Word of the Day

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

brabble

[ brab-uhl ]

verb (used without object)

to argue stubbornly about trifles; wrangle.

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What is the origin of brabble?

Brabble is an uncommon verb and noun meaning “to quarrel over trifles; a noisy quarrel.” Its etymology is obscure, but most authorities think brabble comes from the Middle Dutch verb brabbelen “to quarrel, stammer, babble” (there is no connection between babble and brabble). One relatively early citation of brabble in the sense “to quarrel over trifles” dates from the first half of the 16th century: It reads “And then they brable with us about the translation,” a quotation from John Field, originally an Anglican clergyman, later a radical Puritan clergyman. Brabbling over a translation may seem nowadays like a petty academic quarrel, but Field was talking about John Calvin’s sermons, which were explosive at that time and could result in one’s painful death as a heretic. Brabble entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is brabble used?

they seldom meet upon the Exchange, or in the streets, but they brabble and quarrel: so that, if that society be not dissolved the sooner, or cast in a new mould, worse effects may follow than the whole business is worth.

John Chamberlain, Esq., to Sir Dudley Carleton, July 26, 1623, in The Court and Times of James the First, Vol. 2, 1848

we were, God knows, prepared to argue for it. And argue. And argue. But even in the monkish idelenss of Cambridge where there was more time to brabble in than ever I knew before or since … we saw ourselves as swords of change.

Mary Lee Settle, I, Roger Williams, 2001

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Monday, March 29, 2021

effulgent

[ ih-fuhl-juhnt, ih-fool- ]

adjective

shining forth brilliantly; radiant.

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What is the origin of effulgent?

The adjective effulgent, “shining forth brilliantly, radiant,” comes from Latin effulgēns (inflectional stem effulgent-), the present participle of effulgēre “to shine forth, blaze, flash,” a compound of the prefix ef-, a variant of ex– “out, out of, forth” (also used as an intensive), and the simple verb fulgēre “to shine brightly.” The Latin root fulg– is an extension (with –g) of the complicated Proto-Indo-European root bhelbhlē-, bhḷ– “to shine, blaze, burn.” Latin fulg– also appears in fulmen (from an unrecorded fulgmen) “lightning, thunderbolt,” source of English fulminate “to explode loudly, detonate.” Also related is the Latin verb flagrāre “to be ablaze, burn,” the source of English flagrant, now meaning “shockingly noticeable or glaring,” but formerly “blazing, burning.” From flagrāre Latin also derives flamma “flame” (from an unrecorded flagma). Effulgent entered English in the first half of the 18th century.

how is effulgent used?

She stood, while she thus spoke, under an effulgent chandelier, whose jets, wrought in the semblance of candles, dispersed from ornate metallic sconces a truly splendid glow. 

Edgar Fawcett, The Adventures of a Widow, 1884

Gilliam broke ranks with the movement—or extended it—in the mid-sixties, when he began draping vast unstretched paint-stained and -spattered canvases from walls and ceilings, creating undulant environments that drenched the eye in effulgent color.

Peter Schjeldahl, "How to Read Sam Gilliam's Formalism," The New Yorker, November 16, 2020

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Sunday, March 28, 2021

palmary

[ pal-muh-ree, pahl-, pah-muh- ]

adjective

having or deserving to have the palm of victory or success; praiseworthy.

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What is the origin of palmary?

The adjective palmary, “deserving the palm of victory; praiseworthy,” comes from the Latin adjective and noun palmārius. As an adjective, palmārius means “pertaining to palm trees”; as a neuter noun, palmārium means “masterpiece, masterstroke,” and somewhat less nobly, “the fee for an advocate who wins his case.” Palmārius is a derivative of the noun palma “palm (of the hand); the width of a palm (as a measurement); palm tree (so called from the shape of its leaves); a palm branch awarded to the winner in a contest, first place.” Palma comes from an earlier, unrecorded palama, from Proto-Indo-European pḷəmā, and is closely related to Greek palámē “hand, flat of the hand, means, device,” and also to Old Irish lām (Proto-Celtic loses initial p-), Old High German folma (Proto-Indo-European p becomes f in Proto-Germanic), and Old English folm, all meaning “hand, flat of the hand.” Palmary entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is palmary used?

One of Mr. Seitz’s gifts is his culinary vision, and his successes are palmary.

M. H. Reed, "Unhurried Culinary Vision in Brewster," New York Times, August 29, 1993

Her book is, in fact, a palmary example of a new phenomenon in scholarly publishing, the avowedly imaginative reconstruction of a historical figure’s life and world.

Michael Kulikowski, "Butcher Boy," London Review of Books, Vol. 32, No. 8, April 2010

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