Word of the Day

Saturday, April 18, 2020

chockablock

[ chok-uh-blok ]

adjective

extremely full; crowded; jammed: a room chockablock with furniture and plants.

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What is the origin of chockablock?

Chockablock is a nautical term describing the position of tackle when the blocks are drawn close together. From the sense of the blocks being pressed tightly together, chockablock develops the sense “extremely full, crowded.” Chock and block are clear enough: they are synonyms for a wedge or other solid, heavy mass for holding something steady. The only problem with chockablock is the –a-: it is likely a reduced form of andChockablock entered English at the end of the 18th century.

how is chockablock used?

I have a steel engraving of the Old Harbor chockablock with ships ….

John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent, 1961

The lyrics and the video are chockablock with suburban Americana signifiers: lawns, pools, divorce.

Spencer Kornhaber, "What Adam Schlesinger Knew About America," The Atlantic, April 3, 2020

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Friday, April 17, 2020

breviloquent

[ bre-vil-uh-kwuhnt ]

adjective

speaking or expressed in a concise or terse style; using brevity of speech.

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What is the origin of breviloquent?

Breviloquent means “speaking in a concise style.” Breviloquent comes from the Latin adjective breviloquēns (inflectional stem breviloquent-), a compound of brevis “short” (inflectional stem brevi-) and loquēns, present participle of loquī “to speak.” Breviloquentia, “brevity of speech,” the noun derivative of breviloquēns, occurs only once—one time!—in all of Latin literature, in a private letter that Cicero wrote to his close childhood friend, Titus Pomponius Atticus. Breviloquent entered English in the 19th century.

how is breviloquent used?

On the contrary, nothing is more remarkable in the Paston correspondence than the extreme and business-like shortness of most of them. They seem to anticipate the breviloquent era of Sir Rowland Hill. 

Herman Merivale, "Are the 'Paston Letters' Authentic?" The Fortnightly, Vol. 2, 1865

Soft-spoken and breviloquent, Nokie Edwards’ gentle manner is contradicted by the quick, clean guitar licks that make him famous as a former member of surf-instro band The Ventures.

Laurie Heuston, "Nokie Edwards and The HitchHiker Band," Mail Tribune, January 20, 2017

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

panacea

[ pan-uh-see-uh ]

noun

an answer or solution for all problems or difficulties: His economic philosophy is a good one, but he tries to use it as a panacea.

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What is the origin of panacea?

Panacea comes from Latin panacēa, which had the same meanings of the Greek original, panákeia “universal remedy; the name of a healing plant and its juice.” Panákeia is a compound of the Greek combining form pan– “all,” completely naturalized in English, and the adjective suffix –akḗs “healing,” a derivative ákos “cure, remedy.” The Greeks had a genius for personification, making, for instance, the common noun peithṓ “persuasion” into the goddess Peithṓ. So, too, with hygíeia “healthy state, good health” becoming the goddess Hygíeia, and panákeia, the goddess Panákeia. In fact the first sentence of the Hippocratic Oath (originally dating between the 5th and 3rd centuries b.c.) begins, “I swear by Apollo the physician and Asclepius and Hygeia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses….” Panacea entered English in the mid-16th century.

how is panacea used?

That could help provide a financial lifeline for the difficult weeks ahead — but it isn’t a panacea ….

Ann Carrns, "How to Build an Emergency Fund in the Middle of an Emergency," New York Times, March 20, 2020

The panacea of a world state, on the contrary, is doomed to bitter disappointment. A political unification of the nations of the world is impossible while political questions divide mankind.

Ellery C. Stowell, "A League of Nations," The Nation, Vol. 103, December 7, 1916

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