Word of the Day

Sunday, May 03, 2020

domicile

[ dom-uh-sahyl, -suhl, doh-muh- ]

noun

a place of residence; abode; house or home.

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What is the origin of domicile?

Domicile is a very legal-sounding word. Its general meaning is “place of residence, abode, house or home”; its legal meaning is “permanent legal residence, as for tax obligations or voting rights.” (Thus one may be domiciled in New York, paying state income taxes there and voting there, but also have a weekend residence in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.) Domicile comes from Middle French, from Latin domicilium, formed from the noun domus “house, home” and the suffix –cilium, of uncertain etymology, but probably derived from colere “to live in, inhabit, dwell” (the source of English colony). Latin domicilium has no legal meaning. Domicile entered English in the 15th century.

how is domicile used?

We drove into an older section of the downtown, down a street of brick row houses, and ended up in front of the family’s old domicile

Michael Paterniti, "Mr. Nobody: The Bizarre Story of Sywald Skeid," GQ, June 1, 2007

Choosing the latter alternative, I began by making up my mind to leave the hotel, and take up my quarters in some less pretentious and less expensive domicile. 

Arthur Conan Doyle, "A Study in Scarlet," Beeton's Christmas Annual, 1887

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Saturday, May 02, 2020

sedentary

[ sed-n-ter-ee ]

adjective

accustomed to sit or rest a great deal or to take little exercise.

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What is the origin of sedentary?

There is unfortunately no more apt a word right now than sedentary, “accustomed to sit or rest a great deal or to take little exercise.” Sedentary comes via Middle French sédentaire from Latin sedentārius “sitting, sedentary.” Sedentārius is a derivative of sedēns (stem sedent-), the present participle of sedēre “to sit,” and the very common adjective and noun suffix –ārius, which becomes -aire in French and French borrowings into English (as in doctrinaire, millionaire) and –ary in English (as in complimentary, visionary). Sedentary entered English in the 16th century.

how is sedentary used?

Picture yourself, Jack, a confirmed home-body, a sedentary fellow who finds himself walking in a deep wood.

Don DeLillo, White Noise, 1985

His love of books, his sedentary habits, and quick wit on matters of learning, led those interested in his fate to consider him fitted for the church, and therefore, he took priest’s orders. 

Mary Shelley, The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck, 1830

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Friday, May 01, 2020

inflorescence

[ in-flaw-res-uhns, -floh-, -fluh- ]

noun

a flowering or blossoming.

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What is the origin of inflorescence?

Inflorescence, “the arrangement of flowers on the axis, a flower cluster; a flowering or blossoming,” is a term used mostly in botany. Inflorescence comes straight from New Latin inflōrēscentia, a noun coined by the great Swedish botanist and zoologist Carolus Linnaeus (Carl von Linné), who formalized the system of binomial nomenclature used in the biological sciences. Inflōrēscentia is a derivative of the Late Latin verb inflōrēscere “to put forth flowers, bloom.” Inflōrēscere is a compound verb formed with the preposition and prefix in, in– “in, into,” but also, as here, used as in intensive prefix, and the verb flōrēscere “to begin flowering, increase in vigor.” Flōrēscere in turn is a compound of flōrēre “to be in bloom, be covered with flowers,” a derivative of the noun flōs (inflectional stem flōr-) “flower, blossom,” and the verb suffix –escere, which in Latin often has an inchoative sense, that is, it indicates the beginning of an action, as in rubescere “to become or turn red.” Inflorescence entered English in the 18th century.

how is inflorescence used?

To the amateur this opens a field of very interesting amusement: … watching every moment of the plant till it develops its beauties of inflorescence, which, if it prove of new character, is an ample compensation for the time spent upon the process.

Robert Buist, The Rose Manual, 1844

During fall and winter starch-grains … form the basis for that lavish expenditure of plant-force by which our orchards and woods are made glorious in the sudden inflorescence of spring.

T. H. McBride, "Plant Cells and Their Contents," Popular Science Monthly, July 1882

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