Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

caducous

[ kuh-doo-kuhs, -dyoo- ]

adjective

dropping off very early, as leaves.

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What is the origin of caducous?

The adjective caducous “(of leaves) falling early or too early” comes straight from Latin cadūcus “tending to fall, tottery, unsteady; transitory,” a derivative of the verb cadere “to fall, fall over, collapse.” Cadere is also the source of the Latin compound verb dēcidere “to fall down, fall over,” which forms the derivative adjective dēciduus “falling, tending to fall or be dropped” (English deciduous). The botanical difference between caducous and deciduous is that caducous leaves fall too easily or too early, and deciduous leaves fall at the end of the growing season. Caducous entered English in the 18th century.

how is caducous used?

After the flowering period, the ground under the oak, poplar, and other trees, is strewn with their male catkins; these are caducous, falling off soon after they have shed their pollen …

Alex S. Wilson, "Wind Fertilized Flowers," Scientific American, October 12, 1895

So is it with this calamity: it does not touch me: something which I fancied was a part of me, which could not be torn away without tearing me, nor enlarged without enriching me, falls off from me, and leaves no scar. It was caducous.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Experience," Essays: Second Series, 1844

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Word of the day

Monday, September 21, 2020

yare

[ yair or yahr ]

adjective

quick; agile; lively.

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What is the origin of yare?

Yare is an uncommon adjective meaning “ready, prepared.” As is usual for short words, Middle English shows more than two dozen spellings; Old English is more restrained, gearu and gearo being the most common (before the inflections are added). The Old English forms derive from the verb gearwian “to prepare, equip.” Gearwian is the Old English development of the Germanic verb garwian “to prepare, equip, make.” The noun garwi– “equipment, adornment,” a derivative of garwian, is the source for the Old Norse noun gervi, gørvi “apparel, equipment,” source of English gear. The English noun garb comes via Middle French garbe “grace, graceful figure, elegance,” from Italian garbo “form, grace, elegance (of dress),” a derivative of the verb garbare “to be pleasant,” from Old High German garawi “dress, equipment,” ultimately from Germanic garwian.

how is yare used?

dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation; for thy assailant is quick, skilfull, and deadly.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, 1623

Bear up, gentle laddie, for we must be yare, Or of Bruin the bear else we may be ware.

Frank Horridge, "The Baron of Egisheim," Ballades of Olde France, Alsace, and Olde Holland, 1919

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Word of the day

Sunday, September 20, 2020

alimentation

[ al-uh-men-tey-shuhn ]

noun

nourishment; nutrition.

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What is the origin of alimentation?

Alimentation, “nourishment, food,” comes via Medieval Latin alimentātiō (inflectional stem alimentātiōn-), ultimately a derivative of the Latin verb alere “to nourish.” The many English derivatives from alere include alumnus and alumna “nursling, foster son, foster daughter,” aliment (from alimentum “food, nourishment, provisions”), alimentary (from alimentārius “pertaining to nutrition;” the alimentary canal runs from the mouth to the anus), alimony (from alimōnia “food, support, nourishment”), and alma māter, literally “nourishing mother” (from the adjective almus “nourishing”). Latin alere comes from the Proto-Indo-European root al– “to grow, make grow, nourish,” source of Old Irish alim “I nourish,” Welsh al “litter (of animals),” Gothic alan “to grow up,” Old Norse ala “to nourish, raise.” Finally, the suffixed Proto-Indo-European form alto– “grown, grown up” becomes ald– in Germanic, the source of English old; the Germanic compound noun wer-ald, literally “man age, life on earth,” becomes weorold in Old English, world in English. Alimentation entered English in the late 16th century.

how is alimentation used?

In mid-March, in the tense week before the British government announced its belated coronavirus-induced lockdown, certain everyday products became extraordinarily hard to find. Panicked buyers swept up fundamentals of alimentation and elimination: yeast, flour, bathroom tissue.

Rebecca Mead, "The Therapeutic Power of Gardening," The New Yorker, August 17, 2020

The effect and value of alimentation was a question for the philosopher as well as for the physiologist, and the gourmand gave utterance to a truism when he said that the destiny of nations depended upon the manner in which they were fed.

"Alimentation in Its Relation to National Prosperity," New York Times, November 13, 1873

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