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an unsegmentable, gliding speech sound varying continuously in phonetic quality but held to be a single sound or phoneme, as the oi-sound of toy or boil.
Diphthong is hard enough to spell and pronounce, let alone define. Diphthong ultimately comes from Greek díphthongos, literally “with or having two sounds,” a compound of the Greek prefix di- “two, twice, double” and the noun phthóngos “voice, sound,” a derivative of the euphonious verb phthéngesthai “to utter a sound, raise one’s voice, call, talk.” Phthéngesthai is also the root of the Greek verb apophthéngesthai “to speak one’s opinion plainly,” whose derivative noun apóphthegma “a brief, pointed saying” comes into English as apothegm or apophthegm, even harder to spell and pronounce than diphthong. Phthéngesthai has no convincing etymology, but some scholars point to “phonetically convincing” Lithuanian žvéngti “to neigh” and speñgti “(in the ears) to resound, hum, drone.” (The Lithuanian and Greek words derive from the Proto-Indo-European root ghwen-, ghwon- “to sound.”) Diphthong entered English in the second half of the 15th century.
The best word ever—according to deep lexicographical research, science, taste, and common sense—is this: diphthong.
It [Atlas of North American English] is vast enough to include 139 color-coded maps and software that lets users click around the country to hear native speakers drop their r’s and overextend their diphthongs with abandon.
Axiomatic ultimately comes from the Greek adjective axiōmatikós, which originally meant “dignified (of persons or literary style); worthy, high in rank”; as a technical term, axiōmatikós in Stoic philosophy meant “employing logical propositions” (not a cocktail party term!); its adverb axiōmatikôs meant “self-evidently.” Axiōmatikós is a derivative of the noun axíōma, literally “something worthy of someone,” hence “esteem, honor, reputation, rank.” As a scientific term, axíōma meant “something assumed as the basis of a demonstration, a self-evident principle” (Aristotle), and in geometry, “axiom.” Some people may remember axiom from high school geometry (Euclidean), e.g., “If A is equal to B, and B is equal to C, then A is equal to C.” Axíōma is a derivative of the adjective áxios “of like value, worth as much as, worthy,” literally “counterbalancing.” Áxios in its turn derives from the verb ágein, one of whose dozens of meanings is “to weigh on a scale, weigh.” Axiomatic entered English in the late 18th century.
It’s axiomatic: Reporters run to the story. They don’t sit it out.
Psychiatry, and society in general, had been subverted by the almost axiomatic belief that “hearing voices” spelled madness and never occurred except in the context of severe mental disturbance.
a slip or blunder in etiquette, manners, or conduct; an embarrassing social blunder or indiscretion.
Faux pas, from French and still unnaturalized in English, literally means “false step,” nowadays referring to a breach in good manners, a social blunder. French faux comes from Old French fals, faus, from Latin falsus, past participle of the verb fallere “to deceive, mislead.” The French noun pas, source of English pace, comes from the Latin noun passus “a step, stride, pace,” a derivative of the verb pandere “to spread (legs, arms, wings), spread out, open.” Faux pas entered English in the second half of the 17th century.
I sat for almost half an hour as they finished preparing, acutely aware of my social faux pas.
I accidentally exposed to them my entire desktop, which felt like a big faux pas despite the fact that there was nothing embarrassing on there at that moment.