Word of the Day

Monday, October 29, 2018

diablerie

[ dee-ah-bluh-ree ]

noun

diabolic magic or art; sorcery; witchcraft.

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What is the origin of diablerie?

English diablerie is a borrowing from French diablerie “mischief,” from Old French diablerie, deablerie “an act inspired by the devil, sorcery.” French diable comes from Late Latin diabolus “the devil” (in the Vulgate and church fathers), from Greek diábolos “slanderer; enemy, Satan” (in the Septuagint), “the Devil” (in the Gospels). Diablerie entered English in the 17th century.

how is diablerie used?

This tragedy, which, considering the wild times wherein it was placed, might have some foundation in truth, was larded with many legends of superstition and diablerie, so that most of the peasants of the neighbourhood, if benighted, would rather have chosen to make a considerable circuit, than pass these haunted walls.

Sir Walter Scott, Guy Mannering, 1815

He was, to one friend, “cometlike from some other world of diablerie, burning himself out upon our skies.”

David Bourdon, "Beardsley back in bloom again," Life, February 24, 1967
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Sunday, October 28, 2018

ossature

[ os-uh-cher, -choor ]

noun

the arrangement of bones in the skeleton or a body part.

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What is the origin of ossature?

Ossature is a borrowing from French ossature, probably modeled on French musculature. The base of ossature is the Latin noun os (stem oss-) “bone,” which comes from the Proto-Indo-European root ost- “bone.” Greek derives from the same root ostéon “bone” (as in osteology), óstrakon “potsherd” (as in ostracize), and óstreon “oyster” (the English noun comes from Greek via Old French and Latin). Ossature entered English in the 19th century.

how is ossature used?

The ossature of its wings had been like the exquisite work of some Japanese cabinet-maker …

James Hopper, "On the Back of the Dragon," Everybody's Magazine, July 1910

… thus the whole vault was furnished with an ossature or skeleton of ribs which was clothed upon by filling in with with arched masonry the triangular spaces or panels between rib and rib.

T. G. Jackson, Reason of Architecture, 1906
Saturday, October 27, 2018

necropolis

[ nuh-krop-uh-lis, ne- ]

noun

a cemetery, especially one of large size and usually of an ancient city.

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What is the origin of necropolis?

Necropolis, Greek for “city of the dead, corpse city,” first appears in the works of the Greek historian and geographer Strabo (c 63 b.c.-c 21a.d.). It was originally the name of the cemetery district in Alexandria, Egypt (founded by Alexander the Great in 323 b.c.). Greek nekrós means “corpse” (its plural nekrói means “the dead”); its combining form necro- forms the first half of necromancy (divination through communication with the dead, one of the blackest of the black arts). Nekrós comes from the Proto-Indo-European root nek- “death,” with a variant nok- “to kill.” From the same root Latin has the noun nex (stem nec-) “murder, violent death” (as in internecine, whose original English meaning was “deadly”). From the variant nok- Latin derives the verb nocēre “to harm” (source of nocent and innocent) and the adjective noxius “guilty, delinquent, harmful, injurious.” Greek pólis “city,” more properly “citadel, fortified high place,” is related to Sanskrit pū́r, puram “city,” as in Singapore “Lion City,” ultimately from Sanskrit siṁha- “lion” and pū́r, puram. Necropolis entered English in the 19th century.

how is necropolis used?

The column of mourners moved under the archway into the necropolis, progressing slowly up the hill towards a spot where Fidelma could see several other torches burning.

Peter Tremayne, Behold a Pale Horse, 2011

Just beyond an island of hemlocks the road divides into the cluttered plain of the necropolis, grey and white as an overexposed snapshot.

Marge Piercy, Braided Lives, 1982

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