• Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Sunday, October 14, 2018

    brightwork

    noun [brahyt-wurk]
    polished metal parts, as on a ship or automobile.
    Look it up

    Get to know dictionary.com

    SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    What is the origin of brightwork?

    Brightwork is an Americanism dating back to 1835–45.

    How is brightwork used?

    One other mode of passing time while in port was cleaning and polishing your bright-work; for it must be known that, in men-of-war, every sailor has some brass or steel of one kind or other to keep in high order ... Herman Melville, White Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War, 1850

    Under the unblinking gaze of the sun, windshields blazed and brightwork gleamed. Dean Koontz, The Husband, 2006

    Get to know dictionary.com

    SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Saturday, October 13, 2018

    postern

    noun [poh-stern, pos-tern]
    a back door or gate.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of postern?

    English postern comes from Old French posterne, originally “a concealed exit from a fort, a sally port,” later “a small door, a back door.” Posterne is an alteration of Old French posterle “a back door, back way," from Late Latin posterula “a small back door or gate; back way, byway,” a diminutive noun formed from the adjective posterus “(coming or being) after or in the future” and -ula, the feminine form of the common diminutive noun suffix -ulus. The -n- in posterne is likely due to the influence of the Old French adjectives interne (from Latin internus) and externe (from Latin externus). Postern entered English in the early 14th century.

    How is postern used?

    It was the second gate, a postern in the north wall, that accounted for the most noticeable change. James A. Michener, The Source, 1965

    A practicable postern was ajar on the yellow wood of the studded gates. Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford, Romance, 1903

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Friday, October 12, 2018

    sennachie

    noun [sen-uh-kee]
    Chiefly Scot., Irish. a professional storyteller of family genealogy, history, and legend.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of sennachie?

    There are several English spellings, e.g., shanachie, seannachie, for the exotic Irish and Scottish noun meaning “storyteller, oral historian, genealogist.” The word in Scots Gaelic is seanachaidh (seanachaidhe in Irish) meaning “historian, antiquarian, chronicler,” from sen “old, ancient” and cūis “matter, affair.” Sen is from Proto-Indo-European sen(o)- “old,” most obvious in Latin senex “old man,” senātus “senate,” and senectūs “old age.” Senos appears in Greek in the noun hénos “year,” and the adjective hénos “last year’s”; and in Baltic (Lithuanian) as sẽnas “old,” and sẽnis “old man.” Sennachie entered English in the 16th century.

    How is sennachie used?

    ... I do not think he could falsify a folk-tale if he tried. At the most he would change it as a few years' passing from sennachie to sennachie must do perforce. William Butler Yeats, "Irish Folk Tales," The National Observer, 1891

    My schoolfellows like my stories well enough-better at least, on most occasions, than they did the lessons of the master; but, beyond the common ground of enjoyment which these ex-tempore compositions furnished to both the "sennachie" and his auditors, our tracts of amusement lay widely apart. Hugh Miller, My Schools and Schoolmasters; or, The Story of My Education, 1854

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Thursday, October 11, 2018

    clavier

    noun [kluh-veer, klav-ee-er, kley-vee-]
    any musical instrument having a keyboard, especially a stringed keyboard instrument, as a harpsichord, clavichord, or piano.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of clavier?

    English clavier comes from Old French clavier “keyholder, keybearer,” as if from Medieval Latin clāviārius (formed from clāvis “key,” which becomes clef or clé in French, and the common noun suffix -ārius, which becomes -ier in Old French). French clavier also meant "a bank or row of keys on a musical instrument, a keyboard," which is the first sense of the word in English, dating from the early 18th century. German and the other Germanic languages specialized the meaning to “keyboard instrument with strings (particularly the clavichord),” which English adopted in the mid-19th century.

    How is clavier used?

    Herr Gleissner composed twelve songs with clavier accompaniment. Alois Senefelder, The Invention of Lithography, translated by J. W. Muller, 1911

    An engraved portrait that a German artist made of Buchinger, in 1710, includes thirteen surrounding vignettes that picture him at tables, bearing his instruments and props, but just one depicts him in action, playing a hammered clavier. Peter Schjeldahl, "Seeing and Believing," The New Yorker, January 25, 2016

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Wednesday, October 10, 2018

    vulgarian

    noun [vuhl-gair-ee-uhn]
    a vulgar person, especially one whose vulgarity is the more conspicuous because of wealth, prominence, or pretensions to good breeding.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of vulgarian?

    The Latin noun vulgus (also volgus) meant simply “common people, general public”; it also meant “crowd” and usually had a derogatory sense, but there was nothing of the flashy, tacky nouveau riche in the noun itself or its derivative nouns, adjectives, and verbs, e.g., vulgāre “to make available to the public,” vulgātus ”popular, common, ordinary,” vulgāris “belonging to the common people, conventional.” The Romans claimed to have invented satire, i.e., the genre did not exist among the Greeks. The Romans also created the (literary) type of the current sense of vulgarian “a vulgar person whose vulgarity is the more striking because of wealth, prominence, or pretensions to good breeding.” The first example is Trimalchio, a character in the Satyricon, a Latin novel dating from the mid-first century a.d. written by Gaius Petronius (died ca. 66 a.d.). Trimalchio and most of the Satyricon are familiar nowadays from the movie Fellini Satyricon (1969) by the Italian director Federico Fellini (1920–93). Vulgarian entered English in the early 19th century.

    How is vulgarian used?

    "Why, he is a perfect vulgarian," she replied, "and I am astonished at Ethel for allowing him to be so much with her." Rosa Vertner Jeffrey, Woodburn, 1864

    ... the vulgarian's restless jealousy of the class above him made him, on this score, especially intractable and suspicious. Allan McAulay, The Rhymer, 1900

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Tuesday, October 09, 2018

    ineluctable

    adjective [in-i-luhk-tuh-buhl]
    incapable of being evaded; inescapable: an ineluctable destiny.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of ineluctable?

    “Proteus,” the third episode of Ulysses, opens with the beautiful but opaque “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes.” At least the word ineluctable is easy to analyze, if not the entire sentence. Ineluctable comes directly from Latin inēluctābilis “from which one cannot escape,” which consists of the negative or privative prefix in-, roughly “not” (from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-). Ēluctārī is a compound verb meaning “to force one’s way out”; it is formed from the prefix ē-, a form of the preposition and prefix ex, ex- “out of, from within” used only before consonants, and luctārī “to wrestle”; the suffix -bilis is added to verbs and denotes ability. Ineluctable entered English in the 17th century.

    How is ineluctable used?

    The coming of a new day brought a sharper consciousness of ineluctable reality, and with it a sense of the need of action. Edith Wharton, Summer, 1917

    My world, on the contrary, has been thrown into extreme ethical confusion by my ineluctable connection with the crimes of Tsardom, forced on me by my birth into a family belonging to the minor nobility. Rebecca West, The Birds Fall Down, 1966

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Monday, October 08, 2018

    librate

    verb [lahy-breyt]
    to remain poised or balanced.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of librate?

    The verb librate comes from Latin lībrātus, the past participle of lībrāre “to balance, make level,” a derivative of the noun lībra “a balance, a pound (weight).” The further etymology of lībra is difficult. It is related to Sicilian (Doric) Greek lī́tra “a silver coin, a pound (weight),” also a unit of volume, e.g., English litre (via French litre from Latin). Both lī́tra and lībra derive from Italic līthrā. Lībra becomes lira in Italian, libra in Spanish and Portuguese, French livre (both coinage and weight). The abbreviation for lībra (weight) is lb.; the symbol for lībra (the coinage, i.e., the pound sterling) is £. Librate entered English in the 17th century.

    How is librate used?

    Watching them to the ground, the wings of a hawk, or of the brown owl, stretch out, are drawn against the current air by a string as a paper kite, and made to flutter and librate like a kestrel over the place where the woodlark has lodged ... John Leonard Knapp, Journal of a Naturalist, 1829

    At this period the balance of tropic and pole librates, and the vast atmospheric tides pour their flood upon one hemisphere and their ebb upon another. Victor Hugo, The Toilers of the Sea, translated by William Moy Thomas, 1866

    Previous Day Load More
SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.