Word of the Day

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

argy-bargy

[ ahr-gee-bahr-gee ]

noun

Chiefly British.

a vigorous discussion or dispute.

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What is the origin of argy-bargy?

Argy-bargy, “a vigorous discussion, dispute,” appears in print in 1887, just 15 years after its “original,” argle-bargle. The argle of argle-bargle is a variant of argue. Yet another variant, argue-bargue, which gives away the entire etymology, appears in 1906. Argle entered English towards the end of the 16th century; its offspring all date from the second half of the 19th century.

how is argy-bargy used?

There appears to have ensued more than two decades of argy-bargy over where the new hall should be located, during which time the merchants would meet at the Chamber of Commerce premises.

Nuala Naughton, Glasgow's East End, 2014

On the international scene, he can only be reassured by the strident argy-bargy between Moscow and Peking, despite some pundits’ predictions that the U.S. stand in Viet Nam could only induce harmony between the two great Communist powers.

"The War: The Greatest Drama," Time, April 1, 1966

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Monday, September 28, 2020

avow

[ uh-vou ]

verb (used with object)

to declare frankly or openly; own; acknowledge; confess; admit: He avowed himself an opponent of all alliances.

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What is the origin of avow?

Avow, “to declare openly, acknowledge, admit,” has always had a formal air, a solemnity about it. It comes from Middle English avouen, advouen, awouen, from Old French avo(u)er, a regular phonetic development of Latin advocāre “to call upon, summon (assistance), convoke” (whose past participle advocātus is the source of the English verb and noun advocate). Advocāre is composed of the overworked preposition and prefix ad, ad- “to, toward” and the verb vocāre “to call,” a derivative of the noun vox, stem vōc- “voice, human voice.” Avow entered English in the 13th century.

how is avow used?

Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write?

Rainer Maria Rilke, "The First Letter: February 17, 1903," Letters to a Young Poet, translated by Joan M. Burnham, 2000

Scott achieved fame (and a baronetcy) as a poet, but he did not avow authorship of his novels until relatively late in his career.

David Lodge, "Dickens Our Contemporary," The Atlantic, May 2020

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Sunday, September 27, 2020

illation

[ ih-ley-shuhn ]

noun

an inference; conclusion.

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What is the origin of illation?

Illation, “drawing an inference or conclusion,” is one of the meanings of the Late Latin noun illātiō (inflectional stem illātiōn-), literally, “a carrying in, a bringing in”; its other meanings include “burial, interment” and “impost or duty.” Illātiō is the noun that corresponds to the Latin verb inferre “to bring, bring into, conclude, infer.” Just as English uses better and best as the comparative and superlative of good, and went as the past tense of go (a process called suppletion), so Latin uses lātus as the past participle of ferre and its derivatives; thus the verbal noun of the verb inferre is illātiō (or inlātiō). Illation entered English in the 16th century.

how is illation used?

Such an illation seems to Croce without foundation and disastrous for the authentic history of that land.

A. Robert Caponigri, History and Liberty: The Historical Writings of Benedetto Croce, 1955

For those that are not men of art, not knowing the true forms of syllogism, nor the reasons of them, cannot know whether they are made in right and conclusive modes and figures or no, and so are not at all helped by the forms they are put into; though by them the natural order, wherein the mind could judge of their respective connexion, being disturbed, renders the illation much more uncertain than without them.

John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689

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