Word of the Day

Monday, March 29, 2021

effulgent

[ ih-fuhl-juhnt, ih-fool- ]

adjective

shining forth brilliantly; radiant.

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What is the origin of effulgent?

The adjective effulgent, “shining forth brilliantly, radiant,” comes from Latin effulgēns (inflectional stem effulgent-), the present participle of effulgēre “to shine forth, blaze, flash,” a compound of the prefix ef-, a variant of ex– “out, out of, forth” (also used as an intensive), and the simple verb fulgēre “to shine brightly.” The Latin root fulg– is an extension (with –g) of the complicated Proto-Indo-European root bhelbhlē-, bhḷ– “to shine, blaze, burn.” Latin fulg– also appears in fulmen (from an unrecorded fulgmen) “lightning, thunderbolt,” source of English fulminate “to explode loudly, detonate.” Also related is the Latin verb flagrāre “to be ablaze, burn,” the source of English flagrant, now meaning “shockingly noticeable or glaring,” but formerly “blazing, burning.” From flagrāre Latin also derives flamma “flame” (from an unrecorded flagma). Effulgent entered English in the first half of the 18th century.

how is effulgent used?

She stood, while she thus spoke, under an effulgent chandelier, whose jets, wrought in the semblance of candles, dispersed from ornate metallic sconces a truly splendid glow. 

Edgar Fawcett, The Adventures of a Widow, 1884

Gilliam broke ranks with the movement—or extended it—in the mid-sixties, when he began draping vast unstretched paint-stained and -spattered canvases from walls and ceilings, creating undulant environments that drenched the eye in effulgent color.

Peter Schjeldahl, "How to Read Sam Gilliam's Formalism," The New Yorker, November 16, 2020

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Sunday, March 28, 2021

palmary

[ pal-muh-ree, pahl-, pah-muh- ]

adjective

having or deserving to have the palm of victory or success; praiseworthy.

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What is the origin of palmary?

The adjective palmary, “deserving the palm of victory; praiseworthy,” comes from the Latin adjective and noun palmārius. As an adjective, palmārius means “pertaining to palm trees”; as a neuter noun, palmārium means “masterpiece, masterstroke,” and somewhat less nobly, “the fee for an advocate who wins his case.” Palmārius is a derivative of the noun palma “palm (of the hand); the width of a palm (as a measurement); palm tree (so called from the shape of its leaves); a palm branch awarded to the winner in a contest, first place.” Palma comes from an earlier, unrecorded palama, from Proto-Indo-European pḷəmā, and is closely related to Greek palámē “hand, flat of the hand, means, device,” and also to Old Irish lām (Proto-Celtic loses initial p-), Old High German folma (Proto-Indo-European p becomes f in Proto-Germanic), and Old English folm, all meaning “hand, flat of the hand.” Palmary entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is palmary used?

One of Mr. Seitz’s gifts is his culinary vision, and his successes are palmary.

M. H. Reed, "Unhurried Culinary Vision in Brewster," New York Times, August 29, 1993

Her book is, in fact, a palmary example of a new phenomenon in scholarly publishing, the avowedly imaginative reconstruction of a historical figure’s life and world.

Michael Kulikowski, "Butcher Boy," London Review of Books, Vol. 32, No. 8, April 2010

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

matzo

[ maht-suh; Sephardic Hebrew mah-tsah; Ashkenazic Hebrew mah-tsaw ]

noun

unleavened bread in the form of large crackers, typically square and corrugated, eaten during Passover.

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What is the origin of matzo?

Most Americans are familiar with matzo “unleavened bread in the form of large crackers,” because food stores routinely stock matzo on their shelves, especially just before Passover, which occurs in the early spring. Matzo comes via Yiddish matse (plural matses) from Hebrew maṣṣāh (plural maṣṣōth). Maṣṣāh comes from a West Semitic root meaning “to be or become sour, ferment.” Matzo entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is matzo used?

Every spring, we piled into the station wagon with my dad, who drove miles in search of a grocery store that sold Passover food. In a larger town, twenty minutes away, we could usually find a few Manischewitz products on a bottom shelf—a dusty jar of borscht, a tin of macaroons, a box of matzo. That orange-and-green logo was a beacon.

Elizabeth Weiss, "Kosher for Gentiles," The New Yorker, April 11, 2014

At its most traditional, matzo is made from just flour and water. But adding a little salt for flavor and olive oil for richness yields an airy, tender matzo that’s easy to make.

Melissa Clark, "Easy Matzo," NYT Cooking

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