Word of the Day

Sunday, February 02, 2020

gree

[ gree ]

noun

Chiefly Scot.

the prize for victory.

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What is the origin of gree?

The senses of the very rare noun gree “superiority, mastery; prize for victory” are either obsolete or Scottish. The Middle English spellings include gre and gree; in Middle English the word means “a step, flight of steps; victory in combat; a prize for such a victory; rank, position, dignity,” from Old French gré, grei “a step, degree.” The Old French forms are regular phonetic developments of Latin gradus “a step (literal and metaphorical), pace, stair, rung (of a ladder), tier (of seats), (musical) interval.” Gradus, a derivative of the verb gradī “to walk, step, proceed,” is the ultimate source of English grade, gradual, graduate, and degree. Gree entered English in the early 14th century.

how is gree used?

And here to win gree happily for ever …

James I, "The Kingis Quair," The Poetic Remains of Some of the Scotish Kings, 1824

A false usurper wan the gree, / Who now commands the towers and lands …

Robert Burns, "The Bonie Lass of Albanie," Second Commonplace Book, 1787–90
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Saturday, February 01, 2020

fictile

[ fik-tl; British fik-tahyl ]

adjective

of or relating to pottery.

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What is the origin of fictile?

Some of the meanings of the rare adjective fictile are “capable of being molded; made of earth or clay by a potter; pertaining to pottery.” Fictile comes straight from Latin fictilis “made of or pertaining to earthenware, pottery, terra cotta,” a derivative of fictus, the past participle of the verb fingere “to shape (from clay, wax, molten metal, etc.), create, produce, transform.” Also from fic-, a variant of the Latin root fig-, Latin has fictiō (stem fictiōn-) “act of shaping or molding; pretense, personification; supposition, legal fiction” (English fiction). From fig– Latin has the nouns figūra “form, shape, composition, makeup” (English figure) and figmentum “something formed or devised; a fiction or invention” (English figment). Fictile entered English in the 17th century.

how is fictile used?

… in the fictile arts we can not approach the French and Italian potters of the sixteenth …

Henry Van Brunt, "Growth of Conscience in the Decorative Arts," The Atlantic, August 1878

The chief function of clay in the fictile arts is its partial fusion upon firing, and upon this and the skill of the artisan who fires the kiln depends the product, which is wonderfully varied by the mixtures of fluxes and tempering material.

Robert T. Hill, "Clay Materials of the United States," Mineral Resources of the United States, 1893
Friday, January 31, 2020

sagacious

[ suh-gey-shuhs ]

adjective

having or showing acute mental discernment and keen practical sense; shrewd: Socrates, that sagacious Greek philosopher, believed that the easiest way to learn was by asking questions.

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What is the origin of sagacious?

Sagacious derives straightforwardly from the Latin adjective sagāx (stem sagāc-) “having keen (mental) perception or senses (especially of smell)” and is a derivative of the verb sagīre “to perceive keenly.” The Latin forms come from a Proto-Indo-European root sāg-, “to trace, track down, investigate,” from which Greek derives hēgeîsthai (dialect hāgeîsthai) “to go before, guide,” and English derives “seek.” Sagacious entered English in the early 17th century.

how is sagacious used?

This also preserves the long-standing archetype of the infallible, unflappable and sagacious physician.

Jalal Baig, "Why crying over a terminal patient made me a better doctor," Washington Post, February 24, 2019

It was the service of a trained and sagacious mind, a cool and sure judgment.

"Mr. Root as Secretary of War," New York Times, July 23, 1899

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