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Today's Word "elliptical"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

elliptical \i-LIP-ti-kuhl\ (adjective) also elliptic - 1 : Of, relating to, or having the shape of an ellipse. 2 : Containing or characterized by ellipsis (omission of a word or phrase). 3 : Of or relating to extreme economy of oral or written expression. Marked by deliberate obscurity of style or expression.

"Allen has written a somewhat ...Read more

Today's Word "repartee"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

repartee \rep-uhr-TEE\ (noun) - 1 : A quick, witty reply or conversation. 2 : Cleverness in making witty conversation.

"The repartee between the four co-hosts of the morning program was a delicate affair and was utterly lost when one of them left to host another show."

From repartie (retort), from repartir (to retort), from re- + partir (to ...Read more

Today's Word "Gulag"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

gulag \GOO-lahg\ (noun) - 1 : The system of forced-labor camp in the former Soviet Union. 2 : Any prison or forced-labor camp, especially one for political prisoners. 3 : A place of great hardship.

"The new management's cost-cutting efforts rapidly turned what had been a pleasant work environment into a gulag-like place of toil."

From ...Read more

Today's Word "Invidious"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

invidious \in-VI-di-ehs\ (adjective) - 1 : Offensive, insulting, causing ill-will; 2 : envious.

"Before Civil Rights legislation of the 60s and 70s, the US was home to many invidious laws discriminating against minority groups."

From Latin invidiosus "envious, hostile" from invidia "envy." "Envy" itself comes from the same Latin word but ...Read more

Today's Word "Threnody"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

threnody /THREN-uh-dee/ (noun) - A song of lamentation for the dead.

"In his latest novel, the author tied several elements together in what amounts to a threnody of grief for the American dream."

From Greek threnoidia, from threnos (lament) + oide (song). Ultimately from Indo-European root wed- (to speak) that is also the forefather of ...Read more

Today's Word "Levin"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

levin \LEV-in\ (noun) - Lightning; a bright light.

"Broad and frequent through the night
Flash'd the sheets of levin-light;"
Walter Scott; The Dance of Death; 1815.

From Middle English levene. Ultimately from Indo-European root leuk- (light) that's resulted in other words such as lunar, lunatic, light, lightning, lucid, ...Read more

Today's Word "Pompadour"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

pompadour \POM-puh-dor\ (noun) - A hairstyle where the hair at the front is brushed up into a mound or a roll, above the forehead. Also known as quiff.

"Impressed with himself over his new pompadour which he felt made him look like Elvis, Charles was crestfallen when informed that Kim Jong Il had one as well."

After the Marquise de ...Read more

Today's Word "Quiddity"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

quiddity \KWI-deh-ti\ (noun) - 1 : The essential nature of a thing, its character; 2 : a trivial issue, a quibble.

"Can we get past the quiddities and down to the quiddities of the issue?"

Today's word comes from Medieval Latin "quidditas" based on quid "what," as in quid pro quo "something for something" and a recent word in our series, "...Read more

Today's Word "Resile"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

resile \ri-ZYL\ (verb intr.) - 1 : To rebound or recoil. 2 : To shrink, withdraw, or retreat.

"Once the needless threats of financial destruction were taken off the table, both parties could finally engage in a meaningful dialogue on how they could resile from their hardened positions and strike a compromise."

From obsolete French resilir, ...Read more

Today's Word "tenet"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

tenet \TEN-it\ (noun) - Any opinion, principle, dogma, belief, or doctrine that a person holds or maintains as true.

"George lived his life by the simple tenet 'Do unto others before they do unto you.'"

Tenet comes from Latin tenet "he holds" (something as true), from tenere, "to hold."

Today's Word "repartee"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

repartee \rep-uhr-TEE\ (noun) - 1 : A quick, witty reply or conversation. 2 : Cleverness in making witty conversation.

"The repartee between the four co-hosts of the morning program was a delicate affair and was utterly lost when one of them left to host another show."

From repartie (retort), from repartir (to retort), from re- + partir (to ...Read more

Today's Word "palisade"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

palisade \pal-uh-SADE\ (noun) - 1 : A fence of stakes forming a defense. 2 : A line of steep cliffs, especially along a river.

(verb tr.) - To fortify with palisades.

"The many books, manuals, magazines, technical journals, and other reference materials which surrounded Caroline's desk were all topped by assorted bottles and empty diet-soda ...Read more

Today's Word "benevolent"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

benevolent \buh-NEV-uh-luhnt\ (adjective) - 1 : Characterized by or suggestive of doing good. 2 : Of, concerned with, or organized for the benefit of charity.

"While all initially hoped that the new boss would be more benevolent than the previous one, he turned out to be considerably nastier and cold-blooded."

Middle English, from Old French, ...Read more

A Canny Question Proves Uncanny

Knowledge / The Word Guy /

I had just been thinking about the odd words "canny" and "uncanny" when an email from a friend arrived asking, "How are the words 'canny' and 'uncanny' related?"

Now, that's uncanny.

If you're a canny connoisseur of language (and if you're reading this column, you undoubtedly are), you know that "canny" means shrewd, prudent, as in "a canny ...Read more

Today's Word "exiguous"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

exiguous \ig-ZIG-yoo-us\ (adjective) - Extremely scanty; meager.

"Janice worked as a waitress in an effort to supplement her exiguous income working at a big box retailer, although neither employer was sympathetic to the other's schedule."

Exiguous comes from Latin exiguus, "strictly weighed; too strictly weighed," hence "scanty, meager," from...Read more

Today's Word "inhere"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

inhere \in-HIR\ (intransitive verb) - To be inherent; to belong, as attributes or qualities.

"The foundations of the palace, like those of the prison, inhere in the fine quality of the stone, in marble stairways, in real gold, in carvings, the rarest in the realm, the absolute power of their hosts." -- Jean Genet, 'The Thief's Journal'

Inhere ...Read more

Today's Word "Beleaguer"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

beleaguer \be-LEE-gehr\ (verb) - To surround and besiege, as to beleaguer a city until it surrenders; to continuously beset from all sides; to completely fatigue with numerous attacks or constant pressure.

"Beleaguered by the constant taunts of his teammates, Jason finally switched from the baseball team to the debate team."

Dutch belegeren...Read more

Today's Word "skulk"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

skulk \SKUHLK\ (intransitive verb) - 1 : To hide, or get out of the way, in a sneaking manner; to lurk. 2 : To move about in a stealthy way. 3 : To avoid responsibilities and duties.

(noun) - 1 : One who skulks. 2 : A group of foxes.

"You're too large to skulk about. They'd see you in an instant." -- Kinley MacGregor, Claiming the Highlander

...Read more

Today's Word "Philomath"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

philomath \FIL-uh-math\ (noun) - A lover of learning.

"While others called him indecisive and afraid of the real world, Chris preferred to think that the reason he'd become a 'full-time student' had more to do with his being a philomath than anything else."

From Greek philomaths (fond of learning), from philo- (loving) + math- root of ...Read more

Today's Word "approbation"

Knowledge / Vocabulary /

approbation \ap-ruh-BAY-shuhn\ (noun) - 1 : The act of approving; formal or official approval. 2 : Praise; commendation.

"The candidate's speech struck a responsive chord among the crowd of well-wishers and won him much approbation."

Approbation is from Latin approbatio, from approbare, "to approve or cause to be approved," from ap- (for ad-),...Read more

 

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