Word of the Day

Thursday, April 18, 2019

facultative

[ fak-uhl-tey-tiv ]

adjective

left to one's option or choice; optional: The last questions in the examination were facultative.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of facultative?

The adjective facultative comes via the French adjective facultatif (masculine), facultative (feminine) “conveying or granting a right or power,” from the noun faculté “knowledge, learning, physical or moral capacity.” French faculté is ultimately from Latin facultāt-, the stem of facultās “ability, power, capacity” (originally a doublet of the noun facilitās “ease, ease of performance or completion, facility”). The French adjective suffix –atif, –ative comes from the Latin suffix –ātivus; the English suffix –ative comes from both French and Latin. Facultative entered English in the 19th century.

how is facultative used?

I cannot but be conscious, when this toast of “Science and Literature” is given, that in what tends to become the popular view it is Sir William Grove and Science who are obligatory; it is I and Literature who are facultative.

Matthew Arnold, "Banquet at the Royal Academy," The Times, May 2, 1881

From the facultative point of view, Poe thinks of poetry as a rhythmic and musical use of language which is the province of Taste alone, and which aspires to Beauty.

Richard Wilbur, "Terror Wasn't His Only Talent," New York Times, September 9, 1984
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

lese majesty

[ leez maj-uh-stee, lez ]

noun

an attack on any custom, institution, belief, etc., held sacred or revered by numbers of people: Her speech against Mother's Day was criticized as lese majesty.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of lese majesty?

It is not very often that there is a transparent connection between French (and English) and Latin, but lese majesty is such a term. In modern French the term is lèsemajesté, from Middle French laise majeste “a crime against the king, treason.” The French forms derive from Latin laesa mājestās “injured majesty (of the sovereign people, state, or emperor).” Laesa is the past participle of the verb laedere “to hurt, harm” (of uncertain etymology); mājestās is a derivative of the comparative adjective major “greater, larger, bigger.” Lese majesty entered English in the 15th century.

how is lese majesty used?

At the risk of lese-majesty, it [Windsor Castle] reminded me of a toy castle, part Disney, part Austrian schloss.

Nick Glass, "St. George's Chapel: The historic venue where Harry and Meghan are getting married," CNN, May 3, 2018

… his father was in jail for lese majesty—what you call speaking the truth about the Emperor.

Jack London, The Iron Heel, 1907
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

umami

[ oo-mah-mee ]

noun

a strong meaty taste, often considered to be one of the basic taste sensations along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, imparted by glutamate and certain other amino acids.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of umami?

Umami comes unchanged from Japanese umami “savory taste, delicious taste.” Umami comes from umi-, the inflectional stem of umai “(to be) delicious” and –mi, a suffix forming abstract nouns from adjectives. Umami entered English in the 20th century.

how is umami used?

Complex, creamy and very comforting, its intense umami character was exactly what Ms. Nguyen tried to capture in this garlicky noodle recipe … .

Melissa Clark, "These Generously Buttered Noodles Have Loads of Umami," New York Times, March 15, 2019

Glutamate also occurs naturally in all the foods that we associate with umami: aged hard cheeses, tomatoes, mushrooms, dried and fermented fish and fish sauces, and savory condiments like Marmite and Worcestershire sauce.

Helen Rosner, "An MSG Convert Visits the High Church of Umami," The New Yorker, April 27, 2018

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.