Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, July 29, 2021

celerity

[ suh-ler-i-tee ]

noun

swiftness; speed.

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What is the origin of celerity?

Celerity, “swiftness; speed,” comes via Middle French célérité from Latin celeritās (inflectional stem celeritāt-) “swiftness, quickness, speed,” a derivative of the adjective celer. Celer comes from the Proto-Indo-European root kel– “to drive, incite to quick motion” and the suffix –es– (Old Latin keles– regularly changes to Classical Latin celer-). The Latin adjective celeber, also celebris “busy, crowded, frequented” (source of English celebrate, celebrated) is also formed from kel-. The root also appears in Greek kélēs “runner, racer, racehorse, fast ship.” Celerity entered English in the second half of the 15th century.

how is celerity used?

At both forms of interview, the majority are not attending and taking notes because a court stenographer is doing it for them. With breathtaking celerity—within ten minutes—transcripts of both the flash interviews and the longer interviews are produced, reproduced, machine-stapled, never proofread, and placed in wall racks, where they are collected by the journalists.

John McPhee, "Rip Van Golfer," The New Yorker, July 30, 2007

Minutes after my delayed arrival Schneier had with characteristic celerity packed himself and me into a taxi.

Charles C. Mann, "Homeland Insecurity," The Atlantic, September 2002

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Word of the day

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Fletcherize

[ flech-uh-rahyz ]

verb (used with or without object)

to chew (food) slowly and thoroughly.

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What is the origin of Fletcherize?

Fletcherize, “to chew (food) slowly and thoroughly so as to extract its maximum nutrition,” is named after Horace Fletcher (1849-1919), a self-taught U.S. nutritionist and author. During his lifetime Fletcher was known as the “Great Masticator” for his insistence that food be chewed until liquefied before swallowing and for his slogan “Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate.” Other food reformers of the 19th century include Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), who inspired the graham cracker. Herman Melville refers to graham crackers in his novel Pierre; or The Ambiguities (1852): “They went about huskily muttering the Kantian Categories through teeth and lips dry and dusty as any miller’s, with the crumbs of Graham crackers.” And John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) was a U.S. physician and nutritionist best known today for his invention of corn flakes. Fletcherize entered English in the early 20th century.

how is Fletcherize used?

Ottla always said how kind and gentle her brother was … and how the Kafka family worried about his digestion and how boring it was to sit and watch him Fletcherize his food.

Francine Prose, Guided Tours of Hell, 1997

Yet one reason “The Voyeur’s Motel” is gripping is that Mr. Talese doesn’t fletcherize his material. He lays out what he knows and does not know in sentences that are as crisp as good Windsor knots.

Dwight Garner, "Making a Case for 'The Voyeur's Motel' by Gay Talese," New York Times, July 5, 2016

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Word of the day

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

noetic

[ noh-et-ik ]

adjective

of or relating to the mind.

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What is the origin of noetic?

Noetic, “relating to the mind; originating in or comprehended by the reason,” is very common in all genres of Greek literature, but especially in Platonic, Aristotelian, and Neoplatonic philosophy. The word comes straight from the Greek adjective noētikós “intellectual,” a derivative of the noun nóēsis “thought, intelligence.” Nóēsis is a derivative of the verb noeîn, which in turn comes from the noun noûs, the Attic Greek contracted variant of general Greek nóos “mind, sense, intellect” (Attic Greek, the dialect of Attica, whose capital was Athens, was the basis for Koine or standardized Greek after the late 4th century). As with about 60 percent of ancient Greek vocabulary, there is no convincing etymology for noûs, nóos. In colloquial British usage, nous (rhyming with mouse, not with moose) also means “common sense, practical intelligence.” Noetic entered English in the middle of the 17th century.

how is noetic used?

The Kyaanusili peace poem is as tightly patterned as a sonnet, as symmetrical and strophic as a Greek choral ode, and in its way as richly rhymed as a troubadour song—and yet these patterns, strophes, rhymes, are made primarily of ideas and of images, only secondarily sounds. This is noetic prosody.

Robert Bringhurst, A Story a Sharp as a Knife, 1999

He is a noetic butterfly that no one has pinned down—he was once offered a job on the Clinton economic team, and the Bush campaign approached him about being a crime adviser—but who is widely appreciated.

Stephen J. Dubner, "The Probability That a Real-Estate Agent Is Cheating You (and Other Riddles of Modern Life), New York Times Magazine, August 3, 2003

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