Word of the Day

Friday, September 28, 2018

applesauce

[ ap-uhl-saws ]

noun

Slang. nonsense; bunk.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of applesauce?

Applesauce is a straightforward compound noun. The original sense is first recorded in the 17th century. The American slang term first appears in Ring Lardner (1885–1933) and then in the novel Appointment in Samarra (1934) by John O’Hara (1905–70).

how is applesauce used?

Nonsense! Fiddlesticks! Baloney! Phoo! Poo! Poppycock! Bah! Twaddle! Don’t be silly! My eye! In your hat! That’s pure applesauce!

Dean Koontz, Life Expectancy, 2004

The opinion offers several new candidates for a master list of Scalia’s best turns-of-phrase, which should be published as a book as far as we are concerned. One example: the majority’s reasoning? “Pure applesauce,” he wrote.

Elise Viebeck, "Scalia on King ruling: 'Pure applesauce'," Washington Post, June 25, 2015
WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ
Put your wits to the test! New quizzes added weekly.
TAKE THE QUIZ
ALEXA, ENABLE DICTIONARY.COM
Now you can ask Alexa what the Word of the Day is at any time.
ENABLE ALEXA

SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL

Get the Word of the Day delivered daily
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Thursday, September 27, 2018

gnathonic

[ na-thon-ik ]

adjective

sycophantic; fawning.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of gnathonic?

The English adjective gnathonic comes from Latin gnathōnicus, an adjective derivative of Gnathō (inflectional stem Gnathōn-), the name of a sycophant and parasite in Eunuchus, a comedy by the Latin playwright Terence (Publius Terentius Afer, c190–c159 b.c.). Terence also coined the derivative plural noun Gnathōnicī “disciples of Gnatho” as a comic general term for sycophants and parasites. Gnathonic entered English in the 17th century.

how is gnathonic used?

That Jack’s is somewhat of a gnathonic and parasitic soul, or stomach, all Bideford apple-women know …

Charles Kingsley, Westward Ho!, 1855

… Pandarus is not unlike familiar gnathonic persons who attach themselves to their betters, as he does both in his defense of Paris ad in his eagerness to satisfy the appetities [sic] of his prince.

D. W. Robertson Jr., "The Probable Date and Purpose of Chaucer's Troilus," Medievalia et Humanistica, No. 13, 1985
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

blellum

[ blel-uhm ]

noun

Scot. Obsolete. an idle, indiscreet talker.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of blellum?

Not only does blellum not have an etymology, it has very few citations. One of which is in the poem Tam o’Shanter (1790) by Robert Burns (1759–96); so it’s a keeper.

how is blellum used?

A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum

Robert Burns, "Tam o' Shanter," The Edinburgh Herald, March 18, 1791

How was ye to foresee that Mr. Manners was a blellum?

Winston Churchill, Richard Carvel, 1899
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

toyetic

[ taw-yet-ik ]

adjective

(of a character or object from a movie, TV show, etc.) potentially marketable as a toy: a toyetic superhero.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of toyetic?

Toyetic, an obvious composition of toy and the adjective suffix -etic, was supposedly coined by the American toy developer and marketer Bernard Loomis (1923–2006) in a conversation with Steven Spielberg about making figures based on Spielberg’s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

how is toyetic used?

There’s a singular pleasure that comes with holding a Star Wars toy. The film’s vehicles, weapons, heroes, and villains, after all, are uniquely “toyetic” …

Melissa Leon, "How 'Star Wars' Revolutionized the Toy Industry," The Daily Beast, January 1, 2018

It adds another powerhouse toyetic property to their portfolio, with a proven track record of success.

Rob Salkowitz, "Hasbro Powers Up, Acquiring Power Rangers From Saban For $522 Million," Forbes, May 1, 2018
Monday, September 24, 2018

sibilate

[ sib-uh-leyt ]

verb

to utter or pronounce with a hissing sound.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of sibilate?

Sibilate comes from Latin sībilātus, past participle of the verb sībilāre “to hiss, hiss in disapproval.” From sībilant-, the present participle stem of sībilāre, English has the noun and adjective sibilant, used in phonetics in reference to hissing sounds like s or z. Sibilate entered English in the 17th century.

how is sibilate used?

It may be that there is some mysterious significance in the pitch at which an idea is vocalized; but, as for this writer, we doubt if it makes any difference whether he sibilates his opinions to himself in half-suppressed demi-semiquavers, or roars them to the world through a fog-trumpet–their obliquity may safely be assumed as a constant quantity.

E. L. Youmans, "Herbert Spencer's Sociology," Appletons' Journal, February 21, 1874

“I’ve been in for twenty years,” he sibilates in my ear.

Kevin Dutton, The Wisdom of Psychopaths, 2012
Sunday, September 23, 2018

legerdemain

[ lej-er-duh-meyn ]

noun

trickery; deception.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of legerdemain?

There are about 50 spellings in Middle English for (modern) legerdemain. The English word most likely comes from a Middle French phrase leger de main “light of hand,” which is unfortunately unrecorded. Middle French has two similar idioms meaning “to be dexterous”: estre ligier de sa main, literally “to be light of his hand” and avoir la main legiere, literally “to have the light hand.” In English, legerdemain first meant “skill in conjuring, sleight of hand” and acquired the sense “trickery, artful deception” in the 16th century. Legerdemain entered English in the 15th century.

how is legerdemain used?

… it was precisely that sort of legerdemain—tapping a dicey loan with the magic wand of financialization—which built the mortgage-securitization industry to begin with.

Tad Friend, "Home Economics," The New Yorker, February 4, 2013

The city today stretches out along the flatlands by the Fyris River, then ripples up a glacial ridge, culminating in a massive sixteenth-century castle painted the color of a poached salmon—a bit of legerdemain by pigment that leavens the bulky fortress considerably.

Emily Hiestand, "The Constant Gardener," The Atlantic, March 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2018

polychromatic

[ pol-ee-kroh-mat-ik, -kruh- ]

adjective

having or exhibiting a variety of colors.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of polychromatic?

English polychromatic is a borrowing from French polychromatique, which comes from Greek polychrṓmatos “many-colored, variegated” and the suffix -ique, from the Greek suffix -ikos or the Latin suffix -icus. Polychromatic is used mostly, but not exclusively, in the physical sciences, e.g., hematology, physics, and formerly in chemistry. Polychromatic entered English in the 19th century.

how is polychromatic used?

… the degreening of leaves is a widely appreciated natural phenomenon, especially in autumn, when the foliage of deciduous trees turns into polychromatic beauty.

S. Hörtensteiner and P. Matile, "How Leaves Turn Yellow: Catabolism of Chlorophyll," Plant Cell Death Processes, 2004

Throughout, Suzy Lee’s polychromatic illustrations astonish. Each page bursts with color.

Carmela Ciuraru, "'A Dog Day,' 'Ask Me' and 'Sidewalk Flowers'," New York Times, July 10, 2015

SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL

Get the Word of the Day delivered daily
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.