Word of the Day

Friday, August 24, 2018

glanceable

[ glan-suh-buhl, glahn- ]

adjective

Digital Technology. noting or relating to information on an electronic screen that can be understood quickly or at a glance: glanceable data; a glanceable scoreboard.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of glanceable?

The adjective glanceable is awkward in formation: it means not “able to glance” but “able to be comprehended at a glance,” which is desirable when one sees a large red octagonal sign with STOP in the middle of it, less so in other situations.

how is glanceable used?

I still use my Apple Watch every day. It tracks my health, makes my notifications glanceable, and actually looks nice.

Brandt Ranj, "5 stands to keep your Apple Watch charged all the time," Business Insider, December 27, 2017

He called it the Ambient Orb, and it’s a nice example of what he describes as glanceable technology, a device that presents information in a way that you can read simply and quickly, with just a glance, without taking too much of your attention.

Penelope Green, "Putting Magic in the Mundane," New York Times, July 16, 2014
WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ
Put your wits to the test! New quizzes added weekly.
TAKE THE QUIZ
ALEXA, ENABLE DICTIONARY.COM
Now you can ask Alexa what the Word of the Day is at any time.
ENABLE ALEXA

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.
Thursday, August 23, 2018

capitulate

[ kuh-pich-uh-leyt ]

verb

to give up resistance: He finally capitulated and agreed to do the job my way.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of capitulate?

The English verb capitulate is from the Late Latin capitulātus “drawn up or arranged in chapters or headings,” from the verb capitulāre “to arrange in chapters, summarize, stipulate (in a contract), agree.” Capitulāre is a derivative of the noun capitulum, one of whose meanings in Late Latin is “section of a law,” in the Corpus Juris Civilis of the emperor Justinian (483-565). Capitulate entered English in the 16th century.

how is capitulate used?

He was just too stubborn and pigheaded unless–and here was the one possible case in which he might capitulate–if it were to save his only son.

Wilbur Smith, Birds of Prey, 1997

She realized that living in midtown would shorten her time on the train each day by half, and decided to capitulate. She would stay with her father weeknights, then return to Brooklyn for the weekends.

Elizabeth Gaffney, When the World Was Young, 2014
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

raffish

[ raf-ish ]

adjective

mildly or sometimes engagingly disreputable or nonconformist; rakish: a matinee idol whose raffish offstage behavior amused millions.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of raffish?

Raffish is protean in its meanings and possible origins. Its meanings include “mildly, engagingly nonconformist, rakish; gaudy, vulgar, tawdry.” Raffish is obviously a derivative of the noun raff, but it is with raff that real problems arise. Raff means “rabble, the lower sort of people, riffraff.” Raff may be a shortening of riffraff (earlier riffe raffe), from Middle English rif and raf, a catchall phrase of very uncertain origin meaning “everything, every particle, things of slight value, everyone, one and all.” Related phrases or idioms exist in other languages: Walloon French has rif-raf “fast and sloppy”; Middle Dutch has rijf ende raf “everything, everyone, one and all; Italian has di riffa o di raffa “one way or another.” Raffish entered English in the late 18th century.

how is raffish used?

In trying to look like raffish characters, American men spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on hairpieces, urban cowboy clothes, disco lessons, imported sports cars, aviator glasses, tailored jogging suits or jump suits, health club memberships, and sex manuals.

Mike Royko, "Jay's Bottom Line," Chicago Sun-Times, September 24, 1980

He was wearing a dark suit and a collar and tie, but he had that raffish seediness about him of a newspaper journalist.

M. C. Beaton, The Potted Gardener, 1994
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

kyoodle

[ kahy-ood-l ]

verb

to bark or yelp noisily or foolishly; yap.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of kyoodle?

Kyoodle began as and still may be an Americanism. The word has no distinguished etymology (except for the vague label Imitative), which exactly fits the verb and also one of its noun meanings: mutt, noisy dog. Some distinguished American authors have used the word, however, including John Steinbeck, John O’Hara, and Sinclair Lewis. Kyoodle entered English in the late 19th century.

how is kyoodle used?

No living thing moved upon it, not even a medicine wolf to kyoodle to the invisible moon.

Richard Sale, The White Buffalo, 1975

But the dogs waved their tails happily and sought out a rabbit and went kyoodling after it.

John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat, 1935
Monday, August 20, 2018

squamous

[ skwey-muhs ]

adjective

covered with or formed of squamae or scales.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of squamous?

The adjective squamous is a direct borrowing of Latin squāmōsus “covered with scales, scaly”, a derivative of the noun squāma “scale (on a fish or reptile), metal plate used in making armor.” The ultimate etymology of squāma is unclear, but it is related to squālēre “to be covered or crusted in scales or dirt,” and the derivatives of squālēre include squālidus “having a rough surface” and squālor “roughness, dirtiness, filth.” Squamous entered English in the 16th century.

how is squamous used?

The back was piebald with yellow and black, and dimly suggested the squamous covering of certain snakes.

H. P. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror," Weird Tales, April 1929

They speak no known tongue and are said to sacrifice sailors to their squamous, fish-headed gods, likenesses of whom rise from their stony shores, visible only when the tide recedes.

George R. R. Martin, Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, The World of Ice and Fire, 2014
Sunday, August 19, 2018

lunula

[ loo-nyuh-luh ]

noun

something shaped like a narrow crescent, as the small, pale area at the base of the fingernail.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of lunula?

The uncommon noun lunula is restricted to anatomy, biology, and archaeology or art history. It’s a straightforward borrowing of Latin lūnula, literally “little moon,” but meaning “crescent-shaped ornament” (one of its senses in English). The only common meaning for this uncommon noun is the pale, crescent-shaped are at the base of a fingernail or toenail. Lūnula is a diminutive of lūna “moon,” which is disconcertingly similar to Russian luná “moon.” (The cognate Polish łuna means “glow.”) Both the Slavic and the Latin nouns derive from the same Proto-Indo-European source, louksnā, the same source as Avestan raoxshna- “shining; a light.” (Raoxshna is also used as a proper female name that in Greek is rendered Rhōxánē “Roxane.” The “original” Raoxshna/Roxane was a Bactrian princess born c340 b.c.; she married Alexander the Great in 327 b.c., and was poisoned in prison in 310 b.c.). Proto-Indo-European louksnā becomes in Old Prussian the plural noun lauxnos “stars,” and Middle Irish luan “moon.” All of these forms derive from the very common Proto-Indo-European root leuk- and its variants louk- and luk- “light, bright.” Lunula entered English in the 16th century.

how is lunula used?

It refuses to grow back, the nail of this one finger, the lunula destroyed, a moon permanently obliterated by one smash of his interrogator’s pistol.

Vaddey Ratner, Music of the Ghosts, 2017

I … wore only a simple shift of amber-and-brown plaid wool, and only ghillies, ovals of calfskin, laced around my feet. No golden tore, no silver lunula, nor am I royal of stature or of mien.

Nancy Springer, “The Kingmaker,” Firebird Soaring, 2009
Saturday, August 18, 2018

prima facie

[ prahy-muh fey-shee-ee, fey-shee, fey-shuh, pree- ]

adjective

plain or clear; self-evident; obvious.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of prima facie?

The English phrase prima facie is obviously Latin: prīmā faciē (ablative singular in form) means “at first sight.” (Faciēs has very many meanings: “physical or outward appearance, looks, sight, scene, good looks,….”) It is not incredible that the English phrase at first blush is a literal translation of the Latin phrase: blush, a noun meaning “glance, sight,” is obsolete except for the phrase at (on) (the) first blush. Prima facie entered English in the 15th century.

how is prima facie used?

McCain and Palin have been quoting this remark ever since, offering it as prima-facie evidence of Obama’s unsuitability for office.

Hendrik Hertzberg, "Like, Socialism," The New Yorker, November 3, 2008

There was no prima-facie absurdity in his hypothesis—and experiment was the sole means of demonstrating its truth or falsity.

Thomas H. Huxley, "William Harvey," Popular Science Monthly, March 1878

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.