Word of the Day

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

emulous

[ em-yuh-luhs ]

adjective

desirous of equaling or excelling.

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What is the origin of emulous?

The English adjective emulous, “desirous of equaling or excelling; jealous, envious,” comes from Latin aemulus with the same meanings, both positive and negative. Aemulus is a Latin derivative of the rare Proto-Indo-European root aim-, im– “to copy, imitate.” From that same root Latin derives imāgō (inflectional stem imāgin-) “picture, likeness, reflection (in a mirror),” source of English image, imagine, and imago (a technical term in entomology and psychoanalysis), the Latin verb imitārī “to copy, reproduce, imitate,” source of English imitate, imitation, and the Latin adjective inimitābilis “unable to be reproduced or copied, inimitable.” Emulous entered English in the 14th century.

how is emulous used?

Tastefully emulous, Villard wanted his home to transcend its less fashionable location and magnify its owners through classical restraint rather than ostentatious display.

"New York Bookshelf: Villard: The Life and Times of an American Titan", New York Times, May 13, 2001

“Mr. Hareton is desirous of increasing his amount of knowledge,” I said, coming to his rescue. “He is not envious but emulous of your attainments—He’ll be a clever scholar in a few years!”

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, 1847

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Monday, March 22, 2021

abecedarian

[ ey-bee-see-dair-ee-uhn ]

adjective

arranged in alphabetical order.

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What is the origin of abecedarian?

The English noun and adjective abecedarian has several closely related senses. As a noun, it means “someone learning the letters of the alphabet,” and more loosely, “a beginner in a field of learning.” As an adjective, abecedarian means “pertaining to the alphabet; arranged in alphabetical order; elementary, rudimentary.” Abecedarian comes from Medieval Latin abecedāriānus, a derivative of Late Latin abecedārius, an adjective and noun first used by St. Augustine of Hippo. As an adjective, abecedārius means “pertaining to the alphabet; alphabetical.” As a masculine noun, abecedārius means “one learning the alphabet”; the feminine noun abecedāria means “elementary instruction,” and the neuter noun abecedārium “the alphabet.” The noun abecedarium has been in English since the days of the Old English monk and scholar Byrhtferth of Ramsey, who used the word. In modern English abecedarium is a fairly technical word, meaning “an ancient writing system using an alphabet,” usually referring to the languages of ancient Italy (e.g., Latin, Oscan, Umbrian, Etruscan) and the many dialects and local alphabets of ancient Greece. Abecedarian in the sense “someone learning the letters of the alphabet” entered English in the beginning of the 17th century.

how is abecedarian used?

It turns out that the shared element here is in the placement of the letters of each word: They are in abecedarian sequence, meaning the letters appear in alphabetical order, something more unusual than I first imagined.

Caitlin Lovinger, "Only a Little," New York Times, March 14, 2017

But now that Pie’s name is set and done, the eyes of the Android naming community must turn to the real challenge: this year’s Android 10 Q release. We’ve always known that, one day, we’d have to cross this road, given Google’s abecedarian naming conventions for Android, and with Google I/O 2019 right around the corner, it’s time to revisit this nomenclature nightmare to see what the possibilities are.

Chaim Gartenberg, "What will Google call Android 10 Q?" The Verge, May 6, 2019

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

foozle

[ foo-zuhl ]

verb (used with or without object)

to bungle; play clumsily.

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What is the origin of foozle?

Foozle “to bungle; play clumsily; bungle a stroke at golf,” perhaps comes from German dialect fuseln “to work badly, clumsily, hurriedly.” The verb foozle is somehow connected with the noun foozle “an old fogey; a bungled stroke at golf.” The verb and noun both entered English in the late 1850s.

how is foozle used?

The landscape itself takes on the shape and lineaments of the beloved; according to the fortunes of love, shots desperately flail and foozle or else miraculously take wing and fly over obstacles.

Charles McGrath, "Mixed Greens," New York Times, July 29, 2001

For although I made many excellent, and even brilliant, strokes, I would constantly foozle others, with the result that I never got round the links under 100 …

Robert Marshall, The Haunted Major, 1902

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