Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, August 14, 2020

de facto

[ dee fak-toh, dey ]

adverb, adjective

in fact; in reality: Although his title was prime minister, he was de facto president of the country.

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What is the origin of de facto?

The English adjective and adverb de facto, “in fact, really, in actuality (whether legal or illegal),” comes from the Latin phrase dē factō, from the preposition “of, from” and the noun factum “deed, act.” De facto is frequently contrasted with de jure, from the Latin phrase dē jūre “according to law, legally.” De facto entered English in the early 17th century.

how is de facto used?

Teachers will be safe at home, Hicks-Maxie noted. She doesn’t blame them. But she said that will leave child care workers as de facto teachers—at half the pay.

Nina Shapiro, "Hobbled by 1,000 closures, Washington's child care industry thrust into de facto teaching," Seattle Times, August 9, 2020

By choosing her as his political partner, Mr. Biden, if he wins, may well be anointing her as the de facto leader of the party in four or eight years.

Alexander Burns and , "Kamala Harris Is Biden's Choice for Vice President," New York Times, August 11, 2020

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Word of the day

Thursday, August 13, 2020

sinistrality

[ sin-uh-stral-i-tee ]

noun

left-handedness.

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What is the origin of sinistrality?

There is nothing sinister about sinistrality: the word simply means “left-handedness” (as opposed to right-handedness) or “left-sidedness.” Sinistrality is a derivation of the adjective sinistral, whose current sense is “on the left-hand side, left” (in Middle English sinistralle meant “unlucky, adverse”). Sinistrality entered English in the mid-19th century.

how is sinistrality used?

Kermit’s sinistrality leapt right off the page at me as soon as I saw the photograph of him with Bret McKenzie that accompanies Adam Sternbergh’s feature in this week’s magazine.

David Vecsey, "How About a Hand for the Muppets!" New York Times, November 18, 2011

There are reports of editors being 31 per cent lefty and of graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in math and science showing 45 per cent sinistrality.

Conrad Chyatte, "Sinistrality Unmasked at Last," American Bar Association Journal, May 1975

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Word of the day

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

rodomontade

[ rod-uh-mon-teyd, -tahd, -muhn-, roh-duh- ]

noun

vainglorious boasting or bragging; pretentious, blustering talk.

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What is the origin of rodomontade?

Rodomontade, “vainglorious boasting, bragging,” is also occasionally spelled rhodomontade (as if it were from Greek rhódon “rose”) and rodomontado; it comes from Middle French rodomont, from Italian rodomonte “bully,” from Rodomonte, the name of the courageous but boastful king of Algiers in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso “Roland in Frenzy, Raging Roland,” 1516. Orlando Furioso is a continuation of an earlier Renaissance Italian epic Orlando Innamorato “Roland in Love,” by Matteo Boiardo, one of whose major characters is Rodomonte, also spelled Rodamontre, and popularly interpreted to mean “mountain roller,” from Italian rodare, from Latin rotāre, from rota “wheel,” and Italian monte, from Latin mons (stem mont-) “mount, mountain.” Rodomontade entered English in the late 16th century.

how is rodomontade used?

I am charmed to notice that things that were once said to matter—familiarity with epigrams, knowledge of rhetorical devices and their terrifying names, the ability to display a rich vocabulary without rodomontade—seem to matter still.

Edith Pearlman, "My word, they're immortal!" New York Times, January 8, 2008

because she has amused him with some rodomontade about despising rank and wealth in matters of love and marriage, he flatters himself that she’s devotedly attached to him.

Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, 1848

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