Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, June 20, 2021

nonpareil

[ non-puh-rel ]

noun

a person or thing having no equal.

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What is the origin of nonpareil?

Nonpareil as an adjective means “peerless, having no equal”; as a noun it means “a person or thing having no equal.” Nonpareil comes via the Middle English adjective nonparaille (also spelled nonpareil, nounparalle, nowimparaile) “unequaled,” from Old French nonpareil (and other variant spellings) “unrivaled, peerless.” French nonpareil is a compound of the negative prefix non– (from Latin nōn) “not” and the adjective pareil “equal,” from Vulgar Latin pāriclus, Late Latin pāriculus, a diminutive adjective and noun formed from Latin pār (inflectional stem pāri– “matching, equal, an equal”). Nonpareil entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is nonpareil used?

As a creative titan who straddled the line between science and speculation, Arthur C. Clarke was a nonpareil.

Scott Thill, "Arthur C. Clarke: Artists Elegize an Icon," Wired, March 19, 2000

In addition to his merits as a critic of literature, oratory, painting, the theater, and politics, Hazlitt was both the originator and nonpareil of sports reporting.

M. H. Abrams, "The Keenest Critic," New York Review of Books, May 10, 1984

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Word of the day

Saturday, June 19, 2021

vermilion

[ ver-mil-yuhn ]

noun

a brilliant scarlet red.

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What is the origin of vermilion?

Vermilion “brilliant scarlet red (color; pigment),” comes from Middle English vermil(i)oun, vermilion(e) (there are nearly 20 spelling variants) “cinnabar, red dye,” from Anglo-French vermeilloun, vermiloun, from Old French verm(e)illon, vermillon “red lead, rouge, cinnabar.” The Old French forms are derivatives of vermeil, vermail, from Late Latin vermiculus “grub, scarlet worm (a cochineal insect that is the source of red dye), scarlet color,” a diminutive of vermis “worm.” Vermilion entered English in the late 13th century.

how is vermilion used?

They were standing, facing each other, beneath the spreading branches of the lovely flamboyant. The rays of the silver moon shone down upon them through the sea of green and vermilion, and revealed the handsome face of the girl upturned to Carl.

Robert Archer Tracy, The Sword of Nemesis, 1919

The biggest seller is the Southern red velvet cake, which, underneath its creamy, demurely white icing, holds three layers of cake that’s rightfully (if alarmingly) vermilion with a lofty, delicate texture.

Stephanie Rosenbaum, "Cake Man Raven Confectionary," New York Magazine, 2005

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Word of the day

Friday, June 18, 2021

tickety-boo

[ tik-i-tee-boo ]

adjective

fine; OK.

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What is the origin of tickety-boo?

Tickety-boo, an informal adjective meaning “fine, OK,” is a British colloquialism of uncertain etymology. It may be an expressive alteration of “that’s the ticket,” ticket here having its informal sense “the proper thing, advisable thing.” Or tickety-boo may be a holdover from the Raj, from Hindi ṭhīk hai “It’s all right,” or ṭhīk hai, bābū “It’s all right, Sir.” Tickety-boo entered English in the first half of the 20th century.

how is tickety-boo used?

I spent a couple of Saturdays gathering all of my bank statements and other documents, making post-closing general journal entries, and printing out financial statements to deliver to my C.P.A. for both our corporate and personal income tax returns. As my Canadian father would say, my books are now tickety-boo (translation: in perfect working order).

Barbara Taylor, "Finding Something to Like About April 15," New York Times, March 1, 2010

I broke one of the six required ramekins before I even started, and the ovenproof dish I used was too small at 22 centimeters (8.7 inches) by 15 cms. … Oh, and I also managed to burn the souffles, but only a little bit. Apart from all that, it was all tickety-boo.

Richard Vines, "Mary Berry's Simple Recipe for Double-Baked Mushroom Souffles," Bloomberg, October 17, 2020

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