Word of the Day

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

fungible

[ fuhn-juh-buhl ]

adjective

being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.

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What is the origin of fungible?

Fungible, with its precise definition “(especially of goods) of such a kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable for another of similar kind,” is pretty much restricted to law and finance. However the term is also used with a more general meaning of “interchangeable.” Fungible comes from Medieval Latin fungibilis “useful, interchangeable,” used especially in the legal term rēs fungibilēs “fungible things, interchangeable items.” Fungibilis is a derivation of Latin fungī “to perform the office of, enjoy.” Fungī forms part of the idiomatic phrase fungī vice or fungī prō “to take the place of,” which supplies the meaning for fungibilis. Fungible entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is fungible used?

Facebook and Google need content, but it’s all fungible.

Alexis C. Madrigal, "Prepare for the New Paywall Era," The Atlantic, November 30, 2017

Given that the Hong Kong-listed shares and the New York ones will be completely fungible, Alibaba can easily sell $13 billion of shares … at a small discount to its current share price.

Jacky Wong, "Hong Kong's Protests Won't Derail Alibaba's #13 Billion Listing," Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2019

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

mirabilia

[ mee-rah-bil-i-ah; English mir-uh-bil-ee-uh ]

plural noun

Latin.

marvels; miracles.

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What is the origin of mirabilia?

In English, mirabilia is a plural noun meaning “miracles, wonders.” Mirabilia comes straight from Latin mīrābilia, a noun use of the neuter plural of the adjective mīrābilis “wonderful, marvelous, remarkable, singular.” In the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible, prepared chiefly by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century a.d.,) the adjective mīrābilis means “glorious, miraculous;” the noun use, mīrābile in the singular, mīrābilia in the plural, means “wondrous deed, miracle.” The corresponding form in Vulgar Latin, mīribilia (noun), regularly becomes merveille in Old French, merveille in Middle English, and marvel in English. Mirabilia entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is mirabilia used?

Reading this compendium is like exploring a cabinet of curiosities, each section home to uncanny and startling mirabilia.

Kanishk Tharoor, "Aphrodisiacs? Search This Medieval Islamic Encyclopedia," New York Times, October 7, 2016

in Rome you caused mirabilia to appear that the Romans themselves had never dreamed of, starting with the gabble of that Hugo of Jabala …

Umberto Eco, Baudolino, translated by William Weaver, 2002

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Monday, July 20, 2020

singularity

[ sing-gyuh-lar-i-tee ]

noun

a hypothesized future era or event when exponential improvements in computer intelligence and advances in technology will result in an acute change in human society and evolution.

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What is the origin of singularity?

Singularity comes from Middle English singularite, singulerite “solitude, solitary living; personal gain or advantage; individual or particular things; singleness of purpose,” from Old French singulerte, singulariteit “singular character or quality; peculiarity” or from Late Latin singulāritās (inflectional stem singulāritāt-) “a being alone or by oneself,” a derivative of the adjective singulāris “alone, alone of its kind, one by one, singular.” The computer or technological sense, “a hypothesized future in which exponential improvements in computer intelligence and technological advances result in an acute change in human society and evolution,” is closely associated with the computer scientist and science fiction author Vernor Vinge, who popularized this sense in his writings, most notably in his 1986 novel Marooned in Realtime, and later in an article titled “Technological Singularity” published in Whole Earth Review in 1993. Singularity entered English in the 14th century.

how is singularity used?

A lot of smart people are thinking about the singularity, when the machines grow advanced enough to make humanity obsolete.

Matt Simon, "The WIRED Guide to Robots," WIRED, April 16, 2020

But fulfilling the wishes of a revered biological legacy will occupy only a trivial portion of the intellectual power that the Singularity will bring.

Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, 2005

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