Word of the Day

Saturday, October 17, 2020

ambivert

[ am-bi-vurt ]

noun

Psychology.

one whose personality type is intermediate between extrovert and introvert.

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What is the origin of ambivert?

Ambivert, literally “turned both ways,” is a term used in psychology, meaning “one whose personality type is between introvert and extrovert.” Ambivert is based on Latin elements: the prefix ambi– “both, on both sides, around” (as in English ambient “surrounding, encompassing” and ambiguous “open to several interpretations”), and the suffix –vert, extracted from the verb vertere “to turn” (as in English convert “to turn completely,” and divert “to turn aside, deflect”). Ambivert, first recorded in 1927, is modeled on the somewhat earlier words introvert (1916) and extrovert (1918).

how is ambivert used?

Drew was more of an ambivert. He wasn’t as outgoing as his younger sister, but he wasn’t as reserved as his parents either.

Susan Cain, Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, 2016

A well-developed ambivert, he [Abraham Lincoln] could hold complexity and contradiction to stand firmly behind words America desperately needed ….

Michael Alcee, "Why America Needs Introverted Extroverts Now," Psychology Today, June 27, 2020

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Friday, October 16, 2020

diction

[ dik-shuhn ]

noun

style of speaking or writing as dependent upon choice of words.

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What is the origin of diction?

Diction ultimately comes from Latin dictiō (inflectional stem dictiōn-) “speaking, act of speaking, (oracular) utterance, word, expression,” a derivative of the verb dīcere “to say, speak, talk.” Dictiō, though a word in general Latin vocabulary, is naturally connected very closely with rhetoric and law, two very important professions among the Romans. Dīcere, earlier deicere, comes from the very common Proto-Indo-European root deik- (also deig-), dik- (dig-) “to show, point out,” and appears in Greek deíknysthai “to show, point out,” Gothic ga-teihan “to show, make clear,” and German zeigen “to show.” The 13th-century English philologist, grammarian, and university professor John of Garland coined the word dictiōnārius as the title for one of his Latin textbooks in which he grouped lexical items thematically. Garland explained that his dictiōnārius was not based on the sense of dictiō as a single word, but dictiō in the sense of connected discourse. In the 14th century the Benedictine monk, translator, and encyclopedist Pierre Bersuire used the term dictiōnārium as the title for an alphabetical encyclopedia of the Vulgate (St. Jerome’s version of the Latin Bible, completed at the end of the 4th century). By the 15th century, dictiōnārium acquired the generalized sense “alphabetized wordbook.” Diction entered English in the 15th century.

how is diction used?

She did more than powder noses; she advised on diction and apparel and helped commanders in chief put their best selves forward for television.

Katharine Q. Seelye, "Lillian Brown, Makeup Artist to Nine Presidents, Dies at 106," New York Times, September 29, 2020

His diction mirrors the emotional gravity in each scene, which, combined with raw honesty, is what makes his writing so relatable.

Khrysgiana Pineda, "Review: Bill Clegg's 'The End of the Day' a story of friendship, love and memory," USA Today, September 30, 2020

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

totis viribus

[ toh-tis -wee-ri-boos; English toh-tis -vir-uh-buhs ]

adverb

Latin.

with all one's might.

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What is the origin of totis viribus?

The English adverbial phrase totis viribus, “with all (one’s) might,” comes straight from the Latin phrase tōtīs vīribus, the ablative plural of the adjective tōtus “all, entire, the whole of” and the noun vīs (plural inflectional stem vīr-) “strength, physical strength, force.” More fully, the phrase tōtīs vīribus is an ablative of manner, just in case it’s on tomorrow’s quiz. Totis viribus is uncommon in English; it is used, as one would expect, mostly by lawyers. Vīs has an exact equivalent in Greek ĩs (also wĩs in some dialects), “force, might,” a Homeric word that appears in the instrumental case form ĩphi in the poetic formulas ĩphi máchesthai “to fight with strength,” and ĩphi anássein “to rule with might.” Totis viribus entered English in the 16th century.

how is totis viribus used?

As a fictitious autobiographer—in the power, or at least in the fidelity, of first conceiving a character, and then throwing himself into it totis viribus, and by ten thousand strokes of humour, sense, an observation … Mr. Galt surpasses every writer certainly of this day, and perhaps of any time.

"Review of New Books: Bogle Corbet; or, the Emigrants", The London and Paris Observer, June 12, 1831

If a man say totis viribus, he will resist. The literal meaning is not that he will resist by blood or by force of arms. It is a common expression among lawyers at the bar, “I will resist such an attempt totis viribus.”

Argued by Moses Levy, "The Trial of Frederick Eberle and Others for Conspiracy to Prevent the Use of the English Language, 1816," American State Trials, Vol. 12, 1919

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

doldrums

[ dohl-druhmz, dol-, dawl- ]

noun

(used with a plural verb)

a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art.

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What is the origin of doldrums?

Doldrums is the plural of doldrum, which had two very early meanings: the plural doldrums meant “a state or period of inactivity or stagnation” (1811), the singular doldrum “a dullard, a slow, stupid person” (1812). The later, sailing sense of doldrum, “a becalmed ship,” dates to 1823, and “a region in which ships are likely to become becalmed” dates to 1855. The etymology of doldrum(s) is difficult: it seems to have originated as a slang term (and slang terms are notoriously difficult to etymologize), possibly from dold “stupid,” originally a past participle of Middle English dollen, dullen “to dull,” or possibly from the adjective dull. The second syllable, –drum, is probably the same as in tantrum, which, unfortunately, has no satisfactory etymology. Doldrum and doldrums entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is doldrums used?

countries in economic doldrums may exit the pandemic more reliant on Chinese capital and markets rather than less so.

Richard Fontaine, "China Has Squandered Its First Great Opportunity," The Atlantic, July 30, 2020

A decade later, amid the doldrums of the 1970s, politicians were starting to worry about the financial implications of government regulations.

Adam Rogers, "How Much Is a Human Life Actually Worth?" Wired, May 11, 2020

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

scunner

[ skuhn-er ]

noun

an irrational dislike; loathing.

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What is the origin of scunner?

Those who are addicted to the late, great, dearly missed Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series of novels (41 of them!), particularly The Wee Free Men (2003) and its sequels, will be familiar with the Wee Free Men’s constant use of scunner, a term hard to define past “dislike, aversion, or a source of dislike or aversion” (as indefinable as Huck Finn’s fantods). The Wee Free Men are not talking gibberish or nonsense; they are speaking Scots. The verb scunner (also scurnen, skurne) “to shrink back in disgust or fear, quail, hesitate” is first recorded about 1425. Its further history is unknown, but some authorities think it is related to scornen “to despise, be contemptuous, hold in disdain.” Scunner entered English in the 14th century.

how is scunner used?

Many are in search of a copy of A Moveable Feast. This is not always on offer because, for some reason which I can’t remember, Whitman took a scunner to Hemingway.

Alan Massie, "Shakespeare and Company: the bookshop where you could read in bed," Telegraph, December 15, 2011

Ever since my school days I’ve always taken a scunner to businessmen. They’ll do anything for money.

Sōseki Natsume, I Am a Cat, translated by Aiko Ito & Graeme Wilson, 1972

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Monday, October 12, 2020

Indigenous

[ in-dij-uh-nuhs ]

adjective

relating to or being a people who are the original, earliest known inhabitants of a region, or are their descendants.

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What is the origin of Indigenous?

When used in reference to people (the sense we are highlighting today), Indigenous may be capitalized as a sign of respect. A quick glance at indigenous and endogenous shows close relationship in their formation and meaning. Both adjectives mean something like “internally produced, developing from within.” The first element, Latin indi- and Greek endo-, comes from Proto-Indo-European endo, endon “inside, indoors,” perhaps originally “in the house” (Greek éndon, Hittite anda, andan “within”). In Latin, endo, later indu, is an archaic preposition equivalent to the preposition and adverb in, in– “in, into, inside.” The Latin adjectival suffix –genus “born of” is a derivative of the verb gignere “to beget, bring into being, create” (indigena means “a native inhabitant”). Latin –genus is close kin to the Greek suffix –genḗs “born,” from the verb gígnesthai “to become, be born” (endogenḗs means “born in the house”).

how is Indigenous used?

One shelf contained nonfiction, mostly medical reference books and biographies of great Indigenous people.

Darcie Little Badger, Elatsoe, 2020

For Indigenous authors, writing themselves into sci-fi and fantasy narratives isn’t just about gaining visibility within popular genres. It is part of a broader effort to overcome centuries of cultural misrepresentation.

Alexandra Alter,

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Sunday, October 11, 2020

roister

[ roi-ster ]

verb (used without object)

to act in a swaggering, boisterous, or uproarious manner.

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What is the origin of roister?

The English verb roister, “to act boisterously; to revel without restraint,” started life as a noun meaning “noisy bully” (now roisterer), from Middle French rustre, ru(i)stre “ruffian, boor, lout,” from the adjective ruste “rude, rough,” from the Latin adjective rusticus “rural, rustic.” Roister entered English in the 16th century.

how is roister used?

Haerlem, Schiedam and Olifant were the ships, and they tied up so that their sailors could roister ashore, and large fights broke out because sailors from the first two ships, which bore honorable names, began to tease those. from the Olifant, Dutch for elephant.

James A. Michener, The Covenant, 1980

Their tails had become sticky with pine sap, then got knotted together as the squirrels roistered around.

John Kelly, "What do you do when five baby squirrels accidentally tie their tails together?" Washington Post, April 16, 2019

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