, the offspring of instantia has come to mean 'to represent by a concrete example.'
The damage to our jeep came to instantiate the troubles we had crossing the jungle. That giant dent in the hood was an example of how tough the journey was.
The spelling of instantiate is I-N-S-T-A-N-T-I-A-T-E.
Today's word of the day is crocodilian, C-R-O-C-O-D-I-L-I-A-N. Crocodilian is an adjective that means hypocritical or insincere.
If you recognize the word crocodile in our word of the day, you can probably guess that crocodilian means 'related to or like a crocodile.' But a less common use of the word is as a synonym of hypocritical or insincere. Anyone who's seen a crocodile patiently hide in water to trap a prey can easily understand this use of crododilian.
Brett's crocodilian nature was revealed soon after he learned of Laura's fortune. Once the money was available, he abandoned any disguise of docility.
Crocodilian is spelled C-R-O-C-O-D-I-L-I-A-N.
Today's word of the day is esperance. It's spelled E-S-P-E-R-A-N-C-E. Esperance is a noun that means hope or expectation.
The French word esperance (es pair AHHNS) is the ancestor of our word of the day. It's a more formal word for 'hope' or 'expect' and it is usually best used in a poetic or literary context. The evening was still young. But all esperance of hearing from my friend again had abandoned me.
Once again, esperance is spelled E-S-P-E-R-A-N-C-E.
Today's word of the day is flackery, F-L-A-C-K-E-R-Y. Flackery is a noun that means promotion or publicity.
The exact origin of flack, meaning 'a press agent' or 'one who provides publicity,' is unknown. But the rumor mill suggests the it comes from a well-known movie publicist of the 1930s named Gene Flack. True or not, the story illustrates the kind of person who would engage in what would be called flackery. It may refer to show business or other things not taken very seriously.
My career as a professional wrestler never quite got off the ground. My problem is I never had the right flackery to put my name in the limelight.
Once again, the spelling of flackery is F-L-A-C-K-E-R-Y.
Today's word of the day is oscitant. It's spelled O-S-C-I-T-A-N-T. Oscitant is an adjective that means drowsy.
Coming directly from the Latin word Oscitans (Oh ski TAN) which means sluggish, oscitant can be used to describe the state of being sleepy or lazy. Professor Brooks took a nap while the students watched a film. This was unusual behavior for the professor, but he'd never been so oscitant in class before.
Once again, the spelling of oscitant is O-S-C-I-T-A-N-T.
Today's word of the day is vespertine. It's spelled V-E-S-P-E-R-T-I-N-E. Vespertine is an adjective that means happening in the evening.
Vespertinus (ves pair TEEN oos) the Latin word for evening is where our word of the day began its life. vespertine is a synonym of words like nightly and overnight, but it's best to dust this word off for formal occasions, such as, the good lady's presence was requested for vespertine activities that summer. She accepted the invitations, but never for anything past eight.
Once again, the spelling of verspertine is V-E-S-P-E-R-T-I-N-E.
Today's word of the day is catholicon, C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C-O-N. Catholicon is a noun that means a panacea or cure-all.
Although our word of the day has nothing to do with religion, it has a connection with Catholicism. Both catholicon and catholic derive from the Greek word Katholikos (kath oh lee KO) which means universal, general. In the case of catholicon, it refers to a universal cure for a condition.
The medical world has made great strides in its fight against arthritis, but we may be decades away from a catholicon that would eliminate all forms of the ailment.
Catholicon is spelled C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C-O-N.
Today’s word of the day is adscititious. It’s spelled A-D-S-C-I-T-I-T-I-O-U-S. Adscititious means coming from the outside.
Adscititious is derived from the Latin word adscsicere (ad she SHERE ray) which means ‘to admit’ or ‘to adopt.’ Adscititious is a good word to use when describing the process of adopting something from the outside, for example: the maintenance man needed adscititious equipment to handle the problem. He simply didn’t have the necessary tools with him.
Adscititious is spelled A-D-S-C-I-T-I-T-I-O-U-S.
Today’s word of the day is dulcet, D-U-L-C-E-T. Dulcet is an adjective that means pleasing to taste or hear.
Our word of the day is a versatile one that may be used in a wide range of contexts. Dulcet comes from the Latin Dulcis (DOOL chees) that simply means sweet, pleasant or agreeable. Although it may refer to any of the five senses, the two most commonly cited are taste and sound.
After a hard day of work at the factory, Andy had an unusual way to unwind. He’d lay in his backyard and savor the dulcet tones of crickets chirping.
Once again, the spelling of dulcet is D-U-L-C-E-T.
Today’s word of the day is perquisite. It’s spelled P-E-R-Q-U-I-S-I-T-E. Perquisite is a noun that means a privilege or profit made in addition to regular pay.
The Latin verb quarere (KWA were ay)which means ‘to ask’ has given birth to many commonly used words. Among them, are inquire, inquiry, query and quest. The best way to understand perquisite’s use is to recall that the word perk is a shortened variation of it.
Being a flight attendant can be hard work with long hours. Jan, however had no complaints about it because she simply adored the job’s perquisites.
The spelling of perquisite is P-E-R-Q-U-I-S-I-T-E.
Today’s word of the day is raillery, R-A-I-L-L-E-R-Y. Raillery is a noun that means good natured ridicule.
You may have noticed the word rail embedded in our word of the day. The two words do share a common ancestor in the Latin word ragere (rah GER ay). But when used to describe a conversation the two words differ a great deal in tone. Rail means to revile or scold in harsh or abusive language. Raillery, on the other hand, in a softer more playful word.
After two weeks off, I began to miss my co-workers. I don’t know how I made it through the day without my daily supply of banter and raillery.
Once again, raillery is spelled R-A-I-L-L-E-R-Y.
Today’s word of the day is emblazon. It’s spelled E-M-B-L-A-Z-O-N. Emblazon is a verb that means to celebrate or extol.
Emblazon got its start with the Anglo-French word blazon (BLAY son) which referred to a heraldic coat of arms, something intended to celebrate a history of nobility. These days, when we emblazon something, we can do it with words.
It is rare that film lovers emblazon a first-time director with such high praise. But Michael’s film is worthy of every adoring word.
Emblazon is spelled E-M-B-L-A-Z-O-N.
Today’s word of the day is impute, I-M-P-U-T-E. Impute is a verb that means to lay the responsibility or blame for.
The latin word imputo (eem POO toe) means to lay to a charge. Impute is similar to words like ascribe and attribute, but it is typically used in different contexts. You can attribute or ascribe a successful venture to someone, but you wouldn’t impute it. Our word of the day is saved for accusations that would discredit a person, for example: the mayor held a press convince to deny his involvement in the incident. He insisted that his opponent’s attempts to impute him were nothing more than mudslinging.
Once again, impute is spelled I-M-P-U-T-E.
Today’s word of the day is trammel, T-R-A-M-M-E-L Trammel is a verb that means to restraint freedom.
The Latin word for three, trēs (tray ss) may seem like an unusual origin for trammel, but keep in mind that a trammel is the name of a fishing net with three layers. It could be helpful to think of a net when using the word to mean a restraint on freedom.
My son was upset when I didn’t allow him to drive to San Diego for the concert. He felt I was trying to trammel his freedom.
Trammel is spelled T-R-A-M-M-E-L.
Today’s word of the day is lachrymose. It’s spelled L-A-C-H-R-Y-M-O-S-E. Lachrymose is an adjective that means tending to cause tears.
Our word of the day has its origin in lacrima (LAA Cree ma) the Latin word for tear. Lachrymose may refer to someone or something that sheds tears or causes them in others, but let’s be clear that we’re referring here to tears of sadness — not joy.
My sister is a sucker for those lachrymose soap operas. With all those deaths, heartbreaks and unrequited loves, she is always in tears by the end of each episode.
Once again, the spelling of lachrymose is L-A-C-H-R-Y-M-O-S-E.
Today’s word of the day is sublimate, S-U-B-L-I-M-A-T-E Sublimate is a verb that means to direct the expression of a desire or an impulse to a more socially acceptable one.
When a person sublimates a base impulse for something more acceptable, you could say they are elevating their decorum. So it makes sense that the Latin word sublimis (soo BLEE mees) means elevated or lofty.
Mr. Ross can really be annoying with his elaborate lunch demands. So I usually sublimate my desire to throw his salad all over his suit into finishing his order as quickly as possible.
Sublimate is spelled S-U-B-L-I-M-A-T-E.
Today’s word of the day is Aesopian. It’s spelled A-E-S-O-P-I-A-N. Aesopian is an adjective that means conveying an innocent meaning to an outsider but a hidden meaning to others.
Aesop’s fables are well known for containing a hidden meaning or moral beneath their innocuous surface. An Aesopian statement contains a similarly hidden message.
When Julie told me and the kids to make sure not to forget anything when we came home that afternoon, she was actually delivering an Aesopian message. She was signaling me to make sure I picked up the cake for Aurora’s surprise birthday party.
Once again, Aesopian is spelled A-E-S-O-P-I-A-N.
Today’s word of the day is climacteric. It’s spelled C-L-I-M-A-C-T-E-R-I-C. Climacteric is a noun that means a major turning point.
The word klimakter (KLEE mack ter) comes from Ancient Greek. It’s literal translation is ‘rung on a ladder,’ which may be helpful if you think of that rung as the most important one on the ladder.
My first job interview didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. But looking back, I had reached a climacteric in my life.
Once again, climacteric is spelled C-L-I-M-A-C-T-E-R-I-C.
Today’s word of the day is ruction, R-U-C-T-I-O-N. Ruction is a noun that means a disturbance.
The precise origin of ruction is unclear. It seems to be a shortening of insurrection. But while insurrection is a more specific term that refers to something like a rebellion against an authority, ruction may be used to describe anything from a prison riot to the noise made by a pair of unruly toddlers.
The ruction outside my front door caught my attention immediately. I opened the door to find my cranky grandparents had been accidentally locked out.
Once again, ruction is spelled R-U-C-T-I-O-N.
Today’s word of the day is doughty. It’s spelled D-O-U-G-H-T-Y. Doughty is an adjective that means valiant.
A word of Old English derivation, doughty may sound out of place
If used in a contemporary context. It’s probably best to use it in reference to figures of the past — or perhaps modern day combatants whose bravery seems to belong to days of lore.
My sister stood only five foot three. But when anybody messed with her little brother, they had to face a warrior with a fiercely doughty spirit.
Once again, doughty is spelled D-O-U-G-H-T-Y.
Today’s word of the day is perpend, P-E-R-P-E-N-D. Perpend is a verb that means to ponder.
The Latin word word perpendere (Per PEN dare ay), which means ‘to weigh’ may seem like a strange origin for a word that means ‘to ponder.’ But keep in mind that when pondering something, you are weighing it in your mind. Dad can be very deliberate when choosing a movie to see. He tends to perpend the choices for a while, then he makes a final decision hours later.
The spelling of perpend is P-E-R-P-E-N-D.
Today’s word of the day is megrim. It’s spelled M-E-G-R-I-M. Megrim is a noun that means dizziness or vertigo.
Although it’s often used as a synonym of migraine, megrim is actually a broader term that may refer to dizziness in the head as well as the typical symptoms migraines.
Both migraine and megrim come from the Greek word hermikrania (her me CRAY nee uh) which refer to what English speakers today call a migraine.
That stressful day at work took a toll on me. I left the office with a crippling megrim.
The spelling of megrim is M-E-G-R-I-M.
Today’s word of the day is marginalia, M-A-R-G-I-N-A-L-I-A. Marginalia is a noun that means nonessential items.
You probably recognize the word margin, a word that, when used figuratively, may refer to a line that separates inclusion and exclusion from a group. Think of marginalia as the place someone or something winds up after being marginalized.
President Arthur was a figure of enormous importance. That’s why it pains me to see historians relegate his contributions to marginalia.
Once again, marginalia is spelled M-A-R-G-I-N-A-L-I-A.
Today’s word of the day is pelf. It’s spelled P-E-L-F. Pelf is a noun that means money or riches.
Pelf is derived from the Anglo-French word pelfre (PEL free) which means ‘stolen money.’ The English word pilfer (‘to steal’) is also a descendent of pelfre. Pelf’s definition is simply ‘money’ but the word is usually used in a context that suggest the gains are ill-gotten.
After years of selling bogus watches to tourists, James’ conscience caught up with him. He donated thousands of the pelf to charity.
Once again, pelf is spelled P-E-L-F.
Today’s word of the day is perspicacious, P-E-R-S-P-I-C-A-C-I-O-U-S. Perspicacious is an adjective that means keen or of acute mental vision.
The Latin word perspicere (PAIR spee care ay) got things started with a word that meant ‘to look through’ or ‘to see clearly.’ From here a number of English words were born, including periscope, a device used to help navigate a submarine. It may help to think of a perspicacious person as someone skilled at looking through the surface and seeing things clearly — as they would if gazing through a periscope.
At first, Henry seemed to be paying Jane a friendly visit. But Jane was perspicacious enough to know he was sniffing around for a favor.
Today’s word of the day is homiletic. It’s spelled H-O-M-I-E-T-I-C. Homiletic is an adjective that means related to preaching.
Our word of the day’s journey begins with the Ancient Greek word homilos (HO me los) which meant crowd or assembly. This word later morphed into homily, ‘a short sermon.’ Anything related to a homily may be called homiletic.
Sandy’s pep talk at the meeting got everybody fired up. Not only did she motivate us, but her homiletic language helped us understand the moral guidelines we needed to follow.
Today’s word of the day is predial, P-R-E-D-I-A-L. Predial is an adjective that means related to land or its products.
Derived from the Latin word for estate, Praedium (PRAY dee um), predial is frequently used in a legal context, such as: The records show that Howard has paid millions in predial tax. Such a large estate can be quite expensive.
Once again, predial is spelled P-R-E-D-I-A-L.
Today’s word of the day us Cassandra. It’s spelled C-A-S-S-A-N-D-R-A. Cassandra means one who predicts misfortune.
Understanding the origin of the word Cassandra, requires a quick lesson in Greek mythology. Cassandra was a character who, after rejecting the romantic advances of the god Apollo, was blessed and cursed with the ability to foretell the future, with the catch that her prophecies, although accurate, were never believed.
In more recent years, the word is used to describe those who predict doom – regardless of whether they are believed. Peter is usually an upbeat, optimistic fellow, but his recent financial struggles have turned him into something of a Cassandra. Lately, he’s been predicting the collapse of Wall Street.
Cassandra, once again, is spelled C-A-S-S-A-N-D-R-A.
Today’s word of the day is harbinger, H-A-R-B-I-N-G-E-R. Harbinger is a noun that means one that foreshadows what is about to come.
In Medieval English the word harbinger referred to a person who went ahead of his fellow travelers to find lodging. The word’s meaning has shifted a little since then, but the image of someone moving ahead of the of the pack may still be helpful.
When Julie quit her job at the drugstore out of frustration, she was a harbinger for the workplace. Within a year, nearly everybody else would leave.
Once again, harbinger is spelled H-A-R-B-I-N-G-E-R.
Today’s word of the day is unctuous. It’s spelled U-N-C-T-U-O-U-S. Unctuous is an adjective that means insincerely smooth.
The Latin word for anoint, Unguere (oon GWAY ray) is where unctuous’s journey begins. But a better way to understand the word’s origin is to recall that things were often anointed with oily or greasy substances.
As time went by, unctuous came to mean oily, and it later referred to people who behaved in a slick manner. Think of someone trying to win your favor with false flattery.
The salesman had an unctuous quality to him that made him good at his job. I wound up buying five hundred acres of Florida swampland.
The spelling of unctuous is U-N-C-T-U-O-U-S.
Today’s word of the day is tutelage, T-U-T-E-L-A-G-E. Tutelage is a noun that means guiding influence.
The Latin word tueri (too AIR ee) means to guard. But as often happens to words of ancient origin, its meaning shifted over time, and words derived from tueri came to refer to a teacher or guiding influence. That’s how we get words like tutor and tuition. It’s also how being ‘under someone’s tutelage’ often refers to a teacher of some sort.
After years under Miss Loenstein’s tutelage, I could finally master the basics of concert flute. I couldn’t imagine any other teacher being as helpful.
Once again, tutelage is T-U-T-E-L-A-G-E.
Today’s word of the day is bathetic. It’s spelled B-A-T-H-E-T-I-C. Bathetic means trite or sentimental.
Loosely connected to the similar sounding pathetic, bathetic has its roots in Ancient Greek. Pathos comes from a Greek word meaning ‘evoking pity,’ while bathos originally meant ‘depth,’ which came to mean ‘excessively sentimental.’ A movie character that brings you to tears of sadness is pathetic. A movie character that aims for pathetic but instead brings you to tears of unintended laughter is bathetic.
Marne was never a fan of cheesy romance novels. Those bathetic characters always evoked nothing from her but eye rolls and groans.
Today's word of the day is deportment. It's spelled D-E-P-O-R-T-M-E-N-T. Deportment is a noun that means behavior; the way one conducts oneself.
The French word for 'to carry away,' deporter (day por TAY) gives us the origin of deportment. It also gives us the origin of deport, meaning 'to remove from the country.' This is an example of how a word's origin can branch off to two very different words.
In the case of deportment, 'carry away' refers to the way a person carries themselves, as in your deportment throughout this ordeal has been admirable. You have carried yourself as a true gentlemen.
Once again, deportment is spelled D-E-P-O-R-T-M-E-N-T.
Today's word of the day is blithesome, B-L-I-T-H-E-S-O-M-E. Blithesome is an adjective that means cheerful and happy.
A combination of the Old English word blithe that simply means happy and the suffix 'some' that indicates 'a tendency toward' -- as in wholesome, awesome or bothersome -- gets us to blithesome, a word that, given its Old English origin, usually sounds best when used in an old world context.
The fair maiden remained blithesome all evening. But her mood soon shifted when she learned of her father's cruel fate.
Blithesome is spelled B-L-I-T-H-E-S-O-M-E.
Today's word of the day is nimiety. It's spelled N-I-M-I-E-T-Y. Nimiety is a noun that means an excess or redundancy (of something).
The Latin word for 'excessive' is nimietas (nuh MY uh tus) but don't confuse nimiety for 'excessive' in the pejorative sense, as in, 'I found your speech to be excessive.' Instead think: if you're looking for a snack before dinner, you'll find a nimiety of options in the cabinet. There are more cupcakes in there than you could possibly eat in a lifetime.
Once again, nimiety is spelled N-I-M-I-E-T-Y.
Today’s word of the day is allegiant. Allegiant is an adjective that means faithful or loyal. It’s spelled A-L-L-E-G-I-A-N-T.
Fred is an allegiant employee. He’s been with us for seventeen years takes his duty seriously and has never once been tempted to seek employment elsewhere.
Allegiant, dear listener, is not a word to be used casually. Its Middle English roots stem from the word Liege which referred to the feudal relationship between a king and his faithful vassal. So today, remember that the word allegiant implies adhering firmly and steadfast to a person or duty, . One can be allegiant to a company, a leader, a boss and even a profession.