Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

balladmonger

[ bal-uhd-muhng-ger, -mong- ]

noun

an inferior poet.

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What is the origin of balladmonger?

Shakespeare (1564-1616) is the first recorded author to use balladmonger, a compound noun that has nearly always had a belittling or depreciatory sense. Monger is a common Germanic word derived from Latin mangō, “a slave trader; a merchant who adorns or decorates inferior wares to make them look more attractive.” From the Old English period even until the 20th century, monger has had positive connotations, but beginning in the mid-16th century monger and its derivative compounds frequently have had a negative connotation. For example, ironmonger “a merchant or dealer in iron and hardware,” first recorded in the 12th century, is neutral, but Mark Twain’s coinage superstition-monger is certainly depreciatory. Balladmonger entered English in the late 16th century.

how is balladmonger used?

I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew, Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers

William Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part 1, 1598

That sounds like a cheap balladmonger‘s gibe, Richard.

Norah Lofts, The Lute Player, 1951
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Word of the day

Monday, April 09, 2018

mea culpa

[ mey-uh kuhl-puh, mee-uh ]

noun

an acknowledgment of one's responsibility for a fault or error.

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What is the origin of mea culpa?

Aging Roman Catholics who were altar boys before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) can recite from memory the formula from the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass: meā culpā, meā culpā, meā maximā culpā, traditionally translated “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” The Latin phrase was first used in the 13th century as an exclamation or interjection. The noun use of mea culpa, “acknowledgment of responsibility or guilt,” arose in the 19th century.

how is mea culpa used?

Facebook was reluctant, however, to issue any mea culpas or action plans with regard to the problem of filter bubbles or Facebook’s noted propensity to serve as a tool for amplifying outrage.

Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, "Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebook--and the World," Wired, February 12, 2018

Only later on are they willing to strike a bargain with him: a refuge for a mea culpa.

Paul West, A Fifth of November, 2001

Word of the day

Sunday, April 08, 2018

truckle

[ truhk-uhl ]

verb

to submit or yield obsequiously or tamely (usually followed by to): Don't truckle to unreasonable demands.

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What is the origin of truckle?

The noun truckle originally (in the early 15th century) meant “a small wheel with a groove around its circumference for a cord or rope to run.” Later in the same century, truckle also had the meaning “a small wheel or roller placed under a heavy object to help move it.” In the 17th century truckle was short for truckle bed or trundle bed, i.e., a low bed moving on casters and usually stored under a larger bed. It is from this last sense, the supine sense, as it were, that truckle acquired its current meaning “to yield or submit meekly” in the 17th century.

how is truckle used?

If anything, having professionals serve who remember that their oath is to support and defend the Constitution—and not to truckle to an individual or his clique—will be more important than ever.

Eliot Cohen, "To An Anxious Friend," The American Interest, November 10, 2016

By refusing to truckle to power, by adopting Afro-centric stylings and proclaiming that black really was beautiful, she became a heroine for generations of African American women.

Louis Bayard, "Book Review of 'Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone,' by Nadine Cohodas," Washington Post, February 28, 2010

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