Start each day with the Word of the Day in your inbox!

Word of the Day

Word of the day


[ en-sawr-suhl ] [ ɛnˈsɔr səl ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to bewitch.

learn about the english language

More about ensorcell

Ensorcell, “to bewitch,” comes from Middle French ensorceler, of the same meaning, which is a dissimilated variant of ensorcerer. Dissimilation refers to when one of two identical sounds in a word happens to change, such as how colonel is pronounced “kur-nl” in US English and February often becomes “feb-yoo-er-ee”; without dissimilation, the two l’s in colonel and the two r’s in February would be preserved in speech. Learn more about dissimilation from the Word of the Day porphyry. Ensorcerer ultimately derives from Latin sors (stem sort-), “lot, fate.” Another descendant of sors today is French sortir, “to exit,” which comes via Latin sortīrī, “to cast lots,” perhaps with the influence of surgere (stem surrēct-), “to spring up, arise, stand up.” Ensorcell was first recorded in English circa 1540.

how is ensorcell used?

He was a hoarder who had all the most beautiful crystal and linens—not to mention Truman Capote’s old sofa—but he never entertained. He sometimes wondered why he could ensorcell so many with his wit and style but not have a lover.

Maureen Dowd, “Farewell, André the Glorious,” The New York Times, January 22, 2022
[Shopping] encompasses exploration and frivolity, not just necessity. It can be immersive, too. While computer screens can bewitch the eye, a good shop has four more senses to ensorcell.

“The emporium strikes back,” The Economist, Jul 13, 2013
quiz icon
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
arrows pointing up and down
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ sel-kooth ] [ ˈsɛlˌkuθ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


strange; uncommon.

learn about the english language

More about selcouth

Selcouth, “strange, uncommon,” comes from Old English seldcūth, which is equivalent to seldan, “seldom,” and cūth, “couth, known, acquainted with.” Seldan has a number of relatives in other Germanic languages, including Dutch zelden, German selten, and Norwegian sjelden, but no known cognates outside the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Cūth was the original past participle of can (Old English cunnan) before it evolved into Middle English coud, gained an l by analogy with should and would, and became could. Selcouth, as a word of Old English origin, was first recorded in English before 900 CE.

how is selcouth used?

From among them one could gather out a whole menagerie of the ‘selcouth‘ beasts and birds and creeping things that have been banished from solid earth into the limbo of Faëry and Romance.

John Geddie, The Balladists, 1896

“But during his convalescence he had a selcouth experience.”
Selcouth? What does that mean?” I said.
“It’s an archaic English word meaning unusual or strange, my unlearned colleague.”

Jonathan Swift Somers III (Philip José Farmer), “The Doge Whose Barque Was Worse Than His Bight,” 1976
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ taw-pee ] [ ˈtɔ pi ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a foolish or thoughtless young person.

learn about the english language

More about tawpie

Tawpie, “a foolish young person,” comprises tawp-, an element of Scandinavian origin, and -ie, a diminutive suffix also found in dearie and sweetie. Tawp- is likely related to Danish tåbe, Norwegian tåpe, and Swedish tåp, all meaning “simpleton, fool,” from Old Norse. Because of the Vikings’ colonization of Scotland a millennium ago, numerous words of Norse origin became entrenched in the languages and dialects of Scotland. One such borrowing is kilt, which may be related to Norwegian kilte, “to bind, fasten up.” Tawpie was first recorded in English in the 1720s.

how is tawpie used?

I’m sure ye have sense as well as good looks. Ye’re not so young as thae light-headed tawpies, with their empty laughs, that have gone out just now, but you’re just in your prime.

Robert Cleland, True to a Type, Vol. I, 1887

Then what for wud ye send us away, and bring in some handless, useless tawpie that cud neither cook ye a decent meal nor keep the Manse wise like?

Ian Maclaren, “Dr. Davidson’s Last Christmas,” Afterwards and Other Stories, 1898
Word of the Day Calendar
Word of the Day Calendar