Word of the Day

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

cerebrate

[ ser-uh-breyt ]

verb

to use the mind; think or think about.

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What is the origin of cerebrate?

The verb cerebrate is a back formation from the noun cerebration, which is a derivative of the Latin noun cerebrum “brain, understanding.” Cerebrum is a derivative of a very widespread, very complicated Proto-Indo-European root ker- “uppermost part of the body, head, horn, nail (of the finger or toe).” This root has many variant forms and is related to the Latin noun crābro “hornet” (English hornet comes from the same root), Greek kár “head” and kéras “horn,” and German Hirn “brain.” Cerebrate entered English in the 19th century.

how is cerebrate used?

To think, then, is to cerebrate. To worry is to cerebrate intensely.

George Wharton James, Quit Your Worrying!, 1917

If you simply retire to your own room, shove your backside into an excessively sprung easy chair, and there grimly cerebrate, the chances are that you will eventually do no more than crawl into bed — to wake up six to eight hours later with an unsolved conundrum and a filthy headache.

Michael Innes, An Awkward Lie, 1971
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Monday, February 05, 2018

crump

[ kruhmp, kroo mp ]

verb

to make a crunching sound, as in walking over snow, or as snow when trodden on.

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What is the origin of crump?

Crump was first recorded in 1640-50. It is imitative of the sound of something crunching underfoot.

how is crump used?

With the new snow flattening sounds he felt almost deaf or dreaming. His boots crumped down into it.

Adam Foulds, The Quickening Maze, 2009

The horses’ hooves crunched in the snow, the wagon wheels creaked through it and, behind, the march of several hundred feet crumpcrumped along.

Janet Paisley, White Rose Rebel, 2007
Sunday, February 04, 2018

byzantine

[ biz-uh n-teen, -tahyn, bahy-zuh n-, bih-zan-tin ]

adjective

complex or intricate: a deal requiring Byzantine financing.

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What is the origin of byzantine?

The English adjective Byzantine originally applied to the city of Byzantium (later Constantinople) and the art, architecture, and history of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire. The most common current sense “complex, intricate” dates from the first half of the 20th century. Byzantine entered English in the 18th century.

how is byzantine used?

“We’ve had the process referred to as byzantine, shrouded in secrecy, opaque. Yet this is the process that Congress designed, a process that not only demands confidentiality, but strict confidentiality. This is the system we’re tasked to administer,” Grundmann said.

Joe Davidson, "Hill's workplace rights agency points to Congress for lack of transparency," Washington Post, December 1, 2017

Over the course of two hundred pages I had improvised a byzantine system involving highlighter, underlines, and marginal punctuation marks.

Tom Perrotta, Joe College, 2000

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