Word of the Day

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

grok

[ grok ]

verb

Slang. to understand thoroughly and intuitively.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of grok?

Grok was coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961).

how is grok used?

Digital utopians have come in for criticism (sometimes in these pages) for failing fully to grok the messy realities of politics and the virtues of old-fashioned shoe leather in political protest …

Ben McGrath, "Nerd Parade," The New Yorker, January 30, 2012

Our gray matter is so complex, scientists lament, that it can’t quite understand itself. But if we can’t grok our own brains, maybe the machines can do it for us.

Robbie Gonzalez, "AI Just Learned How to Boost the Brain's Memory," Wired, February 6, 2018
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

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.
Monday, April 23, 2018

Falstaffian

[ fawl-staf-ee-uhn ]

adjective

of, relating to, or having the qualities of Falstaff, especially his robust, bawdy humor, good-natured rascality, and brazen braggadocio: Falstaffian wit.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of Falstaffian?

The adjective Falstaffian derives from Falstaff, the family name of Sir John Falstaff, a fictional character in two of Shakespeare’s historical plays (Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2) and in the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. His death is briefly treated in Henry V. Falstaff as a character is fat, vain, boastful, cowardly, bibulous; he lives on stolen or borrowed money and consorts with petty criminals. He has always been a favorite character among playgoers. Falstaffian entered English in the early 19th century.

how is Falstaffian used?

You couldn’t see the top of the harvest table for all the dishes and wine bottles, but I could see Paul presiding at the far end: bawdy, Falstaffian.

Robert Hellenga, The Confessions of Frances Godwin, 2014

To it would his wholesome and happy mind revert, how often! to rest there for the space of a smile, at least, and sometimes long enough for a full, oceanic commotion of mirth, a perfected soul-delivery of Falstaffian laughter.

William MacDonald, "General Preface: A Discourse of Editions Past and Present," Essays of Elia, 1903
Sunday, April 22, 2018

biophilia

[ bahy-oh-fil-ee-uh, -feel-yuh ]

noun

a love of life and the living world; the affinity of human beings for other life forms.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of biophilia?

Biophilia is a New Latin word formed by two Greek combining forms widely used in English, bio- (from bíos “life”) and -philia “love (of).” Biophilia was coined by the German-born U.S. psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1900-80) in The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil (1964) in the meaning “love for humanity and nature, and independence and freedom.” E. O. (Edward Osborne) Wilson, U.S. biologist, theorist, and author (born 1929) expanded the meaning to “the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms” in Biophilia (1984). The word biophilia entered English in 1964.

how is biophilia used?

Indeed, on a per-capita basis, New Zealand may be the most nature-loving nation on the planet. With a population of just four and a half million, the country has some four thousand conservation groups. But theirs is, to borrow E. O. Wilson’s term, a bloody, bloody biophilia.

Elizabeth Kolbert, "The Big Kill," The New Yorker, December 22 & 29, 2014

… that fourth kind of love in Perdita’s bundle–biophilia–isn’t it rather intriguing? … He thinks that all living things have an instinctive orientation toward one another. Biophilia is supposed to be deep in our biological makeup.

Hilary Scharper, Perdita, 2013

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.