Word of the Day

Thursday, July 23, 2020

clamber

[ klam-ber, klam-er ]

verb (used with or without object)

to climb, using both feet and hands; climb with effort or difficulty.

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What is the origin of clamber?

Clamber, “to climb using hands and feet, with effort or difficulty,” comes from Middle English clambren (also clameren, clemeren), possibly a frequentative verb from climben (also clemme, climme, klimbe, clomme) “to climb.” Further etymology is unsatisfying: it has been suggested that clamber is a blend of Old English climban “to climb” and clæmman “to press”; clamber is akin to Old Norse klambra “to hook onto,” and Middle High German klamben and German klammern, both meaning “to clamp tightly.” Clamber entered English in the second half of the 14th century.

how is clamber used?

Outdoor restaurant tables and chairs could be seen bobbing in the waters, and tourists were forced to clamber through the windows of high-end hotels as the water rose to about six feet before 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

Elisabetta Povoledo, "Venice Flooding Brings City to 'Its Knees,'" New York Times, November 13, 2019

He began to clamber as fast as he could out of the enclosed space, his feet scrabbling at the wall and knocking bricks free.

Matthew Hughes, "Jewel of the Heart," Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2018

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

fungible

[ fuhn-juh-buhl ]

adjective

being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.

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What is the origin of fungible?

Fungible, with its precise definition “(especially of goods) of such a kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable for another of similar kind,” is pretty much restricted to law and finance. However the term is also used with a more general meaning of “interchangeable.” Fungible comes from Medieval Latin fungibilis “useful, interchangeable,” used especially in the legal term rēs fungibilēs “fungible things, interchangeable items.” Fungibilis is a derivation of Latin fungī “to perform the office of, enjoy.” Fungī forms part of the idiomatic phrase fungī vice or fungī prō “to take the place of,” which supplies the meaning for fungibilis. Fungible entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is fungible used?

Facebook and Google need content, but it’s all fungible.

Alexis C. Madrigal, "Prepare for the New Paywall Era," The Atlantic, November 30, 2017

Given that the Hong Kong-listed shares and the New York ones will be completely fungible, Alibaba can easily sell $13 billion of shares … at a small discount to its current share price.

Jacky Wong, "Hong Kong's Protests Won't Derail Alibaba's #13 Billion Listing," Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2019

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

mirabilia

[ mee-rah-bil-i-ah; English mir-uh-bil-ee-uh ]

plural noun

Latin.

marvels; miracles.

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What is the origin of mirabilia?

In English, mirabilia is a plural noun meaning “miracles, wonders.” Mirabilia comes straight from Latin mīrābilia, a noun use of the neuter plural of the adjective mīrābilis “wonderful, marvelous, remarkable, singular.” In the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible, prepared chiefly by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century a.d.,) the adjective mīrābilis means “glorious, miraculous;” the noun use, mīrābile in the singular, mīrābilia in the plural, means “wondrous deed, miracle.” The corresponding form in Vulgar Latin, mīribilia (noun), regularly becomes merveille in Old French, merveille in Middle English, and marvel in English. Mirabilia entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is mirabilia used?

Reading this compendium is like exploring a cabinet of curiosities, each section home to uncanny and startling mirabilia.

Kanishk Tharoor, "Aphrodisiacs? Search This Medieval Islamic Encyclopedia," New York Times, October 7, 2016

in Rome you caused mirabilia to appear that the Romans themselves had never dreamed of, starting with the gabble of that Hugo of Jabala …

Umberto Eco, Baudolino, translated by William Weaver, 2002

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