Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

mammonism

[ mam-uh-niz-uhm ]

noun

the greedy pursuit of riches.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of mammonism?

Mammonism “the greedy pursuit of riches,” derives from the Late Latin mammon (also mammōnas and mammōna) “wealth, personification of wealth,” from Greek mamōnâs, from Aramaic māmōn “riches, wealth, profit.” Mamōnâs occurs only in the Greek New Testament and is left untranslated, a usage that the Latin Vulgate also follows. By medieval times (for instance in the Old English Lindisfarne Gospels of the early 8th century) Mammon was a proper name for the Devil as the instigator of covetousness. In Piers Plowman (late 14th century), Mammon is the proper name for the devil of greed, and John Milton used Mammon as the name of one of the fallen Angels in Paradise Lost. Mammonism entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is mammonism used?

It is not so new, after all—this alliance of mammonism with epicurism—the mania for sudden wealth and the passion for a vulgar display of it in twenty-thousand-dollar banquets.

Addison Ballard, "Gust and Greed," New York Times, November 5, 1905

With our present system of individual Mammonism and Government by Laissez-faire, this Nation cannot live.

Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, 1843

Listen to the word of the day

mammonism

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Word of the day

Monday, January 18, 2021

inextricably

[ in-ik-strik-uh-blee ]

adverb

in a way that is unable to be separated or disentangled.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of inextricably?

All of the elements of the adverb inextricably, “in a way that cannot be disentangled,” come from Latin, except the final adverb suffix –ly. The adjective inextricable comes from Latin inextrīcābilis, clearly composed of the negative prefix in– (from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-, as in unclear) and the compound verb extrīcāre “to set free, loose, solve (a problem),” which is formed from the preposition and prefix ex, ex– “out, out of” and the plural noun trīcae “knot of problems; nonsense” (which has no definite etymology). The last element of inextrīcābilis is the adjective suffix -ābilis, completely naturalized in English -able. The English adverb suffix -ly comes from Middle English -li, -lich, -liche, from Old English -līce, an adverb suffix formed from the adjective suffix –līc. The suffix –līc is related to the Old English noun līc “a body (usually dead),” which survives in English lich gate, the roofed gate to a cemetery where the coffin is set for the arrival of the clergyman. In English, therefore, clearly means “with a clear body”; in Romance (French, for example), the usual adverb suffix is -ment, from Latin mente “(with the) mind”; so the French adverb clairement “clearly” literally means “with a clear mind.” Inextricably entered English at the end of the 16th century.

how is inextricably used?

many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny, and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have A Dream," delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963

The issue of national security, for any of these countries as well as the United States, is inextricably interlinked not only with immigration and border policies but also with food security.

Abrahm Lustgarten, "How Russian Wins the Climate Crisis," New York Times Magazine, December 16, 2020

Listen to the word of the day

inextricably

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Word of the day

Sunday, January 17, 2021

beamish

[ bee-mish ]

adjective

bright, cheerful, and optimistic.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of beamish?

You can be forgiven for thinking that beamish “bright, cheerful, optimistic” is a creation of Lewis Carroll’s: in his poem “Jabberwocky” in Through the Looking Glass (1871), Carroll wrote: “’And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? / Come to my arms, my beamish boy! / O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’ / He chortled in his joy.” Carroll was only the second English author to use beamish: the first one was John Palsgrave (ca. 1485-1545), classicist, linguist, lawyer, textbook author, and–most “interesting”–a priest serving at the court of King Henry VIII. As tutor to King Henry’s sister, Princess Mary, Palsgrave wrote and dedicated to King Henry a 1000-page French-English bilingual dictionary and contrastive grammar of English and French, Lesclarcissement de la langue francoyse (1530) “The Clarification of the French Language.” In his “Clarification,” Palsgrave translated and defined the French adjective radieux, “Beamysshe as the sonne is, radieux.”

how is beamish used?

Carell was playing Barry, a sweet, beamish misfit who builds dioramas using taxidermized mice.

Tad Friend, "First Banana," The New Yorker, June 28, 2010

As I went up the aisle at evening’s end, I was looking at rows of beamish faces, faces that were both pleased with the unfamiliar style of the show and also pleased with themselves for having managed to get the hang of it.

Walter Kerr, "A Dotty Old Friend Is Back in Town," New York Times, January 31, 1982

Listen to the word of the day

beamish

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Word of the day

Saturday, January 16, 2021

terrene

[ te-reen, tuh-, ter-een ]

adjective

earthly; worldly.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of terrene?

Terrene ultimately comes, via Middle English terrene, terrain, from Anglo-French terreine, terren, from Old French terrïen, from Latin terrēnus “belonging to or living on dry land, earthly, earthy, pertaining to the material part of humans, belonging to this mortal world (as opposed to the celestial or divine).” Terrēnus is a derivative of the noun terra (from unrecorded tersa) “land, dry land, mainland, surface of the earth,” from the Proto-Indo-European root ters– “to dry,” from which Greek derives térsesthai “to become dry,” Albanian ter “to dry (in the open air),” and Old English thurst “dryness,” English “thirst.” Terrene entered English in the 14th century.

how is terrene used?

Over all this Raynaud looked from his high citadel as if he had no concern in these terrene matters.

C. F. Keary, "The Four Students," Macmillan's Magazine, January 1892

we were created, and sent into the world, to struggle through many hardships; some to serve for examples to deter others from vice, some to prove that Virtue enables her votaries to rise above all terrene objects.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, Emma; or, The Unfortunate Attachment, 1773

Listen to the word of the day

terrene

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Word of the day

Friday, January 15, 2021

ergo

[ ur-goh, er-goh ]

conjunction, adverb

therefore.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of ergo?

The conjunction and adverb ergo comes straight from the Latin conjunction ergō, ergo “therefore, consequently, accordingly, and so,” much used in rhetoric and logic. Ergo came into Middle English toward the end of the 14th century as a conjunction or adverb introducing the conclusion of a syllogism, e.g., “Socrates is a man, / all men are mortal; / ergo Socrates is mortal.”

how is ergo used?

Nonetheless, receiving rapid testing for the virus has become a mark of status and, ergo, a trending topic on social media.

Alyson Krueger, "Rapid Testing Is the New Velvet Rope," New York Times, August 16, 2020

Almost all professional orchestras have their own Web sites, where you can … read cute bios of the players. (The oboist bungee-jumps; ergo, musicians are human beings, not alien geeks.)

Alex Ross, "On the Road," The New Yorker, June 25, 2007

Listen to the word of the day

ergo

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Word of the day

Thursday, January 14, 2021

discombobulate

[ dis-kuhm-bob-yuh-leyt ]

verb (used with object)

to confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of discombobulate?

Discombobulate “to confuse, upset, or frustrate” was originally a jocular American coinage from the North Midland U.S. (from Ohio west through Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, to Nebraska). Discombobulate is a pseudo-Latinism like absquatulate and confusticate, and based on learned Latin words like disaffiliate or disaggregate, or humorous alterations of discompose or discomfort. The many variant spellings include discombobligate, discombobolate, discomboberate, discombooberate, and discumboblificate. Discombobulate entered English in 1825 in the spelling discomboberated.

how is discombobulate used?

The filmmaking theory seems to be that if you discombobulate viewers with random shifts of the camera perhaps they won’t notice that your U.F.O. show contains no hard evidence of U.F.O.’s.

Neil Genzlinger, "An Alien March Madness: Is There Life in Space?" New York Times, February 28, 2014

On how humankind will cope, I tend to take the long view: new transformative technologies have discombobulated us before and we’ve managed to adapt—to the invention of writing and printing, to living in cities, to the Industrial Revolution and instant communication and automobiles and nuclear technology.

Kurt Andersen, "Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence," Vanity Fair, November 26, 2014

Listen to the word of the day

discombobulate

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Word of the day

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

umbrageous

[ uhm-brey-juhs ]

adjective

apt to take offense.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of umbrageous?

Umbrageous has two main senses: “creating or providing shade, shady” and “apt or likely to take offense.” The word comes via French ombrageux “shady; inclined to take offense,” from Latin umbrāticus “(of a person or an activity) living or performed in the shade, secluded, devoted to quiet, impractical pursuits.” Umbrāticus, a derivative adjective and noun of umbra “shadow, shade, reflection, outline,” does not have the senses “shady, providing shade” or “apt or inclined to take offense,” which are senses that English borrowed from 17th-century French. Umbrageous entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is umbrageous used?

… he was quite umbrageous, and his personality lent itself to confrontation.

Chuck Pfarrer, Philip Nolan: The Man Without a Country, 2016

Is it possible to spend time with friends whose company I do enjoy without incurring the wrath of the umbrageous?

"Miss Manners: Host needs specific dates for holiday guests," Washington Post, December 6, 2019

Listen to the word of the day

umbrageous

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.