Word of the Day

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

antepenultimate

[ an-tee-pi-nuhl-tuh-mit ]

adjective

third from the end.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of antepenultimate?

In its most general sense, antepenultimate means “third from the end.” In discussions of grammar and prosody, antepenultimate more often describes the third from last syllable in a word, as te in antepenult. Working backward on antepenultimate, ultimate means “the last, final” (as in ultimatum “the final, last-chance demand)”; pen– is from Latin paene “almost” (as in English peninsula “an almost island)”; ante– is the familiar English prefix meaning “before” (from the Latin preposition, adverb, and prefix ante, ante-). Antepenultimate entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is antepenultimate used?

Theresa May, in her antepenultimate day as the Conservative Party leader, had read an emotional passage from a letter …

Rebecca Mead, "A D Day Journey in the Spirit of A. J. Liebling," The New Yorker, June 7, 2019

this antepenultimate episode takes a softer tack, suggesting that cruel and horrible people can change if they really want to.

Allie Pape, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Recap: Nevada Pizza," Vulture, January 28, 2019

Listen to the word of the day

antepenultimate

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

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.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Augean

[ aw-jee-uhn ]

adjective

difficult and unpleasant: an Augean chore.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of Augean?

The English adjective Augean comes via Latin Augēus “of Augeas” (an adjective used only of King Augeas’ stables), from the proper name Augēās (mentioned in Latin only for the dung in his stables), from Greek Augeíās. Augeíās, whose name may be related to the adjective augḗeis “bright-eyed, clear-sighted,” a derivative of augḗ “light of the sun, ray, beam,” was the king of Elis (in the western Peloponnesus); his stables, filled with 3,000 immortal cattle, had not been cleaned for over 30 years. The cattle, moreover, were not only immortal but also divinely robust and healthy and therefore produced a prodigious amount of dung. Hercules’ fifth task was to clean the dung in Augeas’ stables, a task that was deliberately meant to be humiliating and impossible. Hercules cleansed the stables by diverting the river Alpheus through them. Augean entered English at the end of the 16th century.

how is Augean used?

Now, after an accumulation of filth for three months, the Spring thaw comes and an Augean task presents itself.

"Street-Cleaning and Common Sense," New York Times, March 23, 1881

Augean jobs were deliberately assigned to him, tasks of almost unhearable tedium—immense bales of spinach to trim alone—in the expectation that he would muster a chef’s endurance or quit.

John McPhee, "A Philosopher in the Kitchen," The New Yorker, February 12, 1979

Listen to the word of the day

Augean

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Monday, June 15, 2020

dilly

[ dil-ee ]

noun

Informal.

something or someone regarded as remarkable, unusual, etc.: a dilly of a movie.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of dilly?

The noun and adjective dilly, like many slang terms, has an obscure etymology. One etymology is that dilly is an alteration of delightful or delicious; the suffix –y is either the native English adjective suffix –y (as in juicy), or the originally Scottish noun suffix –y (as in granny). Dilly was originally an Americanism, first appearing in print in the early 20th century.

how is dilly used?

It would be a dilly of a painting.

Susan Vreeland, The Forest Lover, 2004

The two big numbers, and they were dillies, were “La Toilette de la Cour” by Anthony Philip Heinrich, and Albert Gehring’s “The Soul of Chopin.”

Harold C. Schonberg, "Tidbits of Forgotten Music Evoke an American Past," New York Times, May 25, 1973

Listen to the word of the day

dilly

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

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.