Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

anorak

[ an-uh-rak, ah-nuh-rahk ]

noun

a hooded pullover jacket originally made of fur and worn in the Arctic, now made of any weather-resistant fabric.

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What is the origin of anorak?

Anorak “a hooded pullover jacket made of fur” is an adaptation of Greenlandic Inuit annoraaq. Though anoraks were originally made from fur, over the past century, additional fabric options have emerged as alternatives. The Inuit groups of Greenland developed anoraks, while parkas, which are similar garments, arose among the peoples of northern Russia who speak one of the Nenets languages. An additional sense of anorak in British slang—and a very specific sense at that—refers to socially awkward people who are passionate about hobbies that others find tedious. Anorak was first recorded in English in the early 1920s.

how is anorak used?

On an early morning last June, I hit the streets of Lyme Regis dressed in a borrowed pair of Wellington boots and an anorak, hood cinched around my face against a cold wind. Sheets of rain had turned the steep streets of the historic town into rivulets, and the surrounding hilltops were shrouded in a dense, milky fog, known locally as Rousdon Mist. It was high summer on England’s southwest coast.

David Shaftel, “Searching for Dinosaurs in a Seaside English Town,” New York Times, May 23, 2018

The actor Richard Madden, all in black, fastened a punctilious safety pin on his lapel, while the singer Frank Ocean wore a nylon Prada anorak that transformed him into a backpack. Elegance is refusal.

Troy Patterson, "The Best-Dressed Men at the Met Gala 2019: Risking Foolishness, Arriving at Defiant Good Taste," The New Yorker, May 7, 2019

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Word of the day

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

epilogue

[ ep-uh-lawg, -log ]

noun

a concluding part added to a literary work, as a novel.

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What is the origin of epilogue?

Epilogue “a concluding part added to a literary work” derives via Middle English and Latin from Ancient Greek epílogos “conclusion of a speech,” a compound of the preposition epí “in addition to, over, on” and the noun lógos “word.” While an epilogue comes at the end of a book, a prologue comes at the beginning. The element epí, appearing in English as the prefix epi-, is also found in terms such as epidemic, originally meaning “among the people,” and epidermis, originally meaning “on the skin.” Lógos comes from the verb légein “to gather, choose, speak” and is the source of words such as apology, dialogue, and logarithm; this noun is also the source of the combining form -logy “science,” as in biology, geology, and zoology. Epilogue was first recorded in English at the turn of the 15th century.

how is epilogue used?

Some great English Victorian novels also have epilogues. The epilogue of George Eliot’s Adam Bede takes us forward by more than seven years to show the appropriate fates of its chief characters .… Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone has an epilogue that satisfyingly brings his narrative full circle. The mystery of the Moonstone’s theft has been solved. In the epilogue we hear how this fabulous diamond is restored to the Indian idol from which it was taken in the novel’s Prologue.

John Mullan, How Novels Work, 2006

The Stand [miniseries] ruined some of Stephen King’s best villains and left the heroes with little to do, which makes it surprising that the writer himself almost saved the series in a single episode. King penned the final episode of The Stand, a new epilogue that takes place after the action of the story proper, and it’s tense, terrifying, thoughtful, and hopeful—everything 2020’s The Stand failed to be until its finale.

Cathal Gunning, "Stephen King Almost Saved 2020’s The Stand Miniseries," Screen Rant, November 6, 2021

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Word of the day

Monday, November 29, 2021

nebbish

[ neb-ish ]

noun

a pitifully ineffectual, luckless, and timid person.

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What is the origin of nebbish?

Nebbish “a pitifully ineffectual person” is a variant of the Yiddish term nebekh “poor, unfortunate.” Unlike the majority of words in Yiddish, which are of Germanic extraction, nebekh is most likely from a Slavic source such as Czech nebohý “poor.” The original meaning of this Slavic source was “unendowed,” and it derived from a negative prefix (compare English not and non-) and the Proto-Indo-European root bhag- “to share, apportion.” This same root is also found in Ancient Greek phagein “to eat,” as in esophagus. Nebbish was first recorded in English in the early 1890s.

how is nebbish used?

The ability to make a nebbish of ourselves is given to all of us. Some exist with this condition on a permanent basis; others can just turn it on at will. … Of course, being on the fortunate, effectual side of the nebbish equation is always preferable to being on the “wrong” side of nebbishness. But I daresay that all of us have, at one time or another, felt the discomfort and humiliation of acting like a nebbish, wishing that the earth would open up and swallow us, whole.

Allen Unger, The Nebbish Principle, 2002

On Nov. 19, Skylight opens “Little Shop of Horrors,” the Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical that blends comedy and horror through a score that draws on pre-Beatles rock, doo-wop and Motownish sounds. Sievert plays Seymour, the lovestruck florist-shop nebbish who unexpectedly becomes the caretaker of a carnivorous and increasingly hungry hunk of vegetation.

Jim Higgins, "Kevin James Sievert brings a sweet voice to Skylight Music Theatre's 'Little Shop of Horrors,'" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 15, 2021

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