Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

epilogue

[ ep-uh-lawg, -log ]

noun

a concluding part added to a literary work, as a novel.

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What is the origin of epilogue?

Epilogue “a concluding part added to a literary work” derives via Middle English and Latin from Ancient Greek epílogos “conclusion of a speech,” a compound of the preposition epí “in addition to, over, on” and the noun lógos “word.” While an epilogue comes at the end of a book, a prologue comes at the beginning. The element epí, appearing in English as the prefix epi-, is also found in terms such as epidemic, originally meaning “among the people,” and epidermis, originally meaning “on the skin.” Lógos comes from the verb légein “to gather, choose, speak” and is the source of words such as apology, dialogue, and logarithm; this noun is also the source of the combining form -logy “science,” as in biology, geology, and zoology. Epilogue was first recorded in English at the turn of the 15th century.

how is epilogue used?

Some great English Victorian novels also have epilogues. The epilogue of George Eliot’s Adam Bede takes us forward by more than seven years to show the appropriate fates of its chief characters .… Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone has an epilogue that satisfyingly brings his narrative full circle. The mystery of the Moonstone’s theft has been solved. In the epilogue we hear how this fabulous diamond is restored to the Indian idol from which it was taken in the novel’s Prologue.

John Mullan, How Novels Work, 2006

The Stand [miniseries] ruined some of Stephen King’s best villains and left the heroes with little to do, which makes it surprising that the writer himself almost saved the series in a single episode. King penned the final episode of The Stand, a new epilogue that takes place after the action of the story proper, and it’s tense, terrifying, thoughtful, and hopeful—everything 2020’s The Stand failed to be until its finale.

Cathal Gunning, "Stephen King Almost Saved 2020’s The Stand Miniseries," Screen Rant, November 6, 2021

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Word of the day

Monday, November 29, 2021

nebbish

[ neb-ish ]

noun

a pitifully ineffectual, luckless, and timid person.

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What is the origin of nebbish?

Nebbish “a pitifully ineffectual person” is a variant of the Yiddish term nebekh “poor, unfortunate.” Unlike the majority of words in Yiddish, which are of Germanic extraction, nebekh is most likely from a Slavic source such as Czech nebohý “poor.” The original meaning of this Slavic source was “unendowed,” and it derived from a negative prefix (compare English not and non-) and the Proto-Indo-European root bhag- “to share, apportion.” This same root is also found in Ancient Greek phagein “to eat,” as in esophagus. Nebbish was first recorded in English in the early 1890s.

how is nebbish used?

The ability to make a nebbish of ourselves is given to all of us. Some exist with this condition on a permanent basis; others can just turn it on at will. … Of course, being on the fortunate, effectual side of the nebbish equation is always preferable to being on the “wrong” side of nebbishness. But I daresay that all of us have, at one time or another, felt the discomfort and humiliation of acting like a nebbish, wishing that the earth would open up and swallow us, whole.

Allen Unger, The Nebbish Principle, 2002

On Nov. 19, Skylight opens “Little Shop of Horrors,” the Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical that blends comedy and horror through a score that draws on pre-Beatles rock, doo-wop and Motownish sounds. Sievert plays Seymour, the lovestruck florist-shop nebbish who unexpectedly becomes the caretaker of a carnivorous and increasingly hungry hunk of vegetation.

Jim Higgins, "Kevin James Sievert brings a sweet voice to Skylight Music Theatre's 'Little Shop of Horrors,'" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 15, 2021

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Word of the day

Sunday, November 28, 2021

unguinous

[ uhng-gwi-nuhs ]

adjective

resembling, containing, or consisting of fat or oil; greasy; oily.

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What is the origin of unguinous?

Unguinous “containing fat or oil” derives from Latin unguen “fat, grease,” plus the suffix -ōsus “full of.” Unguen, in turn, comes from the verb unguere “to smear” (stem unct-), which is also the source of English terms such as unction “an act of anointing,” unctuous “having an oily feel,” and unguent “a salve applied to wounds.” The stem unct- regularly became oint in French, leading to words such as anoint and ointment. Unguinous was first recorded in English at the turn of the 17th century.

how is unguinous used?

She was sitting in the tent, languidly waiting for the women to come and prepare her for the wedding ceremony. Anointed from head to toe with an unguinous, aromatic oil, her pomaded hair suffused with a sharp scent, she sat vacantly on a pile of sacks, her embroidered gown and jewelry in a corner, chafing her oiled arms as if to dry them.

Shulamith Hareven, Thirst: The Desert Trilogy, translated by Hillel Halkin, 1996

The suit and vest were of an old style, obviously not clean, an unguinous stain down the vest front, and the jacket ashen-white along the lapels and cuff edges where it was worn, but she could see that it had once been a good proper suit, and something about its tidy narrow cut and the way the man fit inside it, comfortably and with a cute sort of pride, reminded her of Poppy and the suit he kept for special occasions and in which he had been buried.

Lynn Stegner, Because a Fire Was in My Head, 2007

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