Word of the Day

Saturday, April 28, 2018

feint

[ feynt ]

noun

a movement made in order to deceive an adversary; an attack aimed at one place or point merely as a distraction from the real place or point of attack: military feints; the feints of a skilled fencer.

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What is the origin of feint?

The English noun feint comes from Old French feinte, a noun use of the feminine past participle of the verb feindre “to feign, pretend, dissemble.” The Old French verb comes from Latin fingere “to shape, form, fashion,” the ultimate source of English faint, fiction, figment, and effigy. Feint entered English in the 17th century.

how is feint used?

Antagonism in my family comes wrapped in layers of code, sideways feints, full deniability.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves, 2013

… it always had been understood that when the Germans did decide to take the desperate risk of trying to invade England they would make a feint in a couple of places, and, having drawn off the British fleet, would direct their serious attacks somewhere else.

, "Coast Attack Expected," New York Times, December 17, 1914
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Friday, April 27, 2018

treen

[ tree-uhn ]

adjective

made entirely of wood.

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What is the origin of treen?

The adjective treen dates to Old English (about 1000). Its original adjective meanings “made of tree (i.e., wood), wooden; pertaining to trees or a tree” are obsolete or rare in standard English. Its current sense as a noun meaning “(small) articles or utensils made of wood, woodenware” dates from the 20th century.

how is treen used?

Much skill had they in runes, and were exceeding deft in scoring them on treen bowls, and on staves, and door-posts and roof-beams and standing-beds and such like things.

William Morris, The Roots of the Mountains, 1889

In old time we had treen chalices and golden priests; but now we have treen priests and golden chalices.

John Jewel (1522–1571), "Sermon on Haggai," The Works of John Jewel, 1847
Thursday, April 26, 2018

frugivorous

[ froo-jiv-er-uhs ]

adjective

fruit-eating.

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What is the origin of frugivorous?

The English adjective frugivorous “fruit-eating” is used mostly in biology to describe animals that eat fruit. The first element, frugi-, is a combining form of Latin frux “fruit, crops, produce” related to the verb fruī “to enjoy the fruits or products or results of.” From the form frūg- English has frugal and frugivorous. From fructus, the past participle of fruī (from an assumed frūguī), English has fruit (from Old French, from Latin frūctus) and fructify (from Old French fructifier, from Latin frūctificāre). The second element, -vorous, ultimately comes from Latin vorāre “to swallow ravenously,” whence English has devour (from Middle French devourer, from Latin dēvorāre “to swallow down,” and voracious (from Latin vorāc-, the stem of vorax “ravenous, insatiable.” Frugivorous entered English in the 18th century.

how is frugivorous used?

… the frugivorous bats, and the fruit-eating quadrumana, including the gorgeous mandrill, are the most highly-coloured of the Mammalia.

Grant Allen, The Colour-Sense: Its Origin and Development, 1879

Fruit, by the way, was all their diet. … while I was with them, in spite of some carnal cravings, I had to be frugivorous also.

H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, 1895

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