Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, December 07, 2021
Word of the Year

allyship

[ al-ahy-ship ]

noun

the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.

learn about the english language

Why Dictionary.com chose allyship

The year 2021 has been defined by the many ongoing impacts of the pandemic and the polarization of 2020—and the various ways we continue to grapple with them. The vastness of such a year could never be fully summarized with a single word. But there is one word that’s intertwined with so many of the things we’ve experienced in 2021: allyship, our 2021 Word of the Year. As our Word of the Year for 2021, allyship carries an additional special distinction this year: It marks the first time we’ve chosen a word that’s new to our dictionary as our Word of the Year. Our addition of the word allyship to our dictionary in 2021—not to mention our decision to elevate it as our top word for the year—captures important ways the word continues to evolve in our language and reflects its increased prominence in our discourse. Allyship acts as a powerful prism through which to view the defining events and experiences of the past year—and, crucially, how the public processed them. And while we must acknowledge that efforts at allyship are all too often insufficient and imperfect, the word nonetheless stands out for its role in the path out of the continued crises of 2020 toward a better 2022. Read more about Dictionary.com's 2021 Word of the Year allyship.

What is the origin of allyship?

Allyship “the status of being an advocate for the inclusion of a marginalized group of which the advocate is not a member” is a compound of the noun ally and the combining form -ship, the latter of which denotes condition, character, or skill. Ally derives via Anglo-French and Old French from the Latin verb alligāre “to bind to,” from ligāre “to bind.” Additional descendants of ligāre include alloy, league, liable, ligament, and oblige, all of which involve a link to or merger with another person, object, or entity. Latin alligāre became alier “to unite, combine, join (in kinship)” in Old French, and its derivative noun, alliiet, gained the sense of “relative.” From there, ally shifted in English to mean “friend, associate” and then developed the additional meaning of “supporter or member of an alliance.” Today, the term has developed a specific nuance: allies are not part of the group that they support but stand in solidarity with the group nonetheless. Allyship was first recorded in English in the late 1840s in the sense “the state of being associated with another or others for a common purpose,” a definition that differs from allyship’s current meaning.

how is allyship used?

After the … nationwide outrage last summer, corporate America leaned harder into … superficial solutions. Companies were quick to promise an inclusive work environment, flooded their social media pages with Black and brown faces, extolled allyship, and put on socially distanced town halls on race.

Rita Omokha, “VR Trainings Are Not Going to Fix Corporate Racism,” Wired, May 26, 2021

Ernest Owens, a 28-year-old Black journalist, questions the concept of whites as “allies.” While many have good intentions, he said true allyship—supporting Black businesses, deeply exploring personal bias and ferreting out ways that white privilege contributes to persistent racism—must happen in order to genuinely stand in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed.

Deepti Hajela and Leanne Italie, "Dear white people: Being an ally isn’t always what you think," AP News, June 13, 2020

Listen to the podcast

allyship

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
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day

Monday, December 06, 2021

cockade

[ ko-keyd ]

noun

a rosette, knot of ribbon, etc., usually worn on the hat as part of a uniform, as a badge of office, or the like.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of cockade?

Cockade “a rosette worn on the hat as part of a uniform” is an alteration of the French term cocarde, which derives from the Middle French word cocquard “boastful, silly, cocky” (like the boastful behavior of a rooster). Cocquard is a compound of the noun coc “rooster, cock” and -ard, a noun-forming suffix. Coc derives from Late Latin coccus or a Germanic term akin to Old Norse kokkr and is of onomatopoeic origin; numerous languages worldwide independently developed similar-sounding words for “rooster” by imitating the sound of the rooster’s call. The suffix -ard is likely extracted from a Frankish element, -hart “strong, brave, hardy,” found in Germanic-origin personal names in French, such as Bernard and Richard, and in terms for people who regularly engage in a particular activity or are characterized in a certain way, such as drunkard and wizard. Cockade was first recorded in English in the 1650s.

how is cockade used?

During the immediate aftermath of the revolution and the execution of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, the Committee of Public Safety attempted to use the guillotine to shape what member Maximilien Robespierre dubbed “a republic of virtue.” … Offenses included dress: Infractions like displaying royalist insignia or colors (the fleur-­de-­lis, white, green or any indication of mourning), or refusal to sport the cockade, that symbolically ­loaded knot of tricolor ribbons, were, in some cases, enough to send someone to the tumbrils.

Alexander Fury, “When Fashion Becomes a Form of Protest,” New York Times Style Magazine, August 17, 2016

The men beside me seem so gored and emasculated by time that I look away. One has no gray in his hair, so I suppose he is rather young …. He opens his briefcase busily, but it contains nothing but a printed brochure. Will such a weary face be welcomed anywhere? The face seems incapable of any sensual provocation or response. But when it is time for him to leave he jauntily slaps on a sealskin hat with a bright feather cockade and braces his shoulders in his raincoat. He’s ready for the next round.

John Cheever, "From the Seventies and Early Eighties," The New Yorker, August 4, 1991

Listen to the podcast

cockade

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day

Sunday, December 05, 2021

imp

[ imp ]

noun

a little devil or demon; an evil spirit.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of imp?

Imp “a little devil or demon” derives from Old English impa “shoot, graft,” via Latin impotus from Ancient Greek émphytos “planted, implanted.” This Ancient Greek source is related to the noun phytón “plant,” which is the source of the English combining forms phyto- (as in phytochemical, a compound found in plants) and -phyte (as in neophyte “a beginner or novice,” literally “a new plant”). The story of how a word for “plant” became a word for “little devil” is less complicated than one might think; from “plant,” the definition shifted to “offshoot of a plant,” and from there, it broadened to include any offspring, plant or animal. The phrase imp of the devil, meaning “offspring of the devil,” gave imp the additional sense of “demon,” which the word has preserved to the present day though it no longer appears in that phrase. Imp was first recorded in English before the 8th century.

how is imp used?

Experts can say that something is safe, but if we don’t feel that it’s safe, our inner voice can win out over reason. (Likewise, when experts say something is bad for us, we often dispose of that advice in favor of listening to the little imp on our shoulder telling us that it’s something we want to do, so it can’t be all that bad.) The best experts help us find the sweet spot between our gut and our brain by explaining processes, risks, and benefits in ways that we can understand.

Tom Nichols, “Following Your Gut Isn’t the Right Way to Go,” The Atlantic, March 22, 2021

The entire day passed, but Ivan kept on braiding the cord. Suddenly an imp jumped out of the water. “Hired man, what are you doing?” “Why, you can see for yourself. I’m braiding a rope.” “And what do you need the rope for?” “What for? I want to cinch up the lake and squeeze out you devils.”

A. N. Afanas’ev (1826-1871), "The Block-Headed Priest," The Complete Folktales of A. N. Anafas'ev, translated by Jack V. Haney, 2021

Listen to the podcast

imp

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Word of the Day Calendar

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

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