Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

ambrosial

[ am-broh-zhuhl ]

adjective

exceptionally pleasing to taste or smell; especially delicious or fragrant.

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What is the origin of ambrosial?

The English adjective ambrosial comes from the Greek noun ambrosía “immortality; elixir of life, food of the gods.” (Néktar is “the drink of the gods, nectar”). The initial a– of ambrosía is a variant of the prefix an– meaning “not, without, lacking,” as in atheist or anarchy. The b in ambrosía is a glide consonant between the m and the r. The mro is a derivative of -, a variant of the very common Proto-Indo-European root mer-, mor-, – “to die.” The variant – is also the source of Latin mors (stem mort-) “death,” Morta “goddess of death,” and morī “to die,” Armenian mard “man,” Sanskrit mŗtá– “dead,” and Slavic (Polish) martwy “dead.” The root variant – regularly becomes mur– in the Germanic languages, yielding murder in English and Mord “murder” in German. The root variant mor– is the source of Greek mortós and Sanskrit márta– “human (being), mortal,” and Old Persian martiya– “mortal, man.” The root variant mer– is the source of Hittite mert “died.” Ambrosial entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is ambrosial used?

Her dishes were threaded through with the islands’ smoke and spice and with the ambrosial sweetness of tropical fruit …

Helen Rosner, "A New Orleans Chef Navigates Disaster," The New Yorker, August 28, 2020

He quickly sautes the preserved duck with wild onions, bathes it with a buttery white wine sauce, and tosses in the parboiled, bite-sized pasta and the glistening green fiddleheads. After a few ambrosial bites, I call it investigative journalism.

Charlotte Albright, "Fiddlehead: This Fern Is For Eating," NPR, May 29, 2009

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Word of the day

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

pother

[ poth-er ]

noun

a heated discussion, debate, or argument; fuss; to-do.

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What is the origin of pother?

All the authorities agree that pother “commotion, uproar; heated argument” has no reliable etymology; indeed, even the words that pother may be related to, like bother, have no trustworthy etymology. (The fact that an early citation of pother is spelled bother just makes things worse.) Pother originally rhymed with other and brother; it acquired its current pronunciation by the beginning of the 19th century.

how is pother used?

Yet what a pother is there of pismires over a grain of sand. But that grain of sand is their whole world.

George William Bagby, A Week in Hepsidam; Being the First and Only True Account of the Mountains, Men, Manners and Morals Thereof, 1879

“I don’t know what’s so very extraordinary about it, or why there should be such a pother,” he began; and he knew that he was insolently ignoring abundant reasons for pother, if there had been any pother. “Yes, I’m engaged.”

William Dean Howells, April Hopes, 1888

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Word of the day

Monday, November 23, 2020

ingenious

[ in-jeen-yuhs ]

adjective

cleverly inventive or resourceful.

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What is the origin of ingenious?

Ingenious comes from late Middle English ingenious “intelligent, resourceful, quick-witted,” from Old French ingenïos, engeignos, from Latin ingeniōsus “clever, talented, gifted.” Ingeniōsus is a derivative of the noun ingenium “natural disposition, temperament, mood; natural ability, cleverness,” and the adjectival suffix –ōsus, the source via Old French and Anglo-French of the English suffix –ous. Ingenious entered English in the second half of the 15th century.

how is ingenious used?

She was an ingenious inventor who planted a seed that would blossom into some of today’s most ubiquitous technology, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, cordless phones and cell phones.

Alice George, "Thank This World War II-Era Film Star for Your Wi-Fi," Smithsonian, April 4, 2019

Yet as ingenious as this inventor was, their toy did not spark a societal revolution.

Cody Cassidy, "Who Invented the Wheel? And How Did They Do It?" Wired, May 6, 2020

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