Word of the Day

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

atweel

[ uh-tweel, at-weel ]

adverb

Scot. surely.

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What is the origin of atweel?

Atweel is an alteration and contraction of Scots (I) wat weel, (I) wot well in standard if archaic English, meaning (I) know well in modern standard English. Unsurprisingly, atweel is found only in Scottish authors, the two most famous being Robert Burns (1759–1796) and Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832). Atweel entered English in the 18th century.

how is atweel used?

Atweel, I can do that, and help her to buy her parapharnauls.

John Galt, The Entail, 1823

Atweel, I dinna ken yet.

George MacDonald, Robert Falconer, 1868
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Monday, September 10, 2018

tautology

[ taw-tol-uh-jee ]

noun

needless repetition of an idea, especially in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness, as in “widow woman.”

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What is the origin of tautology?

Tautology comes from Late Latin tautologia, a borrowing of a Hellenistic Greek rhetorical term tautología “repetition of something already said.” The second half of tautology is clear enough, being the same suffix as in theology or philology. The first element tauto- needs some clarification: it comes from tò autó “the same,” formed from the neuter singular of the definite article and the third person pronoun (the combination of tò autó to tautó is called krâsis “mixture,” which appears in idiosyncrasy “personal temperament”—a “personal blend” as it were. Tautology entered English in the 16th century.

how is tautology used?

Take away perspective and you are stranded in a universal present, something akin, weirdly, to the unhistoried — and, at the risk of tautology, perspective-less — art of the Middle Ages.

Geoff Dyer, "Andreas Gursky's photos visually articulate the world around us, framing modern society," Los Angeles Times, October 17, 2015

… the central moral question is whether we are going to use the language of tautology and self-justification – one that gives us alone the right to be called reasonable and human – or whether we labour to discover other ways of speaking and imagining.

Rowan Williams, "What Orwell can teach us about the language of terror and war," The Guardian, December 12, 2015
Sunday, September 09, 2018

sweeting

[ swee-ting ]

noun

a sweet variety of apple.

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What is the origin of sweeting?

Sweeting is an obvious noun formed from the adjective sweet and the noun suffix -ing “one belonging to, descended from.” The sense “sweetheart,” not used nowadays, dates from about 1300; the sense “a variety of sweet apple” dates from the 16th century.

how is sweeting used?

… I do give her the frut of two appel trees one a sweeting ye nothermost of ye sweetings in ye Lower yard and ye westermost tree by ye highway.

, "A Trip to Old Harwich," The Owl, September 1903

They be not righteous actions that make a righteous man; nor be they evil actions that make a wicked man: for a tree must be a sweeting tree before it yield sweetings; and a crab tree before it bring forth crabs.

John Bunyan, A Discourse Upon the Pharisee and the Publican, 1685

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