Word of the Day

Monday, May 11, 2020

crepuscular

[ kri-puhs-kyuh-ler ]

adjective

of, relating to, or resembling twilight; dim; indistinct.

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What is the origin of crepuscular?

The euphonious adjective crepuscular, “relating to twilight, dim,” is a derivative of the Latin noun crepusculum “(evening) twilight, dusk” (its opposite, “morning twilight, dawn,” is diliculum, very rare but euphonious in its own right). Crepusculum is most likely a derivative of the adjective creper “obscure, doubtful, uncertain,” of obscure, doubtful, uncertain etymology. Crepuscular entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is crepuscular used?

At dusk the full moon began its rise in the crepuscular light and its glowing would last the entire of that night until it set at dawn.

Robert Olmstead, Far Bright Star, 2009

The whisper of his conviction seemed to open before me a vast and uncertain expanse, as of a crepuscular horizon on a plain at dawn—or was it, perchance, at the coming of the night?

Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, 1900

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Sunday, May 10, 2020

materfamilias

[ mey-ter-fuh-mil-ee-uhs ]

noun

the mother of a family.

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What is the origin of materfamilias?

Materfamilias, “the mother of a family,” is not very common in English, even less common than paterfamilias “the male head of a family, householder.” Materfamilias comes from Latin māterfamiliās, a compound of māter “mother” (nominative singular) and familiās “of a family” (the archaic genitive singular of the noun familia, which in classical Latin is familiae). Māterfamiliās is often written in Latin as two words (māter familiās). Materfamilias entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is materfamilias used?

I do not know a more hard-worked, driven creature than the ordinary Materfamilias at the seaside, more especially if she has left her own large airy house, with its nurseries and schoolrooms, and taken lodgings at a fashionable spot, where every inch of space costs pounds, and where she can never rid herself of her family for one moment.

J. E. Panton, Nooks and Corners, 1889

Uncle Dikran … took Shushan’s side in every family dispute, knowing better than to disagree with the omnipotent materfamilias.

Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul, 2007

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Saturday, May 09, 2020

aeolian

[ ee-oh-lee-uhn ]

adjective

of or caused by the wind; wind-blown.

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What is the origin of aeolian?

The chief element of the adjective aeolian is the proper noun Aeolus, the entity, whether human, divine, or semidivine, in charge of and controlling the winds. Aeolus lived on one of the Aeolian (Lipari) Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea just a little north of Sicily. English and Latin Aeolus derives from the Latin adjective Aeolius “connected with, derived from, or descended from Aeolus,” from Greek Aiólos, a proper noun use of the adjective aiólos “quick, nimble.” Aiólos first appears on a Linear B tablet from about the 13th century b.c. as aiwolos, the name of a cow. (Linear B was the very inefficient writing system used for Mycenean Greek in the Late Bronze Age.) The next occurrence of aiólos is much, much grander: It is the second half of the Homeric compound adjective korythaiólos “quickly moving the helmet; with flashing helmet,” part of the poetic formula korythaiólos Héktōr “Hector with the flashing helmet.” Aeolian entered English in the 16th century.

how is aeolian used?

Between June and October, subtropical tempests sweep over the landscape, creating aeolian forms—corrugated ridges caused by wind erosion.

Gulnaz Khan, "Iran's Most Wild and Beautiful Places," National Geographic, March 16, 2017

before the words of these volumes can be enjoyed, the spirit must hear the roar and thunder of the breakers of passion in the distance … and drink in his ear aeolian murmurings, and music from the thrill of spirit wings through the clear marble air.

Edwin Paxton Hood, William Wordsworth, 1856

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Friday, May 08, 2020

garth

[ gahrth ]

noun

a yard or garden.

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What is the origin of garth?

The original meaning of the common noun garth, “an open courtyard enclosed by a cloister,” has been replaced by courtyard or quadrangle or just plain quad. Garth comes from the Middle English noun garth (also gard, gart and a half dozen other spellings) “enclosed courtyard or garden; a hedge or fence,” from Old Norse garthr. The Old English noun cognate with the Old Norse is geard “enclosure, enclosed space, court, dwelling, home” (geard is pronounced about the same as yard). The Old English and Old Norse nouns come from Germanic gardaz “house, garden,” from Proto-Indo-European ghordh-, an extension of the Proto-Indo-European root gher-, ghor- “to enclose.” The extended root ghordh- yields Old Church Slavonic gradŭ “city, garden” (as in the name Stalingrad “Stalin City”), Russian górod, and Polish gród, both meaning “city.” The extended root ghorto- yields Greek chórtos “enclosure, court,” Latin hortus “garden” (horticulture is the cultivation of gardens), Welsh garth, and Irish gort, both meaning “field.” Garth entered English in the 14th century.

how is garth used?

The highest ambition of such men as the Daltons was to possess a cottage and a small garth or close of land for a cow’s summer grazing.

Henry Lonsdale, The Worthies of Cumberland: John Dalton, 1874

For a comfortable habitation, a garden for potatoes, of a rood or half an acre, called a garth

Arthur Young, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Lincoln, 1799

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Thursday, May 07, 2020

proxemics

[ prok-see-miks ]

noun

(used with a singular verb)

the study of the spatial requirements of humans and animals and the effects of population density on behavior, communication, and social interaction.

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What is the origin of proxemics?

It is hard to find a more apposite word right now than proxemics “the study of the spatial requirements for humans and the effects of population density on behavior and social interaction.” Proxemics is made up of prox(imity) and –emics, which is extracted from (phon)emics “the study of the system of sounds of a language,” or is formed on the pattern of a word like phonemics. Proxemics was coined in 1973 by the U.S anthropologist Edward Hall.

how is proxemics used?

We’re likely to see a recalibration of the bubble of personal space we keep around ourselves—a field scientists call proxemics.

Amit Katwala, "Coronavirus could kill handshakes," Wired, March 6, 2020

Proxemics, however, is not merely about interactions between individuals. On a larger scale, it helps developers, urban planners and executives in various industries understand how people move through public spaces, how they shop, even what type of restaurants they find most comfortable.

, "In Certain Circles, Two Is a Crowd," New York Times, November 16, 2006

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Wednesday, May 06, 2020

solace

[ sol-is ]

noun

something that gives comfort, consolation, or relief.

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What is the origin of solace?

Solace, both noun and verb, comes from Old French noun solas, solaz and the Old French verb solacier, solasier from the Latin noun sōlācium (also spelled sōlātium) “relief in sorrow or misfortune, comfort,” a derivative of the verb sōlārī “to give comfort, console.” One of the meanings of sōlācium is “compensation, indemnification,” found in the writings of the Imperial Roman jurist Ulpian. This legal sense of sōlātium (spelled solatium) has existed in English since the 19th century. The noun and verb solace entered English around the same time, in the late 13th century.

how is solace used?

Here it shows the attributes that have enabled medicine as a science steadily to push the frontier of knowledge farther into the area once marked unknown, and have kept medicine as an art of human relations a constant solace to men in pain, fear, and sorrow.

Bernard DeVoto, "Doctors Along the Boardwalk," Harper's Magazine, Vol. 195, 1947

The only solace of the day was to make food—the basic things, soups, simple pastas and bread.

Chang-Rae Lee, "Eat, Memory," New York Times, October 10, 2004

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Tuesday, May 05, 2020

peregrinate

[ per-i-gruh-neyt ]

verb (used without object)

to travel or journey, especially to walk on foot.

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What is the origin of peregrinate?

The verb peregrinate, “to go on a journey on foot,” comes from Latin peregrīnātus, the past participle of peregrīnārī “to travel abroad,” a derivative of the adjective and noun peregrīnus “alien, foreign; an alien, a foreigner,” formed from the adverb peregrī “away from home, abroad.” In Roman republican and imperial law, a peregrīnus was a free person or a free community that did not have Roman citizenship (the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Empire). Late Latin peregrīnus became pelegrīnus by a common dissimilation (compare the spelling colonel with its pronunciation). Pelegrīnus has its own history, becoming the source of pilgrim. Peregrinate entered English in the late 16th century.

how is peregrinate used?

Regardless of how they get there, they seem to peregrinate in a fog, for which they can hardly be blamed …

Yelena Akhtiorskaya,

I had peregrinated further to the little hamlet of Bürglen, and peeped into the frescoed chapel which commemorates the hero’s natal scene.

Henry James, “At Isella,” The Galaxy, August 1871

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