Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

agglutinative

[ uh-gloot-n-ey-tiv ] [ əˈglut nˌeɪ tɪv ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

adjective

pertaining to or noting a language characterized by combining morphemes (meaningful word elements) without fusion or change.

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What is the origin of agglutinative?

Agglutinative “pertaining to a language characterized by combining morphemes without fusion” is formed from the verb agglutinate “to unite, as with glue,” plus the adjective-forming suffix -ive. Agglutinate ultimately comes from the Latin noun glūten (stem glūtin-) “glue,” which also lends its name to the sticky protein that is found in wheat and other grains that can negatively affect those with an allergy or celiac disease. Partially or totally agglutinative languages are found worldwide, from Japanese, Malay, and Navajo (Diné Bizaad) to Basque (Euskera), Finnish, and Swahili. Agglutinative was first recorded in English circa 1630.

how is agglutinative used?

Cornelia Gerhardt, an English linguist at Saarland University in Germany and one of the founders of culinary linguistics, a field concerned with the ties between language and food, believes that English is a language that does not like to pack too much information into one word. “English is analytical, using a series of words to explain an idea,” Dr. Gerhardt said, “unlike polysynthetic languages (where entire concepts are reduced to a single word) or agglutinative languages (where suffixes and prefixes are added to a root word to create new words).”

Ruth Dsouza Prabhu, “‘Sitting Outside on a Sunny Day and Enjoying a Beer,’” New York Times, February 14, 2022
[F]ully appreciating the challenges of communicating technical information in ASL requires understanding that ASL is not a signed form of English. It’s a distinct language, with specific rules and grammar. When there’s a new phenomenon in English, people tend to create a new word for it. “ASL tends to use agglutinative structure, which means that the signs are composed of different signs, which do not change much when strung together to make a word,” says Jon Henner, a deaf linguist specializing in ASL at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Leigh Krietsch Boerner, "Expanding American Sign Language's scientific vocabulary," Chemical and Engineering News, July 11, 2021

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Word of the day

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

aegis

[ ee-jis ] [ ˈi dʒɪs ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

noun

protection; support.

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What is the origin of aegis?

Aegis “protection, support” comes by way of Latin from Ancient Greek aigís “shield of Zeus or Athena,” which may derive from aíx (stem aig-) “goat” in reference to a type of cloak or shield made of goatskin, plus -is, a noun-forming suffix. Because the stem of aigís is aigíd-, aegis may be pluralized in English either as aegises or, more traditionally, as aegides. Ancient Greek aíx does not have any clear relatives in modern English, and it remains uncertain whether aíx is of Indo-European origin or is a borrowing from a Middle Eastern source. Be sure not to confuse aíx with Latin agnus “lamb,” which looks similar but is not related. Aegis was first recorded in the mid-15th century.

how is aegis used?

Longtime home of the Anasazi and inhabited by the Navajo since at least the 1700s, Canyon de Chelly is now a national park in Chinle, Arizona, and is operated by Navajos under the aegis of the National Park Service. The guides, who are all Navajo, speak of the remarkable geology of what is the second largest canyon in the United States, and about what has been learned from artifacts found in the 84,000-acre archaeological sanctuary.

Frances Madeson, “Fate of Navajo, Canyon de Chelly, and Sheep Is Life Celebration on Field Trip Agenda,” Indian Country Today, June 13, 2017

The history of the towns that became Roman is known to us very imperfectly and unevenly …. Further, great mystery shrouds the particulars of their overthrow when the aegis of the Roman authority was withdrawn. There are but few survivals of towns to the present day, and parallels must be sought rather in Pannonia and North Africa than in the Western European Empire.

James Oliver Bevan, The Towns of Roman Britain, 1917

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Word of the day

Monday, May 16, 2022

cherubic

[ chuh-roo-bik ] [ tʃəˈru bɪk ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

adjective

of or having the nature of a cherub, or an angel represented as a rosy-cheeked child with wings; angelic.

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What is the origin of cherubic?

Cherubic “of or having the nature of a cherub” is based on the noun cherub (plural cherubim or cherubs, depending on the context), plus the adjective-forming suffix -ic. Cherub derives via Latin from Ancient Greek kheroúb, which was adapted from Hebrew kərūbh. The Hebrew plural kərūbhīm was far better known than the singular kərūbh was, and earlier versions of English (compare Old English cerubim) as well as many Romance languages (compare French chérubin and Spanish querubín) based their singular words for cherub on the Hebrew plural. This singular–plural confusion even appears in literature; Madeleine L’Engle, in A Wind in the Door, includes a character who introduces itself, however paradoxically, as a “singular cherubim.” Cherubic was first recorded in English in the early 17th century.

how is cherubic used?

The designing duo of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana constructed a Baroque Sicilian church façade as the background for their “King of Angels” collection. The show opened with a tableau of young stars in formalwear, including elaborately embroidered military-style jackets and floral suits, walking beneath a pair of cherubs. The colorful knitwear that featured cherubic putti in oval frames looked inspired by church ceilings, and angelic visages also graced motorcycle jackets.

Colleen Barry, “Versace goes punk wild with homey looks,” AP News, January 13, 2018

Alexander Lingas, a musicologist and the music director of Cappella Romana [a vocal ensemble based in Portland, Ore.] …. said that some pieces only “made sense” inside the simulated acoustics. One example featured on the album is a cherubic hymn that likens the singers to angels …. [A]s the group rehearsed it with the virtual acoustics, a pattern of repeated undulating motifs built up rippling momentum until, as he described it, “the sound essentially achieved liftoff.”

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, “How a Historian Stuffed Hagia Sophia’s Sound Into a Studio,” New York Times, July 30, 2020

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