Word of the Day

Thursday, October 01, 2020

finagle

[ fi-ney-guhl ]

verb (used with object)

to get or achieve (something) by guile, trickery, or manipulation: to finagle an assignment to the Membership Committee.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of finagle?

Finagle (or fenagle), “to cheat or swindle a person,” is in origin an American slang word. Finagle is probably a variant of fainaigue, a British dialect term with two meanings: “to shirk work or responsibility” and “to renege at a card game,” that is, to play a card that is not of the suit led when one can follow suit” (this to a layman sounds an awful lot like cheating). A citation from 1839 from Herefordshire (a county in West England) reads, “If two men are heaving a heavy weight, and one of them pretends to be putting out his strength, though in reality leaving all the strain on the other, he is said to feneague [sic].” Fainaigue (feneague) and finagle (fenagle) have no agreed etymology. Finagle entered English in the mid-1920s.

how is finagle used?

Meng pleaded guilty last year to using his position in China to finagle more than $2 million in bribes between 2005 and 2017.

Colin Dwyer, "Former Interpol President Sentenced To Prison In China For Corruption," NPR, January 21, 2020

in order to provide its citizens tests for a pandemic disease, the wealthiest and most powerful nation had to desperately finagle the services of volunteer coders at Google.

, "I Don't Know Who Needs to Hear This, but Brands Can't Save You," New York Times, March 18, 2020

Listen to the word of the day

finagle

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
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, September 30, 2020

susurration

[ soo-suh-rey-shuhn ]

noun

a soft murmur; whisper.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of susurration?

Susurration, “a murmur, whisper,” ultimately comes from the Latin noun susurrātiō (inflectional stem susurrātiōn-), “a murmur, whisper, soft rustling,” a derivative of susurrāt(us), the past participle of the verb susurrāre. Unsurprisingly, susurrāre (and all its derivatives) is onomatopoeic not only in Latin, but also in other Indo-European languages, from the Proto-Indo-European root swer-, swor-, swṛ– “to buzz, hum.” The same root supplies the name of small animals: for instance, the root variant swor– is the source of Latin sōrex (stem sōric-) “shrew, shrew mouse,” Greek hýrax (stem hýrak-) “shrew, shrew mouse, hyrax” and Greek hýron “beehive, swarm (of bees).” The Germanic form swar– (from swor-) supplies English swirl and swarm, Old Norse svarmr “uproar, tumult,” and German schwirren “to buzz (of an insect), whirr (of an arrow).” Susurration entered English in the first half of the 15th century.

how is susurration used?

It must be the whisper of time as it bends over the horizon, a susurration of mortality none can escape.

Dominique Browning, "Interiors," New York Times, December 6, 2013

Leaving the hotel and taking a stroll, I was reminded that the town’s homey otherness is heightened at night. … The susurrations of palms … caress the ear.

Thomas Swick, "A Susurration of Palms," Oxford American, March 28, 2017

Listen to the word of the day

susurration

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

argy-bargy

[ ahr-gee-bahr-gee ]

noun

Chiefly British.

a vigorous discussion or dispute.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of argy-bargy?

Argy-bargy, “a vigorous discussion, dispute,” appears in print in 1887, just 15 years after its “original,” argle-bargle. The argle of argle-bargle is a variant of argue. Yet another variant, argue-bargue, which gives away the entire etymology, appears in 1906. Argle entered English towards the end of the 16th century; its offspring all date from the second half of the 19th century.

how is argy-bargy used?

There appears to have ensued more than two decades of argy-bargy over where the new hall should be located, during which time the merchants would meet at the Chamber of Commerce premises.

Nuala Naughton, Glasgow's East End, 2014

On the international scene, he can only be reassured by the strident argy-bargy between Moscow and Peking, despite some pundits’ predictions that the U.S. stand in Viet Nam could only induce harmony between the two great Communist powers.

"The War: The Greatest Drama," Time, April 1, 1966

Listen to the word of the day

argy-bargy

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

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.