Word of the Day

Thursday, December 06, 2018

athenaeum

[ ath-uh-nee-uhm, -ney- ]

noun

a library or reading room.

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What is the origin of athenaeum?

Athenaeum ultimately derives from Greek Athḗnaion, the name of the temple of Athena in ancient Athens where poets read their works. It entered English in the 1720s.

how is athenaeum used?

The back of his state-issued S.U.V. is stacked with notebooks filled with ideas and data culled from books and articles and conversations with nearly four hundred experts; it’s a kind of rolling athenaeum.

Tad Friend, "Gavin Newsom, the Next Head of the California Resistance," The New Yorker, November 5, 2018

At the top of the main staircase, with patterned risers and leather-covered treads, a bedroom was turned into the Athenaeum, or classical library.

Julie Lasky, "A Victorian Wonderland in Park Slope," New York Times, March 16, 2018
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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

postiche

[ paw-steesh, po- ]

noun

a false hairpiece.

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What is the origin of postiche?

Postiche, like many cultural terms derived from the Romance languages, has a complicated etymology, what with the borrowing and lending of forms and meanings between Latin, Late Latin, Medieval Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The English word postiche, from French postiche, has two original meanings: as an adjective, it is a term used in architecture and sculpture and means “added on, especially inappropriately; artificial, counterfeit”; as a noun, it means “a hairpiece made of false hair.” The French word may come from Spanish postizo “artificial, substitute,” or from Italian posticcio with the same meanings. The Spanish and Italian forms most likely derive from Late Latin apposticius “placed beside or on” (and equivalent to Latin appositus “adjacent, near at hand, suitable”).

how is postiche used?

… the Goulet postiche is guaranteed to blend imperceptibly with the wearer’s own hair, for I refuse to settle for anything less than a perfect match.

Catherine Chidgey, The Transformation, 2003

… when the hair had been thoroughly dyed it could only recover its natural colour by this slow process, but that usually the effect was concealed by a postiche

Laurence Oliphant, Piccadilly, 1870
Tuesday, December 04, 2018

brusquerie

[ broos-kuh-ree ]

noun

abruptness and bluntness in manner; brusqueness.

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What is the origin of brusquerie?

Brusquerie, which still feels like a French word, is a derivative of the adjective brusque. The French adjective comes from Italian brusco “rough, tart,” a special use of the noun brusco “butcher’s broom” (the name of a shrub). Brusco may come from Latin bruscum “a knot or growth on a maple tree”; or brusco may be a conflation of Latin ruscus, ruscum “butcher’s broom” and Vulgar Latin brūcus “heather.” Brusquerie entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is brusquerie used?

… I could see that she was doing her best to irritate me with the brusquerie of her answers.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Gambler (1866), translated by C. J. Hogarth, 1917

I hope you have not been so foolish as to take offence at any little brusquerie of mine …

Edgar Allan Poe, "The Gold-Bug," Philadelphia Dollar Magazine, 1843

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