Word of the Day

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

frumious

[ froo-mee-uhs ]

adjective

very angry.

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What is the origin of frumious?

The adjective frumious is one of Lewis Carroll’s whimsical creations, appearing in his nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” in Through the Looking Glass (1871). Carroll, in a preface he wrote to a later poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1876), where frumious is also used, etymologized frumious as a blend of fuming and furious.

how is frumious used?

Beware the Jabberwock, my son! / The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! / Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun / The frumious Bandersnatch!

Lewis Carroll, "Jabberwocky," Through the Looking Glass, 1871

As the weeks passed, the frumious language that his supporters used all sounded more and more like the outcry of people sure that they would be cheated of their due and ready to strike the hardest blow that a well-turned period would allow.

Mark Wahlgren Summers, The Ordeal of the Reunion, 2014

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

polyglot

[ pol-ee-glot ]

adjective

a person who speaks, writes, or reads a number of languages.

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What is the origin of polyglot?

Polyglot “one who speaks, writes, or reads several languages,” comes from the Attic Greek polýglōttos “many-tongued (i.e., of an oracle); speaking many languages,” a compound of the prefix poly– “much, many” (from the neuter adjective polý) and familiar in English, for example, in polychrome, polygamous, and polygon. The combining form –glōttos “having a tongue, using a specific tongue or language” is a derivative of glôtta “tongue.” Attic Greek is one of the four Greek dialects in which serious literature is composed, the other dialects being Ionic (Herodotus’ Histories, for example), Aeolic (the lyric poetry of the poets Sappho and Alcaeus), and Doric (the traditional dialect of choral odes in tragedy). The other dialects have the form polýglōssos and the noun glôssa, source of English gloss “a marginal or interlinear translation or explanation of an unusual or difficult word or phrase.” Polyglot entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is polyglot used?

There is a thriving online community of ardent linguaphiles who are, or who aspire to become, polyglots

Judith Thurman, "The Mystery of People Who Speak Dozens of Languages," The New Yorker, August 27, 2018

A taxi cuts you off in Rome. A Mumbai merchant spurns your best offer. A maitre d’ snubs you in Beirut. At times like these, words can fail even the most seasoned polyglot.

James Gibney, "The World's Rudest Hand Gestures," The Atlantic, September 17, 2011

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Monday, February 22, 2021

darg

[ dahrg ]

noun

a day's work.

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What is the origin of darg?

If you know that darg means “a day’s work,” you may be able to figure out that it comes from day and work. Darg comes from Middle English daiwerk, daiwark, daiwork “a day’s work or customary service; a day’s fighting; the amount of land that can be plowed by a team in one day.” The development of the sound seems to be from daiwark to dawark to dark and darg. Darg is the usual form in Scotland and North England. In Australia darg means “a fixed or definite amount of work; a work quota,” a sense that is also found as a coal mining term in mid-19th century Northumberland and Durham, counties in northern England. Darg entered English in the early 15th century.

how is darg used?

I have a lang day’s darg afore me …

Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Mid-Lothian, 1818

I do not like our slack days …. Always feel as if I were not doing my full ‘darg‘ on such; but they give me time for reading, and one is glad to secure that.

J. A. Dyer, "Letter to Dr. Fry, August 27, 1913," Quarterly Paper, Edinburg Medical Missionary Society,  November 1913

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