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[ hawr-ee, hohr-ee ] [ ˈhɔr i, ˈhoʊr i ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


tedious from familiarity; stale.

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More about hoary

Hoary “tedious from familiarity” is an adjective based on the noun hoar “frost, a grayish-white,” which is of Germanic origin. Because English and German are both Germanic languages, hoary has two cognates in German—hehr “sublime, noble” and Herr “gentleman, sir, mister”—that show a shift in definition from gray hair alone to words of respect for gray-haired individuals. From there, there are at least three possibilities for the ultimate origin of hoary: one hypothesis connects hoary to the same root for color-related words that gives rise to hue, a second option links hoary to an ancient root meaning “to shine,” and a third proposes that hoary shares a source with obscure (via Latin), shadow (via Old English), and the recent Word of the Day sciamachy (via Ancient Greek). Hoary was first recorded in English in the 1520s.

how is hoary used?

It’s a hoary old debate: how much do our genes define how we grow and learn, and how much is due to the environment? A new study by [Augustine] Kong and colleagues shows that parents’ genes, even those not passed on to children, have major effects on kids’ health and educational attainment.

Jenny Graves, “Kids’ learning and health is shaped by genes they don’t inherit, as well as genes they do,” Conversation, January 31, 2018

Webster included [in the dictionary] new American words like “subsidize” and “caucus,” and left out hoary Britishisms like “fishefy.” John Quincy Adams, the future president, was shocked by the “local vulgarisms,” and doubted that Harvard, of which he was a trustee, would ever endorse such a radical “departure from the English language.”

Adam Cohen, “According to Webster: One Man's Attempt to Define ‘America,’” New York Times, February 12, 2006
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[ shuh-grin ] [ ʃəˈgrɪn ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a feeling of vexation, marked by disappointment or humiliation.

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More about chagrin

The story of chagrin “a feeling of vexation” is a rather mysterious one, and the linguistic community is at odds over the word’s origin. One proposal is that chagrin comes from obsolete dialectal French chagraigner or chagreiner “to distress, sadden,” perhaps from Old French graim “sorrowful,” which is related to German Gram “sadness,” combined with Old French chat “cat,” a common metaphorical element in terms related to distress. The other major hypothesis is that chagrin is the same as the French homonym chagrin “rough skin, shagreen,” a variant of sagrin, from Turkish sağrι “rump of a horse.” Chagrin was first recorded in English in the 1650s.

how is chagrin used?

If you’ve wondered why the blizzard dumping snow on the Northeast has a name, look no further than The Weather Channel. At the start of this storm season, the 24-hour-weather network announced, much to the chagrin of The National Weather Service, that it would give names to winter storms.

Elise Hu, “The Blizzard 'Nemo' Highlights The Hype Cycle Of Storms,” NPR, May 21, 2022

He knew keenly Lillian would feel the disgrace, and feared that her shame and chagrin might be so great that she would never write him or look him in the face again. What could he do to lessen the great embarrassment that he knew she must feel.

Otis M. Shackleford, Lillian Simmons; Or, The Conflict of Sections, 1915
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[ lit-i-geyt ] [ ˈlɪt ɪˌgeɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used without object)

to carry on a lawsuit.

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More about litigate

Litigate “to carry on a lawsuit” is based on Latin lītigātus “having gone to law,” the past participle of lītigāre “to go to law.” The verb lītigāre is a compound of two other Latin words: līs (stem līt-) “lawsuit” and agere (stem -ig-) “to do, drive, carry on.” As we learned from the recent Words of the Day fustigate and disambiguate, agere is a rather productive verb with several stems: the present stem ag- appears in agenda, agent, and agile; the reduced stem -ig- is also found in castigate and navigate; and the perfect stem act- is found in action, activity, and exact. Litigate was first recorded in English circa 1610.

how is litigate used?

Tribal nations are forced to litigate, protest, and educate U.S. and state officials on the terms of the treaties and agreements ratified and entered on these lands. The rule of law requires the U.S. as a treaty partner to fulfill its legal obligations and to enforce those obligations against its component state governments.

Angelique EagleWoman, “Tribal nation treaties are legally binding agreements with the U.S.,” Indian Country Today, November 5, 2021

Though Marshall continued to litigate civil rights cases, he was exhausted by the vehemence of states’ resistance to integration. Marshall and his colleagues fought battle after battle as states defied the new law of the land—closing entire public school systems, creating charter schools, and even rioting rather than allow Black students to attend alongside white ones.

Erin Blakemore, “How Thurgood Marshall became the first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice,” National Geographic, October 2, 2020
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