Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, March 08, 2020
Today's Word of the Day was selected by Girl Scouts


[ kon-fi-duhns ]


belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance.

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Why Girl Scouts chose confidence

In short, Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Confidence is an important aspect to reach higher and go further!

Girl Scouts helps girls be their best, bravest, boldest selves each day. The benefits go beyond the badges and awards they earn as recognition of the new skills they learn. Whether she’s finishing a school project, making a new friend, hiking in the backcountry, or speaking up for what’s right—a Girl Scout faces the world with confidence and optimism.

What is the origin of confidence?

Confidence can come from a variety of sources, such as overcoming an obstacle or mastering a new skill. But etymologically, confidence comes from Latin, specifically the noun confīdentia from the verb confīdere “to confide.” The Latin prefix con-, a variant of com-, usually means “with; together; in combination,” but here it is an intensive prefix meaning “completely”; the verb fīdere means “to trust.” The related Latin noun fidēs “trust” is the ultimate source of the English word faith. Confidence entered English in the 14th century. 

how is confidence used?

Its message is that girls should have confidence, step up and become leaders by raising our hands. As with every patch in Girl Scouts, you have to earn this one.

Alice Paul Tapper, "I'm 10. And I Want Girls to Raise Their Hands," New York Times, October 31, 2017

Her confidence was contagious. King was a role model in my life.

Kathleen Kemper,

"'Complete Awe': What It Was Like to Be On the Court at the Battle of the Sexes," Fortune, September 24, 2017

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Saturday, March 07, 2020


[ kav-uhl ]

verb (used without object)

to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (usually followed by at or about): He finds something to cavil at in everything I say.

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What is the origin of cavil?

The verb cavil “to raise irritating and trivial objections” ultimately comes from the Latin verb cavillārī “to jeer, scoff, quibble,” a derivative of the noun cavilla “jesting, banter.” Cavillārī and calvī “to deceive, trick” come from the Latin root cal-, and cavilla comes from an earlier unrecorded calvilla. Cavil entered English in the 16th century.

how is cavil used?

Now, I’m not the type to cavil at the outrageous fortune of others, as long as they come by it legally.

, "Maybe Anyone Can Hop on the I.P.O. Bandwagon," New York Times, July 8, 2007

Has it become a custom for the brothers and sisters to carp and cavil at one another—and even for Mamma to cavil at her children—as I have heard you all do to-night?

Louis Couperus (1863–1923), Small Souls, translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, 1914

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Friday, March 06, 2020


[ tan-tuh-mount ]


equivalent, as in value, force, effect, or signification: His angry speech was tantamount to a declaration of war.

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What is the origin of tantamount?

In contemporary English tantamount is an adjective meaning “equivalent,” an adjective use of the obsolete noun tantamount “something equivalent, an equivalent,” which, in its turn, is a development of the somewhat earlier verb tantamount “to amount to as much” (all three parts of speech are recorded between 1628 and 1641). Tantamount comes from Anglo-French tant am(o)unter or Italian tanto montare “to amount to as much.” Tant and tanto come from the neuter Latin adjective tantum “so much”; am(o)unter “to add up to, ascend” comes from the Old French adverb amont “up, upward,” from Latin ad montem “(up) to the hill.”

how is tantamount used?

It was a daring move in those days; most men of the countryside feared the city, clung to what was safe and familiar, teaching their sons that leaving the land was tantamount to dying.

Bina Shah, A Season for Martyrs, 2014

Recovering a diamond at Karowe is tantamount to finding a needle in a haystack, in a barn full of other haystacks without needles.

Ed Caesar, "The Woman Shaking Up the Diamond Industry," The New Yorker, January 27, 2020

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