Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, September 06, 2018

cyclopean

[ sahy-kluh-pee-uhn, sahy-klop-ee-uhn ]

adjective

gigantic; vast.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of cyclopean?

English cyclopean comes from the Latin adjective Cyclōpēus, a borrowing of Greek Kyklṓpeios, a derivative of the common noun, proper noun, and name Kýklōps, which the Greeks interpreted to mean “round eye” (a compound of kýklos “wheel” and ōps “eye, face”). The most famous Cyclops is Polyphemus, a crude, solitary shepherd living on an island whom Odysseus blinded in Homer’s Odyssey. Hesiod (ca. 8th century b.c.) in his Theogony names three Cyclopes; they are craftsmen who make Zeus’s thunderbolts, and whom the Greeks often credited with building the walls of ancient Mycenae, Tiryns, Argos, and the acropolis of Athens, all constructed with massive limestone blocks roughly fitted together without mortar. Cyclopean entered English in the 17th century.

how is cyclopean used?

… large ships’ vents hang from the two-story-high ceiling, like Cyclopean worms poking their heads in to check out the space.

Colin Stokes, "The Ship," The New Yorker, May 16, 2016

And ahead, the great cyclopean edifice reared like a giant’s curse against the darkness: too dense a black, too severe.

Storm Constantine, The Way of Light, 2002
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Word of the day

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

claddagh

[ klah-duh ]

noun

a ring in the form of two hands clasping a crowned heart, given in friendship or love.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of claddagh?

The claddagh ring is Irish in name and origin. Claddagh in Irish means “shore” and is also the name of a fishing village on the western edge of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland. The rings, with the design of two hands (friendship) clasping a heart (love), surmounted by a crown (loyalty), symbolized betrothal or marriage and were used at least as early as 1700. Claddagh entered English in the 19th century.

how is claddagh used?

One of the rings was becoming visible thanks to the bright light. “Are those hands?” “It’s a claddagh.”

C. J. Lyons, Devil Smoke, 2016

Taking note of the thick band of sterling silver, I saw alternating squares of intricately engraved pictures: one was a Scottish thistle, one a Celtic knot, one a raven and the last I recognized because of my studies: a Claddagh: two hands clasping a heart together.

Sharon Ricklin Jones, Ravenswynd Legends, 2013

Word of the day

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

scry

[ skrahy ]

verb

to use divination to discover hidden knowledge or future events, especially by means of a crystal ball.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of scry?

Aphesis is the loss of an unstressed vowel or syllable from the beginning of a word, as descry becoming scry. The adjective formed from aphesis is aphetic. Descry means “to see something unclear or distant by looking carefully”; scry has a narrower meaning, “to use divination to learn hidden events or the future, especially by gazing into a crystal ball or water.” Scry was obsolete by the 16th century, but it was revived in the 19th century by Andrew Lang (1844–1912), the Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, anthropologist, and collector of folk and fairy tales.

how is scry used?

Merlin could scry in any clear or shiny surface. Even now he had a basin of water ready at this elbow for watching his boy king.

Phyllis Ann Karr, "Merlin's Dark Mirror," The Merlin Chronicles, 1995

And my lord had a great mirror where he wanted me to scry–to see the future.

Philippa Gregory, The Lady of the Rivers, 2011

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.