Word of the Day

Thursday, February 14, 2019

attractancy

[ uh-trak-tuhn-see ]

noun

the capacity, especially of a pheromone, to attract.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of attractancy?

Attractant is to attractance and attractancy as repellent is to repellence and repellency. Both sets of words are used mostly in biochemistry to describe chemicals, such as pheromones or insectifuges, that attract, drive away, or affect the behavior of other creatures. Attractancy entered English in the 20th century.

how is attractancy used?

From these various investigations it became very clear that numerous components of the cotton plant had some attractancy for the boll weevil, although their effects were often short-ranged.

Richard L. Ridgway, May N. Inscoe, and Willard A. Dickerson, "Role of the Boll Weevil Pheromone in Pest Management," Behavior-Modifying Chemicals for Insect Management, 1990

The attractancy of the brown-rot fungus was discovered by Dr. Glenn Esenther, an entomologist at the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin.

T. Allan Wolter, "Your Wayne National Forest," Sunday Times-Sentinel, July 27, 1975
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.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

synastry

[ si-nas-tree, sin-uh-stree ]

noun

Astrology. the comparison of two or more natal charts in order to analyze or forecast the interaction of the individuals involved.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of synastry?

English synastry is an astrological term coming ultimately from Greek synastría, a noun compounded of the Greek preposition and prefix syn, syn- “with,” completely naturalized in English, the Greek noun ástro(n) “star,” familiar in astronomy, astronaut, and astrology, and the abstract noun suffix -ia, which is also native to Latin, becoming the noun suffix -y in English. Synastry entered English in the 17th century.

how is synastry used?

… she matches people according to chart comparison, a branch of astrology called Synastry.

Rick Smith, "Astrologer makes matches in heavens," The Daily Reporter, April 9, 1984

I find this sad because the synastry was really pretty good.

Eugenia Last, "The Last Word in Astrology," The Register-Guard, June 7, 1997
Tuesday, February 12, 2019

marvy

[ mahr-vee ]

adjective

Slang. marvelous; delightful.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of marvy?

Marvy is in origin an American slang term, a shortening of marvelous and the very common adjective suffix -y. Marvy first entered English in the 1930s.

how is marvy used?

You havent heard of privatizing? That’s this fantastically with-it idea the Reagan circle has for getting the government out of government. Isn’t that too marvy?

Russell Baker, "Such a Marvy Idea," New York Times, January 8, 1986

The 22-way adjustable driver seat was marvy.

Dan Neil, "Bentley Bentayga: The Ultimate Luxury SUV," Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2016
Monday, February 11, 2019

amphiscians

[ am-fish-ee-uhnz, -fish-uhnz ]

plural noun

Archaic. inhabitants of the tropics.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of amphiscians?

Amphiscians is an altogether strange word, at least in its meaning. The English word, a plural noun, comes from Medieval Latin Amphisciī “those who cast a shadow on both sides,” i.e., in the tropics a person’s shadow will fall towards the north or towards the south depending on whether the sun is above or below the equator. Amphisciī is a straightforward borrowing of Greek amphískioi (a plural adjective used as a noun) “casting a shadow or shadowy on both sides,” formed from the preposition and prefix amphí, amphi- “around, about” (akin to Latin ambi- with the same meaning) and the noun skiá “shadow, shade, specter” (from the same Proto-Indo-European root from which English has shine). (Heteroscians is, of course, the opposite of amphiscians.) Amphiscians entered English in the 17th century.

how is amphiscians used?

The amphiscians, whose noon shadows fall on both sides, are the people who live between the two tropics, in the region which the ancients call the middle zone.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543), On the Revolutions, translated by Edward Rosen, 1978

Are we not similar to those amphiscians / whose shadows fall at one season to the north, / but at another to the south?

Evan S. Connell, Notes from a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel, 1962
Sunday, February 10, 2019

prebuttal

[ pri-buht-l, pree- ]

noun

an argument constructed in anticipation of a criticism: The alderman began his speech with a question-answer style prebuttal.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of prebuttal?

Prebuttal is a clever combination of the prefix pre- “before” and (re)buttal. It is equivalent to the Latin rhetorical term prolēpsis “anticipation in the form of a brief summary” or Late Latin procatalēpsis “anticipation and rebuttal of an opponent’s arguments,” a borrowing from Greek prolēpsis “(in rhetoric) anticipation” and prokatálēpsis “anticipation and rebuttal of an opponent’s arguments.” Former Vice President Al Gore seems to be the first person to use prebuttal in 1996.

how is prebuttal used?

President Clinton’s White House and campaign team have been drawing favorable reviews for their rapid response operation and penchant for picking off issues before Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) even gets his TelePrompTer warmed up. Vice President Gore calls it “prebuttal.”

Dan Balz, Washington Post, May 26, 1996

Both in the short term and for posterity, Sotomayor’s work will serve as a prebuttal to what Chief Justice John Roberts and company are poised to do.

Andrew Cohen, "Sonia Sotomayor and the Real Lessons of Affirmative Action," Atlantic, January 11, 2013
Saturday, February 09, 2019

inculpate

[ in-kuhl-peyt, in-kuhl-peyt ]

verb

to involve in a charge; incriminate.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of inculpate?

Inculpate, like inflammable, is capable of two opposite meanings depending on whether you take in- to be a negative prefix (from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-) or an intensive prefix. If in- is the negative prefix, then inculpate means “unblamed, blameless,” the only meaning of the Latin inculpātus and a meaning that inculpate had in (and only in) 17th-century English. Likewise inflammable would mean “not flammable,” a very common mistake in modern English. The in- in inculpate and inflammable is in fact the intensive in-; Late Latin inculpāre means “to blame”; inflammāre means “to set on fire.” The Romans, too, were confused by the two different prefixes: inaudīre (in- here the intensive prefix) means “to catch the sound of, get wind of, hear”; its past participle inaudītus (in- here the negative prefix) means “unheard, unheard of, not listened to.” Inculpate in the sense “to blame” entered English in the late 18th century.

how is inculpate used?

Then someone came into your room and placed the pistol there in order to inculpate you.

Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Problem of Thor Bridge," The Strand Magazine, Volume 63, 1922

Their job was simply to get as much information as possible, which, along with corroborating evidence, would either inculpate the suspect or set him free.

Douglas Starr, "The Interview," The New Yorker, December 9, 2013
Friday, February 08, 2019

roborant

[ rob-er-uhnt ]

adjective

strengthening.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of roborant?

Roborant comes from Latin rōborant- (the stem of rōborāns), present participle of rōborāre “to strengthen, invigorate,” a derivative of the noun rōbor (stem rōbur-) “oak, oak tree.” From rōborāre Latin forms corrōborāre “to strengthen, harden” (English corroborate). Latin also has an archaic form rōbus for rōbur, and the archaic form clearly shows the source of Latin rōbustus “strong, powerful” (English robust). The Latin noun rōbus is akin to the adjective rōbus “red” and dialectal rūfus “light red, fox red” (English rufous), the noun rōbīgō (also rūbīgō), stem rōbīgin- (rūbīgin-) “rust,” and its derivative adjective rōbīginōsus “rusty” (English rubiginous). Roborant entered English in the 17th century.

how is roborant used?

… they put him to bed in the rest room, where the doctor gave him a roborant injection.

Thomas Glavinic, Carl Haffner's Love of the Draw, translated by John Brownjohn, 1999

The label, designed for the English speaking market, gives this description of its virtues: “Nutritious and roborant: promoting the brain and recovering the memory: strengthening the organs and systems of generations.”

Jack Anderson, "Fat Cats Show They Care," Daytona Beach Morning Journal, Saturday October 7, 1972

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.