Word of the Day

Saturday, June 12, 2021

dissilient

[ dih-sil-ee-uhnt ]

adjective

bursting apart; bursting open.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of dissilient?

Dissilient, “bursting apart or open,” is primarily a botanical term referring to ripe pods or capsules of some plants bursting apart. Dissilient comes from Latin dissiliēns (inflectional stem dissilient-), the present participle of dissilīre, “to leap apart,” a compound of the prefix dis– “apart, asunder, away” and –silīre, a derivative of the simple verb salīre “to leap, jump, spurt.” Dissilient entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is dissilient used?

Dissilient as milkweed, deprived of cohesion, I am a blown surface.

Joan Houlihan, "You Would Be Warm," The Mending Worm: Poems, 2006

The court was dissilient, generationally fractured, mannered (as it were) by an increasingly impatient and acquisitive nobility.

Eric S. Mallin, Inscribing the Time: Shakespeare and the End of Elizabethan England, 1995

Listen to the word of the day

dissilient

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.
Friday, June 11, 2021

picaresque

[ pik-uh-resk ]

adjective

of, relating to, or resembling rogues.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of picaresque?

The English adjective picaresque, “pertaining to or resembling rogues,” is modeled on Spanish picaresco “pertaining to or resembling a pícaro” (i.e., a rogue or vagabond), which first appears in print in Spanish in 1569. Picaresque in the sense “pertaining to a kind of narrative fiction” first appears in print in English in 1810; Spanish picaresco in the same sense appears in 1836. The etymology of pícaro is contested: it may come from the verb picar “to prick, pierce,” from Vulgar Latin piccāre, and be related to Latin pīcus “woodpecker.” Pícaro first appears in print in Spanish in the first half of the 16th century in the phrase pícaro de cozina “kitchen knave”; it was not a literary term. Pícaro in the sense “hero of a genre of novel” first appears in English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is picaresque used?

Ronnie Cornwell was a picaresque, forceful, charming, world-class con man, and he is the obsession of his famous son to this day.

Timothy Garton Ash, "The Real le Carré," The New Yorker, March 15, 1999

The author … has composed meticulous biographies of each of the complete Gutenberg Bibles that have come down to us. Many have led picaresque lives. Harvard’s copy was briefly stolen, in 1969, by a troubled young man who smashed its glass encasement, took the book, climbed out a window, and knocked himself unconscious when he fell to the ground.

Cullen Murphy, "Our Predictions About the Internet Are Probably Wrong," The Atlantic, January/February 2020

Listen to the word of the day

picaresque

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Thursday, June 10, 2021

ravelment

[ rav-uhl-muhnt ]

noun

entanglement; confusion.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of ravelment?

Ravelment, “entanglement; confusion,” is a compound of the verb ravel “to tangle, entangle” and the noun suffix –ment, here denoting a resulting state. Ravel most likely comes from Dutch ravelen “to become entangled or confused, (of fabric or thread) to fray.” Ravelment entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is ravelment used?

We are prone to seek out one cause as the single cause, which by itself determines all later events in a chain of events. But historical causes are a ravelment and there can be no single turning point from which all events flow.

Gary Saul Morson, Hidden in Plain View, 1987

This jagged shard of American history has become a ravelment of an election, a tangle of confusion and complexity.

Francis X. Clines, "The Latest Stop on a Wild Ride: the Ballot Box, Again," New York Times, December 10, 2000

Listen to the word of the day

ravelment

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.