Word of the Day

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

benighted

[ bih-nahy-tid ]

adjective

intellectually or morally ignorant; unenlightened: benighted ages of barbarism and superstition.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of benighted?

Benighted originally meant, in the 16th century, “overtaken by darkness before one has reached home, lodging, or safety.” Its only modern sense, “intellectually or morally ignorant,” dates from the 17th century.

how is benighted used?

Beyond that, the continued association of pregnancy with sickness perpetuates the benighted notion of childbearing as a threat to ordinary human experience when many would argue that it is the singular manifestation of it.

Ginia Bellafante, "Paid Parental Leave, Except for Most Who Need It," New York Times, December 1, 2017

… it is difficult to have a reasonable conversation with someone who makes no secret about the fact that he thinks you are both benighted and stupid.

Bruce Franzese, "The Conversation," The Atlantic, November 2017
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

ergophobia

[ ur-guh-foh-bee-uh ]

noun

an abnormal fear of work; an aversion to work.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of ergophobia?

Ergophobia, “abnormal fear of or aversion to work,” is formed from two Greek nouns commonly used to form words in English: érgon “work” and the combining form -phobía “fear.” Greek dialects preserve the original form wérgon, which comes directly from Proto-Indo-European wérgom, the source of Germanic werkam (English work). The combining form -phobía is a derivative of phóbos “flight, fear, panic fear,” from Proto-Indo-European bhógwos, a derivative of the root bhegw- “to run,” which appears in Slavic (Polish) biegać “to run.” Ergophobia entered English in the early 20th century.

how is ergophobia used?

He was examined by Dr. Wilson, who diagnosed the disease which had attacked him as ergophobia, (fear of work.)

, "Bad Case of Ergophobia," New York Times, October 13, 1907

Doctor, I thank thee for the name / That dignifies my soul’s complaint, / That silences the voice of blame, / That frees me from the toiler’s taint, / That lets me loaf the livelong day– / Thrice blessed ergophobia!

Ross Ellis, "Ergophobia," Munsey's Magazine, Volume LV, June to September, 1915
Monday, March 05, 2018

peculate

[ pek-yuh-leyt ]

verb

to steal or take dishonestly (money, especially public funds, or property entrusted to one's care); embezzle.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of peculate?

Peculate derives from the Latin past participle and noun pecūlātus “embezzled, embezzlement,” derivative of the verb pecūlārī “to embezzle,” and itself a derivative of pecūlium “wealth in cattle, private property.” Latin suffers from an embarras de richesses of terms relating to misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement, and peculation. The Latin root noun behind all the corruption is pecu “cattle, large cattle,” the source of pecūnia “movable property, riches, wealth, money.” Latin pecu comes all but unchanged from Proto-Indo-European pek-, peku- “wealth, livestock, movable property.” Peku- becomes fehu- in Germanic, feoh “cattle, goods, money” in Old English, and fee in English. Peculate entered English in the 18th century.

how is peculate used?

The neglect of the Treasurer and the supineness of the President gave him the opportunity to peculate.

, "A Defaulting Secretary," New York Times, October 14, 1884

Right off the top of his head, James Madison could think of a lot of good reasons to impeach a President. He ticked off this list: “He might lose his capacity after his appointment. He might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers.” (To peculate is to embezzle.) It’s a very good list. Members of Congress might want to consult it.

Jill Lepore, “How Impeachment Ended Up in the Constitution,” The New Yorker, May 18, 2017

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.