Word of the Day

Monday, April 01, 2019

fool

[ fool ]

noun

British Cookery.

a dish made of fruit, scalded or stewed, crushed and mixed with cream or the like: gooseberry fool.

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What is the origin of fool?

Fool, “a dessert made of scalded or stewed fruit, crushed and mixed with cream,” is just the sort of word to cause an etymological food fight. Fool is probably a specialized sense of fool “a silly or stupid person.” In the late 16th century, trifle, now meaning “something of little value, consequence, or importance,” was a synonym for fool (the dessert), though the dessert we call trifle is now something different. Another (discredited) etymology derives fool from Old French foulex, fole, “a pressing, treading,” from fouler, foler “to press, tread.” Fool (the dessert) entered English in the 16th century.

how is fool used?

The fool, one of the oldest English desserts, is basically nothing more than a mixture of puréed fruit, sugar, and thick cream, the simplest thing in the world.

James Beard, Beard on Food, 1974

One of the simplest ways to prepare strawberries when you want a departure from serving them plain is to chop them into a Fool.

Moira Hodgson, "Desserts Made from the Fresh Berries of Summer," New York Times, July 14, 1985
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Sunday, March 31, 2019

velutinous

[ vuh-loot-n-uhs ]

adjective

having a soft, velvety surface, as certain plants.

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What is the origin of velutinous?

Velutinous, “having a soft, velvety surface or hairs,” is a very rare adjective, a technical term used in botany and entomology. Velutinous comes directly from the New Latin adjective velūtīnus “velvety,” from Medieval Latin velūtum “velvet.” Velūtum possibly comes from assumed Vulgar Latin villūtus, from Latin villus “shaggy nap.” Velutinous entered English in the 19th century.

how is velutinous used?

He picked up his bread, pulled open the crust so the soft velutinous white inside was exposed, pushed it into a piece of omelet, then lifted the dripping morsel to his lips and bit upon it.

M. J. Carter, The Devil's Feast, 2016

The deep shag of a plush carpet was beneath our feet and velutinous purple flocked wallpaper covered the walls.

Cavan Scott, Sherlock Holmes: Cry of the Innocents, 2017
Saturday, March 30, 2019

nadir

[ ney-der, ney-deer ]

noun

the lowest point; point of greatest adversity or despair.

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What is the origin of nadir?

Nadir comes via Middle French and Late Latin nadir “point opposite the sun, point opposite the zenith” from Arabic naẓīr (as-samt) “opposite (the zenith).” Arabic samt is the source of zenith. Nadir (and zenith) entered English in the late 14th century.

how is nadir used?

At the nadir of the global stock market crash in March 2009, the kronor hit a low of 8.48 euro cents per kronor ….

Heather Farmbrough, "After Sweden's Election, What Next for the Kronor?" Forbes, September 8, 2018

… [the] fragment was hurled from what had seemed the nadir of horror to black, clutching pits of a horror still more profound.

H. P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, "Through the Gates of the Silver Key," Weird Tales, July 1934

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