Word of the Day

Word of the day


[ sur-kuhm-am-byuh-leyt ] [ ˌsɜr kəmˈæm byəˌleɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


to walk or go about or around, especially ceremoniously.

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More about circumambulate

Circumambulate “to walk around” is a compound of two Latin-origin stems: circum- “around” and ambul- “to walk.” As we learned from the recent Words of the Day circadian and circumstellar, circum- comes from Latin circus “circle,” which is the source of English terms such as circa, circular, and circumference. The stem ambul- comes from Latin ambulāre “to walk,” which gives rise to English amble, ambulance, and funambulist “tightrope walker.” In modern Romance languages, though nothing is certain, some linguists hypothesize that Latin ambulāre may be the root (following a long series of unusual sound changes) of Spanish andar “to walk” and French aller “to go” (as in the recent Word of the Day laisser-aller). Circumambulate was first recorded in the 1650s.

how is circumambulate used?

I’m proud to say I did circumambulate the gigantic, three-century-old Zamana tree. With branches that span the equivalent of a city block, it’s a tropical tree of life.

Ceil Miller Bouchet, “This is the Caribbean Paradise for Rum,” National Geographic, February 2, 2016

Circumambulation, an intentional, ceremonial circling of a sacred object, is an ancient ritual with roots in many world cultures …. [English professor and photographer David Robertson] explained that circumambulating Mt. Tam was a way for him to create meaning for himself in relation to the natural world.

Andrea Ross, “Circumambulating in COVID-Times: Joy and Solace on Mt. Tam During the Pandemic,” Bay Nature, April 8, 2021
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[ guh-nahsh ] [ gəˈnɑʃ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a whipped frosting or filling made with semisweet chocolate and cream, used for cakes, pastries, and candies.

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More about ganache

Ganache “a filling made with chocolate and cream” is a loanword from French, and before it gained its sweet, present-day meaning, it meant “horse’s jaw” and could be used as an insult for another person’s intelligence (or lack of it). Quite the peculiar changes in definition there! Prior to French, ganache was adapted from Italian ganascia “jaw”; the change in spelling from sc to ch is to preserve the “shuh” sound, which is represented in French as ch and in Italian as sc (when followed by an e or i). Ultimately, ganache comes from Ancient Greek gnathos “jaw,” which is not connected to English gnash “to grind the teeth together” but is distantly related to English chin. Ganache was first recorded in English in the early 19th century.

how is ganache used?

[G]anache is a fixture on dessert menus and sounds daunting, but in truth is just a melted-together mixture of chocolate and cream. It takes about five minutes to put together, can be adjusted to taste like a classic fudge topping or a sophisticated dark chocolate drizzle and is easily the most impressive thing you can serve over homemade ice cream…

Julia Moskin, “Chocolate Ganache, an Easygoing French Treat,” New York Times, June 30, 2014

Yazzie’s program–supported by World Central Kitchen–continues to purchase cocoa powders that baker Vanessa Casillas (Ho-Chunk, Chicana) whips into a tasty dessert for each meal, like a Belizean chocolate chantilly or cupcakes with Belizean chocolate ganache in the middle, served to a diverse tribal community, including Ojibwe and Dakota elders at the Indian Center.

Valerie Vande Panne, “Trading for the Future by Remembering Our Past,” Native News Online, August 22, 2020
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Word of the day

Today's Word Of The Day was chosen by Abiola Mubarak Mohammed


[ bawr-buh-rig-mahy ] [ ˌbɔr bəˈrɪg maɪ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

plural noun

rumbling or gurgling sounds caused by the movement of gas in the intestines.

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Why Abiola Mubarak Mohammed chose borborygmi

As a prize for winning the Dictionary Derby, Abiola Mubarak Mohammed, a medical professional, chose today's Word of the Day. When asked why borborygmi was chosen for Word of the Day, Abiola Mubarak Mohammed wrote, "It was the first word that crossed my mind the moment this golden opportunity availed itself. It was my medical word of choice for the most intriguing medical term entry in my final year (in my yearbook). The word simply speaks for itself."

More about borborygmi

Borborygmi “gurgling sounds in the intestines” is the plural of borborygmus, which indicates a single gurgling sound. Like many singular Latin nouns ending in -us, this ending switches to -i in the plural form, but remember that not all -us nouns from Latin change in this way; one opus becomes two opera, one octopus becomes two octopodes, and—technically—one Prius should become two Priora, though the hypercorrection Prii has won over in popularity. The y in borborygmi shows that, before Latin, the word was borrowed from Ancient Greek: one borborygmós and two borborygmoí, with the -os and -oi endings becoming Latinized to -us and -i according to the custom at the time. Borborygmós was created by imitating the rumbling sound in question, and for a similarly formed word, compare bárbaros “foreign,” the source of barbarian and the name Barbara. Borborygmi was first recorded in English in the 1710s.

how is borborygmi used?

Whoo, that was embarrassing. I accidentally let my borborygmi go. Of course, borborygmi is involuntary, I can’t help it. Borborygmi, the rumbling sound of your gut, doesn’t come from your stomach, nor is it solely because you’re hungry.

Sam Watt, “The Science of Gut Rumbles,” Northern Public Radio, June 8, 2018

For all that the dog is demonic and the detective dazzling, the genius of The Hound of the Baskervilles lies in its main location …. This bog’s borborygmi, says the novel’s villain, cause the ghostly howling that can sometimes be heard, but the natives say it’s the hound, and they’re right.

Marc Griffiths, “‘Unleashed, mad and dangerous’: How Britain’s wild, romantic moorland is our ‘signature habitat,’ inspiring everything from Beowulf to The Hound of the Baskervilles,” Country Life, June 13, 2020
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