Word of the Day

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

desuetude

[ des-wi-tood, -tyood ]

noun

the state of being no longer used or practiced.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of desuetude?

Desuetude comes from French désuétude, a borrowing of Latin dēsuētūdo “disuse,” a derivative of the verb dēsuēscere “to lay aside a habit or custom” and the abstract noun suffix –tūdō. Dēsuēscere is a compound verb composed of the preposition and prefix , -, here indicating negation, and the verb suēscere “to become accustomed to, to make accustomed.” In suēscere the suffix –ēscere indicates an inchoative or inceptive meaning (“to begin to…”). Desuetude entered English in the 15th century.

how is desuetude used?

A very few people, not appearing to be up to much, sat far apart at desks in a dimly lighted panorama of desuetude.

Peter Schjeldahl, "The Village Voice's Magic Mirror," The New Yorker, September 2, 2018

The practice of “leaving a calling card” may have fallen into desuetude among human beings, but as a description of pet behavior the phrase continues to have legs.

Cullen Murphy, "Anticipation," The Atlantic, November 1998
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.
Monday, February 03, 2020

caucus

[ kaw-kuhs ]

noun

U.S. Politics. a local meeting of party members to select candidates, elect convention delegates, etc.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of caucus?

“You pays your money, and you takes your choice” when it comes to the origin of caucus. The true answer is that the origin of caucus is unknown, which naturally leads to many folk etymologies. The word first appears in the Boston Gazette (1760) and is spelled Corcas. The modern spelling caucus appears in 1788, and the citation reads “More than fifty years ago [therefore about 1735], Mr. Samuel Adams’s father, and twenty others…, used to meet, make a caucus.” A possible source of caucus is the Late Latin noun caucus “drinking cup,” from Greek kaûkos with the same meaning. The trouble with Latin caucus is that there is no evidence for this development of meaning, and that Latin caucus occurs only once, in a work by St. Jerome. A second etymology, closer to home, so to speak, claims that caucus is an Algonquian word, from Virginia Algonquian Cawcawwassough, specifically, and means “elders of the Chickahominy people.” Cawcawwassough dates from 1608, but again there is no “chain of evidence” connecting Cawcawwassough to political clubs in Boston.

how is caucus used?

The Iowa caucuses are never simple. Voters spend hours in high school gymnasiums or public libraries, starting their night by declaring support for their preferred presidential candidate.

Alexandra Jaffe, "New Iowa caucus rules could spark clashing claims of victory," Washington Post, January 16, 2020

The caucuses were supposed to be less important this time. But they still might pick the winner.

Ross Douthat, "Will Iowa Decide the Democratic Nomination?" New York Times, January 14, 2020
Sunday, February 02, 2020

gree

[ gree ]

noun

Chiefly Scot.

the prize for victory.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of gree?

The senses of the very rare noun gree “superiority, mastery; prize for victory” are either obsolete or Scottish. The Middle English spellings include gre and gree; in Middle English the word means “a step, flight of steps; victory in combat; a prize for such a victory; rank, position, dignity,” from Old French gré, grei “a step, degree.” The Old French forms are regular phonetic developments of Latin gradus “a step (literal and metaphorical), pace, stair, rung (of a ladder), tier (of seats), (musical) interval.” Gradus, a derivative of the verb gradī “to walk, step, proceed,” is the ultimate source of English grade, gradual, graduate, and degree. Gree entered English in the early 14th century.

how is gree used?

And here to win gree happily for ever …

James I, "The Kingis Quair," The Poetic Remains of Some of the Scotish Kings, 1824

A false usurper wan the gree, / Who now commands the towers and lands …

Robert Burns, "The Bonie Lass of Albanie," Second Commonplace Book, 1787–90

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.