Word of the Day

Saturday, July 14, 2018

amour-propre

[ a-moor-praw-pruh ]

noun

French. self-esteem; self-respect.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of amour-propre?

The French compound noun amour-propre, literally “self-love, self-regard,” is associated especially with the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78), but the phrase is found earlier in the works of Blaise Pascal (1623-62) and François de La Rochefoucauld (1613-80). For Rousseau amour-propre is self-love or self-esteem dependent upon the good opinion of others, as opposed to amour de soi, which also means “self-love” but is directed solely toward one’s own well-being and is not dependent upon the good opinion of others. The English lexicographer Henry W. Fowler (1858-1933), in his A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), acidly comments about amour-propre, “Vanity usually gives the meaning as well, &, if as well, then better.” Amour-propre entered English in the 18th century.

how is amour-propre used?

From the faces round him there fell that glamour by which the amour propre is held captive in large assemblies, where the amour propre is flattered.

Edward Bulwar-Lytton, What Will He Do with It?, 1858

Whatever might be the urgings of his amour propre, in his opinion he had a professional duty to tell the client his findings.

Louis Begley, Matters of Honor, 2007
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.
Friday, July 13, 2018

vitiate

[ vish-ee-eyt ]

verb

to impair or weaken the effectiveness of.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of vitiate?

The English verb vitiate comes directly from the Latin past participle vitiātus “spoiled, impaired,” from the verb vitiāre, which is a derivative of the noun vitium “defect, fault,” a word of uncertain etymology. Vitium is the source of Old French vice, English vice. Vitiate entered English in the 15th century.

how is vitiate used?

… some infinitesimal excess or deficiency, some minute accession of heat or cold, some chance adulteration in this or that ingredient, can vitiate a whole course of inquiry, requiring the labour of weeks to be all begun again …

Charles Lever, One of Them, 1861

In his mad odyssey through the dark side — waterboarding, secret rendition, indefinite detention, unnecessary war and manipulation of C.I.A. analysis — Dick Cheney did his best to vitiate our system of checks and balances. His nefarious work is still warping our intelligence system more than a decade later.

Maureen Dowd, "The Spies Who Didn't Love Her," New York Times, March 11, 2014
Thursday, July 12, 2018

eggbeater

[ eg-bee-ter ]

noun

Slang. a helicopter.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of eggbeater?

Eggbeater in the sense “small, hand-operated rotary appliance used for beating eggs” has existed in English since the 1830s. Eggbeater in the sense “helicopter” was originally an American slang term used by pilots of fixed-wing aircraft for the newfangled helicopter, the rotary action of whose blades looked to them somewhat like the rotary action of the familiar kitchen appliance. Eggbeater in the aircraft sense dates from the 1930s.

how is eggbeater used?

With all aboard, the door of the egg-beater was closed.

Harry Lever, "Helicopter Ambulance," Flying, April 1953

Just keep that eggbeater you’re flying below sixty-five thousand feet and you’ll be just fine.

Dick Couch and George Galdorisi, Out of the Ashes, 2014

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.