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Today's Word "Histrionic"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

histrionic \his-tree-AHN-ik\ (adjective) - Exaggerated or melodramatic in behavior or speech, extremely theatrical.

"Every time Jason fails to get his way, he flies into a histrionic diatribe about how he is undervalued by those around him."

This word is Latin histrionicus "theatrical" from histrio, histrion- "actor," barely touched up for ...Read more

Today's Word "Circadian"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

circadian \sehr-KEYD-(i-)yehn\ (adjective) - Pertaining to a 24-hour day, especially, occurring every 24 hours.

"Rob's circadian rhythm corresponded more to the west coast than the east, making him more than a bit of a night owl."

Today's word is made up of Latin circa "around" + dies "day." The original form of "dies" was Proto-Indo-...Read more

Today's Word "Apoplectic"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

apoplectic \AE-peh-plek-tik\ (adjective) - Causing or suffering from the symptoms of a brain attack or stroke (apoplexy); sudden abnormal blood-flow (hemorrhage) into an organ; furious, livid.

"Jeff was quick to say that the apoplectic media were suffering from a malaise that prevented them from responding to serious issues and events."

...Read more

Today's Word "Jocund"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

jocund \JAH-kehnd or JO-kehnd\ (adjective) - Happy, light-hearted, pleasant, carefree, cheerful.

"Sally would always point out that a jocund home was a good place for children to grow up, so she would encourage everyone to laugh often."

Old French "jocund" from Latin jucundus, jocundus "pleasant, agreeable" from juvare "to help" and related...Read more

Today's Word "Elixir"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

elixir \eh-LIK-sehr\ (noun) - 1 : Like the philosopher's stone, a substance believed to have the power to change base metal into gold; 2 : a magic potion with a miraculous curative or restorative effect, sometimes believed to prolong life indefinitely; 3 : a sweetened, flavored base for medicines.

"James was quick to point out that there is ...Read more

Today's Word "Treacle"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

treacle \TREE-kehl\ (noun) - 1 : Syrup, especially from the first pressing of sugar cane but also the molasses left over after the sugar crystals are removed; 2 : sugar-coating, cloying sentiment, sweetness of speech, especially insincere compliments.

"When Geoffrey's Aunt Mildred schmoozes someone, the treacle fairly drips from her words...Read more

Today's Word "Grub"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

grub \grehb\ (noun) - (Western US Slang) Plain food, 'eats,' victuals; also, a thick white larva of some insects that spends its life digging through the soil.

"That was some grub you rustled up for us tonight, Cookie; where did you dig it up?"

Speaking of grub, some of the best is the cured salmon known as gravlax, from Swedish grava "to...Read more

Today's Word "Recidivism"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

recidivism \ri-SID-eh-viz-ehm\ (noun) - A relapse or reversion to a previous nature, character, or state; back-sliding.

"Recidivism among dieters peaks between Christmas and the New Year holidays."

Today's word was created by analogy from "recidivist," itself taken from French recidiviste, a noun derived from recidiver "to relapse," ...Read more

Today's Word "Percolate"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

percolate \PEHR-keh-leyt\ (verb) - To seep downward through a granular substance or material, as rainwater percolates through the soil.

"Rumors percolating from the president's office have it that we are in for a shake-up at the top."

Today's word is an adopted daughter from the Latin verb "percolare," derived from per- "through" + colare "...Read more

Today's Word "Victual"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

victual \VIT-ehl\ (noun) - Human food; (Plural) food and provisions

"Carrie was quick to point out that they had enough victuals in the house to live for three months without leaving it."

From Old French vitaille (also vitale), the normal descendent of Late Latin victualia, the neuter plural of victualis "food, sustenance." In Middle ...Read more

Today's Word "Natter"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

natter \NAE-dehr\ (verb) - 1 : To nag, grumble, complain (mostly Scotland and Northern England); 2 : to chatter mindlessly.

"Whenever Angela gets lonely she comes over to natter the afternoon away with me over tea."

It may be a variant of dialectal gnatter "to nibble, chatter" or it may be a blend of "nag" and "chatter," no one knows for ...Read more

Today's Word "Penumbra"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

penumbra \peh-NEHM-breh\ (noun) - 1 : A partial shadow, especially when appearing between a complete shadow and bright light, as you might see on the moon's surface during an eclipse; 2 : a surrounding area in which something is weaker, attenuated, or exists to a reduced degree.

"Courtney is a shady lady who has worked in the penumbra of ...Read more

Today's Word "Quicksand"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

quicksand \KWIK-saend\ (noun) - 1 : A bed of dense, sticky sand or mud that clings to objects that fall into it, making escape difficult; 2 : a situation in which attempts to escape only make matters worse.

"The contract negotiations turned into quicksand as, the more we talked, the worse our position became."

Today's word comes from Middle...Read more

Today's Word "Ogle"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

ogle \O-gehl\ (verb) - To stare at in an obvious fashion with eyes wide open, especially out of salacious interest.

"Jason's blatant ogling has already earned him several slaps in the face and a lonely life."

Our word today came to us from Low German "oegeln," the frequentative form of oegen "to eye" from oge "eye." This word shares its ...Read more

Today's Word "Prosopopeia"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

prosopopeia \preh-so-peh-PEE-eh\ (noun) - 1 : A rhetorical figure by which an imaginary or absent person is represented as speaking or acting; the introduction of a pretended speaker; 2 : personification (a rhetorical figure in which human traits are given to a non-human object).

"We are awash in a veritable sea of prosopopeia such as; '...Read more

Today's Word "Fiduciary"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

fiduciary \feh-DU-shi-e-ri\ (adjective) - 1 : Holding or overseeing something in trust. 2 : Of or related to a trust, trustee or trusteeship, as a fiduciary relationship to a minor or a fiduciary institution that manages financial assets. 3 : Depending on public trust or securities for its value, as a fiduciary issue of currency.

"My ...Read more

Today's Word "Blandiloquent"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

blandiloquent \blaen-DI-leh-qwehnt/ (adjective) - Smooth-talking, honey-tongued; flattering.

"Some blandiloquent used-car salesman convinced Tony's Great-Aunt Mathilda to buy a 2001 Honda with 300,000 miles on it."

Today's is another case of lexical larceny by Mother English, this time of Latin blandiloquentia "smooth-talking," a compound ...Read more

Today's Word "Blarney"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

blarney \BLAHR-nee\ (noun) - 1 : The gift of eloquent speech; 2 : empty words, double-talk, fabrication, nonsense.

"Ted's story of how he completed his PhD at Harvard in two years is pure blarney."

Today's word is an eponym from Blarney Village just outside the city of Cork, Ireland. The world famous Blarney Stone is perched high up in the ...Read more

For Your Consideration

Knowledge / The Word Guy /

Consider these sentences:

"The ice cream did not contain any artificial ingredients."

"The company is likely to earn a profit this year."

"Henry criticized the boss on two occasions."

Simple, straightforward and clear, right?

In fact, these sentences are not as trim and clean as they could be. They're flabby -- laden with a few extra ...Read more

Can 'Real' Really Replace 'Really'?

Knowledge / The Word Guy /

Q. Has the adverb "really" completely disappeared from usage? I hear sentences such as: "The shoes are real tight"; "The clerk was real nice"; "It was a real good movie." -- Robert Derosier, West Hartford, Conn.

A. Darn! Thanks to your question, now I can't get the lyrics from a song in the musical "Carousel" out of my head: "This was a real ...Read more

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