• Word of the day
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    Tuesday, June 26, 2018

    benedict

    noun [ben-i-dikt]
    a newly married man, especially one who has been long a bachelor.
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    What is the origin of benedict?

    Benedict is a familiar correction of Benedick (Benedicke), the former confirmed bachelor newly married in Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing (1600). Benedict as a common noun entered English in the 19th century.

    How is benedict used?

    It had, when I first went to town, just become the fashion for young men of fortune to keep house, and to give their bachelor establishments the importance hitherto reserved for the household of a Benedict. Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Devereux, 1829

    "Why are you so anxious for all England to be informed that you are a Benedict?" I enquired scornfully. Alan Dale, A Marriage Below Zero, 1889

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, June 25, 2018

    scupper

    verb [skuhp-er]
    British. Informal. to prevent from happening or succeeding; ruin; wreck.
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    What is the origin of scupper?

    The origin of the verb scupper is uncertain. It originated as military slang (“to surprise and slaughter; utterly defeat”). The verb scupper may be a development from the noun scupper “an opening in a ship's side even with the deck to allow water to flow away,” but the semantic development is unclear. Scupper entered English in the 19th century.

    How is scupper used?

    A row between the EEC and the US is threatening to scupper the UN Convention on the Ozone Layer, which was to have been agreed in Vienna next month. "Ozone agreement up in the air," New Scientist, February 7, 1985

    McMaster has tried to prevent his celebrity from scuppering his career. Patrick Radden Keefe, "McMaster and Commander," The New Yorker, April 30, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, June 24, 2018

    edentate

    adjective [ee-den-teyt]
    toothless.
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    What is the origin of edentate?

    Edentate means “lacking teeth, toothless,” a neutral term; it is also used in taxonomic names for an order of mammals lacking front teeth, e.g. sloths, armadillos, another neutral sense. The origin of edentate is the Latin adjective ēdentātus, the past participle of the verb ēdentāre “to knock (someone’s) teeth out,” definitely not a neutral sense. Edentate entered English in the 19th century.

    How is edentate used?

    As would have been the case a million years ago, a typical colonist can expect to be edentate by the time he or she is thirty years old, having suffered many skull-cracking toothaches on the way. Kurt Vonnegut, Galápagos, 1985

    Anyway, an edentate man led a bloated, mouth-foaming goat down a road webbed with knee-deep gullies. Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project, 2008

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, June 23, 2018

    backstairs

    adjective [bak-stairz]
    secret, underhanded, or scandalous: backstairs gossip.
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    What is the origin of backstairs?

    Backstairs was first recorded in 1635-45. It’s the adjectival extension of the noun back stairs.

    How is backstairs used?

    I say to Lord Hartington before you all, not by any backstairs intrigue and not by any secret negotiations, but in the face of this great meeting held in this great town and before all of England ... "Come over and help us!" Herbert Maxwell, "Lord Randolph Churchill," The National Review, Vol. XXV, March to August 1895

    He would never believe it--it was a nasty piece of backstairs gossip! Upton Sinclair, The Metropolis, 1908

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, June 22, 2018

    pellucid

    adjective [puh-loo-sid]
    clear in meaning, expression, or style: a pellucid way of writing.
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    What is the origin of pellucid?

    English pellucid comes from the Latin adjective pellūcidus (the usual Latin spelling is perlūcidus) “very clear, transparent.” The Latin adjective lūcidus is thoroughly naturalized in English lucid, but the Latin prefix and preposition per- is worth explanation. In Latin per- is used to intensify adjectives, adverbs, and verbs, e.g., perbonus “very good, excellent,” perbrevis “very short,” perbene “very well,” perbellē “very charmingly,” and percelebrāre “to make thoroughly known.” The Greek prefix and preposition perí- serves the same purpose, as in Periklês (c495-429 b.c.), the Athenian statesman, from the adjective perikleês “very famous.” Pellucid entered English in the 17th century.

    How is pellucid used?

    His art is highly complex, but its expression is so pellucid, so simple, that we can see only its body, never the mechanism of its body. Edward Garnett, "Introduction," The Novels of Ivan Turgenev, 1906

    Trump’s ramblings about Vladi­mir Putin were positively pellucid in their clarity compared with his March 29 comments on the U.S.-South Korea trade deal ... Max Boot, "What on earth is Trump saying?" Washington Post, April 11, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, June 21, 2018

    summerize

    verb [suhm-uh-rahyz]
    to prepare (a house, car, etc.) so as to counteract the hot weather of summer: to summerize a house by adding air conditioning.
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    What is the origin of summerize?

    In the late 18th century, summerize meant “to spend the summer,” a sense rarely used nowadays. In the mid-19th century in the U.S. in colloquial usage, summerize acquired its usual meaning “to prepare for summer.”

    How is summerize used?

    Swap out the stiff white shirt for button-downs in mellower colors. "If you’re in finance, it’s hard to make a big fashion statement, but this is a good way to summerize your wardrobe," says Coats. "7 stylish office looks for summer (including 4 that will cool off even the strictest of dress codes)," Forbes, June 7, 2017

    The spark plugs don't need to be changed for three years, and the motor can “summerize” itself by fogging the cylinders with oil when you put your machine away in the spring. Ezra Dyer, "Dashing Through the Snow," New York Times, January 29, 2009

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    thigmotropism

    noun [thig-mo-truh-piz-uhm]
    Biology. oriented growth of an organism in response to mechanical contact, as a plant tendril coiling around a string support.
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    What is the origin of thigmotropism?

    Thigmotropism is a very rare word, restricted to biology, especially botany. All three of the components of the word come from Greek: thígma means “a touch”; trópos and tropḗ are both nouns meaning “a turning, turn”; and -ism comes from the Greek suffixes -ismós, isma, used to form nouns denoting the result of an action. Thigmotropism entered English in the early 20th century.

    How is thigmotropism used?

    When touch is the stimulus, the response is thigmotropism. Positive thigmotropism occurs when a tendril touches an object and, by growing toward it, wraps around it. James D. Mauseth, Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology, 2009

    Thigmotropism is what makes a vine curl around a stake or an epiphyte cling to a branch in the wild. Deb Wandell, "Flora Grubb reinvents the plant stand with Thigmotrope Perch," San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 2015

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