Word of the Day

Thursday, September 13, 2018

exoteric

[ ek-suh-ter-ik ]

adjective

popular; simple; commonplace.

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What is the origin of exoteric?

Exoteric, the opposite of esoteric, comes from Latin exōtericus “popular (e.g., of books); not overly technical or abstruse,” a borrowing of Greek exōterikós “external, outside, popular.” The first element of the Greek word is the adverb éxō “out, out of, outside”; the last element, -ikós, is a typical adjective suffix. The middle element, -ter-, is usually called a comparative suffix, which is only one of its functions. The suffix -ter is also used in Latin and Greek to form natural or complementary pairs, e.g., Latin nōster “our” and vester “your,” and dexter “right (hand)” and sinister “left (hand).” The Latin adjectives correspond with Greek hēméteros “our” and hyméteros “your,” and dexiterós “right (hand)” and aristerós “left (hand).” Aristerós is a euphemism meaning “better (hand)” (áristos means “best” in Greek, as in aristocracy “rule of the best”). Exoteric entered English in the 17th century.

how is exoteric used?

I was on a holiday, and was engaged in that rich and intricate mass of pleasures, duties, and discoveries which for the keeping off of the profane, we disguise by the exoteric name of Nothing.

G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles, 1909

Practical or exoteric alchemy was concerned chiefly with attempts to prepare the philosopher’s stone, a hypothetical transmuting and healing agent capable of curing the imagined diseases of metals and the real ones of man.

John Read, "A grandiose philosophical system," New Scientist, February 21, 1957
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

reticulation

[ ri-tik-yuh-ley-shuhn ]

noun

a netlike formation, arrangement, or appearance; network.

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What is the origin of reticulation?

Reticulation Is a derivative of the adjective reticulate (and the noun suffix -ion), of Latin origin. Reticulate comes from Latin rēticulātus “covered with a net, having a netlike pattern,” a derivative of the noun rēticulum “small net, a network bag,” itself a derivative of rēte “net (for hunting, fishing, fowling).” Reticulation entered English in the 17th century.

how is reticulation used?

… Ralph Marvell, stretched on his back in the grass, lay gazing up at a black reticulation of branches between which bits of sky gleamed with the hardness and brilliancy of blue enamel.

Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country, 1913

Her appearance has changed as well, and I don’t mean just the intense reticulation of lines and wrinkles, the true stigmata of life.

Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman, 2013
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

atweel

[ uh-tweel, at-weel ]

adverb

Scot. surely.

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What is the origin of atweel?

Atweel is an alteration and contraction of Scots (I) wat weel, (I) wot well in standard if archaic English, meaning (I) know well in modern standard English. Unsurprisingly, atweel is found only in Scottish authors, the two most famous being Robert Burns (1759–1796) and Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832). Atweel entered English in the 18th century.

how is atweel used?

Atweel, I can do that, and help her to buy her parapharnauls.

John Galt, The Entail, 1823

Atweel, I dinna ken yet.

George MacDonald, Robert Falconer, 1868

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