Word of the Day

Sunday, May 17, 2020

dishabille

[ dis-uh-beel, -bee ]

noun

the state of being dressed in a careless, disheveled, or disorderly style or manner; undress.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of dishabille?

Dishabille or deshabille “the state of being dressed in a careless, disheveled, or disorderly style or manner,” comes from French déshabillé, the noun use of the past participle of the verb déshabiller “to undress.” The French prefix dés– is a regular development of the Latin prefix dis-, which often has, as here, a reversing force (like un– in the English pair tie and untie). The French verb habiller “to dress,” originally “to trim and smooth (a log for working), to arrange, prepare,” comes from Vulgar Latin adbilāre, abbilāre, a derivative of bilia “log, tree trunk” (originally a Gaulish word). The h– in habiller comes from the French noun habit “clothing” (from Latin habitus “physical condition, appearance, dress”). Dishabille entered English in the 17th century.

how is dishabille used?

It is daylight; is, then, the carriage to open and the empress to alight with one slipper on her feet, to be triumphantly conducted into the house? Ah, my friend, all Europe would smile at the idyllic empress who accompanied her husband on his journey in such a dishabille.

Luise Mühlbach (1814–1873), Napoleon and the Queen of Prussia, translated by F. Jordan, 1906

Yes, there are town houses, and yes, many prominent people hold the deeds to them because they don’t want to be seen in dishabille scooping up the morning paper ….

Joanne Kaufman, "Stargazing in the Elevator," New York Times, November 2, 2012

Listen to the word of the day

dishabille

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.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

chariness

[ chair-ee-nis ]

noun

scrupulous integrity.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of chariness?

Chary, the adjective from which chariness derives, comes from the Middle English adjective chari, charry, cearig “actively concerned, diligent; sad, sorrowful; cherished (of a person).” Chari comes from the Old English adjective cearig, ceari “careful, grieving, pensive, wary, anxious, dire.” The Old English adjective is a derivative of the noun cearu, caru “sorrow, grief” (Modern English care). Chariness entered English in the 16th century.

how is chariness used?

Nay, I will consent to act any villainy against him, that may not sully the chariness of our honesty.

William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1623

The reason for the chariness of the broker is that most of his transactions are carried through on credit and he runs many dangers if he cannot have absolute confidence in the integrity, both financial and otherwise, of his client …

Edith Wharton, "Why the English Broker Does Not Want to Sell Direct," System: The Magazine of Business, April 1919

Listen to the word of the day

chariness

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Friday, May 15, 2020

melee

[ mey-ley, mey-ley, mel-ey ]

noun

confusion; turmoil; jumble.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of melee?

Melee, also spelled mêlée, has been in English since the mid-17th century; yet its spellings and several pronunciations show that it is still not naturalized. Melee comes from Old French melee, meslee, medlee “mixture, argument, confused hand-to-hand fighting,” from Old French mesler, medler, mesdler, from Vulgar Latin misculāre, Latin miscere “to mix.” Medler is also the source of English medley; mesler is the source of the second half of pell-mell (from Middle French pelemele, Old French pesle mesle).

how is melee used?

The fifteen dogs were off leash, creating a melee of barking, squeaking squeaky toys, and the voices of puppy raisers shouting “Leave it!,” “Bring it!,” and “Good puppy!”

Lizzie Widdicombe, "Puppies Behind Bars, with Glenn Close," The New Yorker, November 20, 2017

A recent tussle between Maduro loyalists and the U.S.-backed opposition for control of Venezuela’s National Assembly descended into a melee of competing claims that left neither side with clear authority over the assembly.

Kejal Vyas, "Behind Maduro's Latest Power Play: Reviving Venezuela's Collapsed Oil Industry," Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2020

Listen to the word of the day

melee

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.