Word of the Day

Friday, October 16, 2020

diction

[ dik-shuhn ]

noun

style of speaking or writing as dependent upon choice of words.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of diction?

Diction ultimately comes from Latin dictiō (inflectional stem dictiōn-) “speaking, act of speaking, (oracular) utterance, word, expression,” a derivative of the verb dīcere “to say, speak, talk.” Dictiō, though a word in general Latin vocabulary, is naturally connected very closely with rhetoric and law, two very important professions among the Romans. Dīcere, earlier deicere, comes from the very common Proto-Indo-European root deik- (also deig-), dik- (dig-) “to show, point out,” and appears in Greek deíknysthai “to show, point out,” Gothic ga-teihan “to show, make clear,” and German zeigen “to show.” The 13th-century English philologist, grammarian, and university professor John of Garland coined the word dictiōnārius as the title for one of his Latin textbooks in which he grouped lexical items thematically. Garland explained that his dictiōnārius was not based on the sense of dictiō as a single word, but dictiō in the sense of connected discourse. In the 14th century the Benedictine monk, translator, and encyclopedist Pierre Bersuire used the term dictiōnārium as the title for an alphabetical encyclopedia of the Vulgate (St. Jerome’s version of the Latin Bible, completed at the end of the 4th century). By the 15th century, dictiōnārium acquired the generalized sense “alphabetized wordbook.” Diction entered English in the 15th century.

how is diction used?

She did more than powder noses; she advised on diction and apparel and helped commanders in chief put their best selves forward for television.

Katharine Q. Seelye, "Lillian Brown, Makeup Artist to Nine Presidents, Dies at 106," New York Times, September 29, 2020

His diction mirrors the emotional gravity in each scene, which, combined with raw honesty, is what makes his writing so relatable.

Khrysgiana Pineda, "Review: Bill Clegg's 'The End of the Day' a story of friendship, love and memory," USA Today, September 30, 2020

Listen to the word of the day

diction

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
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.
Thursday, October 15, 2020

totis viribus

[ toh-tis -wee-ri-boos; English toh-tis -vir-uh-buhs ]

adverb

Latin.

with all one's might.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of totis viribus?

The English adverbial phrase totis viribus, “with all (one’s) might,” comes straight from the Latin phrase tōtīs vīribus, the ablative plural of the adjective tōtus “all, entire, the whole of” and the noun vīs (plural inflectional stem vīr-) “strength, physical strength, force.” More fully, the phrase tōtīs vīribus is an ablative of manner, just in case it’s on tomorrow’s quiz. Totis viribus is uncommon in English; it is used, as one would expect, mostly by lawyers. Vīs has an exact equivalent in Greek ĩs (also wĩs in some dialects), “force, might,” a Homeric word that appears in the instrumental case form ĩphi in the poetic formulas ĩphi máchesthai “to fight with strength,” and ĩphi anássein “to rule with might.” Totis viribus entered English in the 16th century.

how is totis viribus used?

As a fictitious autobiographer—in the power, or at least in the fidelity, of first conceiving a character, and then throwing himself into it totis viribus, and by ten thousand strokes of humour, sense, an observation … Mr. Galt surpasses every writer certainly of this day, and perhaps of any time.

"Review of New Books: Bogle Corbet; or, the Emigrants", The London and Paris Observer, June 12, 1831

If a man say totis viribus, he will resist. The literal meaning is not that he will resist by blood or by force of arms. It is a common expression among lawyers at the bar, “I will resist such an attempt totis viribus.”

Argued by Moses Levy, "The Trial of Frederick Eberle and Others for Conspiracy to Prevent the Use of the English Language, 1816," American State Trials, Vol. 12, 1919

Listen to the word of the day

totis viribus

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

doldrums

[ dohl-druhmz, dol-, dawl- ]

noun

(used with a plural verb)

a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of doldrums?

Doldrums is the plural of doldrum, which had two very early meanings: the plural doldrums meant “a state or period of inactivity or stagnation” (1811), the singular doldrum “a dullard, a slow, stupid person” (1812). The later, sailing sense of doldrum, “a becalmed ship,” dates to 1823, and “a region in which ships are likely to become becalmed” dates to 1855. The etymology of doldrum(s) is difficult: it seems to have originated as a slang term (and slang terms are notoriously difficult to etymologize), possibly from dold “stupid,” originally a past participle of Middle English dollen, dullen “to dull,” or possibly from the adjective dull. The second syllable, –drum, is probably the same as in tantrum, which, unfortunately, has no satisfactory etymology. Doldrum and doldrums entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is doldrums used?

countries in economic doldrums may exit the pandemic more reliant on Chinese capital and markets rather than less so.

Richard Fontaine, "China Has Squandered Its First Great Opportunity," The Atlantic, July 30, 2020

A decade later, amid the doldrums of the 1970s, politicians were starting to worry about the financial implications of government regulations.

Adam Rogers, "How Much Is a Human Life Actually Worth?" Wired, May 11, 2020

Listen to the word of the day

doldrums

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

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.