Word of the Day

Monday, May 27, 2019

decoration

[ dek-uh-rey-shuhn ]

noun

a badge, medal, etc., conferred and worn as a mark of honor: a decoration for bravery.

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What is the origin of decoration?

English decoration is a straightforward borrowing from Late Latin decorātiō (inflectional stem decorātiōn-) “adornment, ornament,” a derivative of the verb decorāre. Decorāre in turn derives from decor– (inflectional stem of decus) “an ornament, splendor, honor.” Decus is related to the verbs decēre “to be acceptable, be fitting” and docēre “to teach,” i.e., “to make fitting.” Decoration entered English in the 16th century.

how is decoration used?

He was later awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration ….

Harrison Smith, "Howard Lee, Medal of Honor recipient who led a long-odds defense, dies at 85," Washington Post, March 31, 2019

In short order, White won a Rhodes scholarship, became the best-paid player of his era in the National Football League and its rushing champion and earned decorations for his wartime Navy service.

Laura Kalman, "John Kennedy's Nonconformist," New York Times, August 23, 1998
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Sunday, May 26, 2019

seriatim

[ seer-ee-ey-tim, ser- ]

adverb, adjective

in a series; one after another.

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What is the origin of seriatim?

The English adverb seriatim “one after another, in a series,” comes directly from the Medieval Latin adverb seriātim, which has the same meaning. Seriātim is composed of the Latin noun seriēs “line, series” and the adverb suffix –ātim, extracted from Latin adverbs like gradātim “by steps, ascending or descending gradually,” and certātim “in rivalry, emulously.” The suffix is a useful one, forming adverbs like literātim “literally, letter for letter, literatim,” and verbātim “literally, word for word, verbatim.” Seriatim entered English in the late 15th century.

how is seriatim used?

I’ve been reading all the “Doonesbury” strips from the fall of 1976 through January of 1980, seriatim.

Rick Perlstein, "Rick Perlstein: By the Book," New York Times, August 28, 2014

This is no place to list his achievements, nor need his failures be set down seriatim.

"President Taft," The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 109, 1912
Saturday, May 25, 2019

hermitage

[ hur-mi-tij ]

noun

any secluded place of residence or habitation; retreat; hideaway.

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What is the origin of hermitage?

The history of the English noun hermitage is complicated by the unetymological h-. Middle English and Old French have both hermitage and ermitage (and many other spellings). Late Latin (in a 5th-century Christian author) has erēmīta (correctly) “eremite, hermit,” from Greek erēmī́tēs, a very rare noun and adjective meaning “of the desert,” and first occurring in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible dating from the 3rd century b.c.) in the Book of Job. The Greek noun (and therefore the Latin, too) is a derivative of erêmos (also érēmos), an adjective and noun meaning “solitary, desolate, lonely; a desert.” The spellings herēmīta and its derivative herēmītagium “hermitage” first appear in Medieval Latin. Hermitage entered English in the late 13th century.

how is hermitage used?

… I had found out for myself a little hermitage. It was a kind of leafy cave, high upward into the air, among the midmost branches of a white-pine tree.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, 1852

In the end, the legend holds, Lancelot goes to live in penitence in a hermitage, while the king, mortally wounded, is set adrift on a ship—to one day rise again.

Kathryn Schulz, "Rapt," The New Yorker, March 2, 2015

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