Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

cathartic

[ kuh-thahr-tik ]

adjective

of or relating to the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.

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What is the origin of cathartic?

Cathartic comes via Latin from Ancient Greek kathartikós “fit for cleansing,” from the adjective katharós “pure” or “clean.” The name Catherine is often claimed to derive from katharós, but this is folk etymology; while the words look and sound similar, they have different, unrelated origins. A true derivative of katharós is the term Catharism, the name of a sect of Christianity that flourished in the south of France during the Middle Ages and held as one of its fundamental beliefs the existence of two equal, opposing gods rather than a single, all-powerful deity. Cathartic entered English in the early 1600s.

how is cathartic used?

We watched the film together and slowly I just started to see my mom starting to weep, my sister, my dad. And it just felt like it was such a cathartic experience for all of us. It was really special, really incredible.

Lee Isaac Chung, as quoted in “Lee Isaac Chung Jotted Down Some Family Memories—They Became ‘Minari,’” NPR, March 3, 2021

I’d be having a bad day and I’d write about how I’m feeling, with tears in my eyes. It was like writing in my diary, but making it into a song. It was cathartic for me.

Ray BLK, as quoted in "Ray BLK: ‘A song is like writing in my diary. It’s cathartic,’" The Guardian, August 22, 2021

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Word of the day

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

lucubrate

[ loo-kyoo-breyt ]

verb (used without object)

to work, write, or study laboriously, especially at night.

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What is the origin of lucubrate?

Lucubrate derives from the Latin verb lūcubrāre “to work at night” or, more specifically, “to work by candlelight/lamplight,” from the Proto-Indo-European root lewk- “light,” which is the source of many Latin-derived words related to light, clarity, and brightness. From the verb lūcēre “to shine,” we inherit lucid and translucent; from the verb lūstrāre “to make bright,” we have adapted luster and illustrate; and from the noun lūmen “light,” we have luminous and illuminate. This Proto-Indo-European root is also found in the English terms light and lea, another word for “meadow”; Latin lūna “moon”; and Ancient Greek leukós “white,” as in leukocyte, the technical term for a white blood cell. Lucubrate entered English in the early 1600s.

how is lucubrate used?

While I was confident in my education to this point—after a full course of study at Tokyo Imperial University, I came first to Harvard and then M.I.T. for advanced work because I wanted a modern outlook on architecture, a Western outlook, and I was willing to work all day and lucubrate till dawn to get it—I was coming to Taliesin on impulse.

T. C. Boyle, The Women, 2009

Some gorge on other poetry and ruminate productively: some interrogate the canon. Some regurgitate. Some over-lucubrate with dictionaries. Some wax Latinate.

Jean Bleakney, "Improvisation," The Guardian, December 1, 2008

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Word of the day

Monday, September 06, 2021

indefatigable

[ in-di-fat-i-guh-buhl ]

adjective

incapable of being tired out; not yielding to fatigue; untiring.

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What is the origin of indefatigable?

Indefatigable “incapable of being tired out” has changed little in spelling and meaning since its origin as the Latin adjective indēfatīgābilis “untiring” or, more literally, “not-tire out-able.” This adjective derives from the verb fatīgāre “to tire,” the source of English fatigue (via French), but its ultimate origin is unknown. The most compelling theory is that fatīgāre comes from a hypothesized adjective, fatis “gaping open” or “yawning,” found also in the verb fatīscere “to grow weak” or “to crack open.” Indefatigable entered English in the late 1500s.

how is indefatigable used?

[W]ith enlarged lungs adapted to life on the 15,000-foot-high, oxygen-starved Tibetan Plateau, Nangchen steeds were bred to be inexhaustible and sure-footed on snowy passes. … I am captivated by the possibility that back in the deep valleys Tibetans might still ride their indefatigable horses along the original trail.

Mark Jenkins, "The Forgotten Road," National Geographic, May 2010

At the age of sixty-eight, Tolstoy was given a tennis racket and taught the rules of the game. He became an instant tennis addict….All summer long, Tolstoy played tennis for three hours every day. No opponent could rival Tolstoy’s indefatigable thirst for the game of tennis…

Elif Batuman, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, 2010

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