Word of the Day

Word of the day


[ hip-nuh-pee-dee-uh ] [ ˌhɪp nəˈpi di ə ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


the act or process of learning during sleep by listening to recordings repeatedly.

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What is the origin of hypnopedia?

Hypnopedia “learning during sleep by listening to recordings repeatedly” is a compound of the Ancient Greek nouns hýpnos “sleep” and paideía “child-rearing, education” (compare encyclopedia, from enkýklios paideía “circular education”). Hýpnos is the Ancient Greek cognate of Latin somnus “sleep”; because Ancient Greek and Latin are both Indo-European languages, the two languages share hundreds of cognates, and Ancient Greek h often corresponds to Latin s at the beginning of a word (compare hyper- and super-). Paideía comes from paîs (stem paid-) “child,” which is also the source of the combining form pedo- or ped- in pedantic, pediatrician, and pedology “the study of children.” Aldous Huxley is the first known user of hypnopedia in print and may have coined the term for his 1932 novel Brave New World.

how is hypnopedia used?

Babies, from earliest days, are exposed to systematic conditioning, designed to make them like the task they are predestined to perform and to dislike what they will not be able to attain …. Moreover, they are exposed to repetitious slogans—whether during sleep (hypnopedia) or in waking hours—which inculcate in them certain basic values and judgments, which agree with and promote their social roles.

Mordecai Roshwald, Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction, 2008

“I just didn’t have the logical aptitudes when I first came. Some things just wouldn’t stick in my head, even in hypnopedia. All the facts in the universe won’t help if you don’t know how to put them together.”

Thomas Sturgeon, The Stars Are the Styx, 1950
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[ pahy-bawld ] [ ˈpaɪˌbɔld ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


having patches of black and white or of other colors; parti-colored.

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What is the origin of piebald?

The Word of the Day is piebald. Piebald is a compound of pie and bald, but not with their normal definitions. The pie in piebald refers to magpies, not to the tasty pastry, and comes from the Latin words for “magpie” and “woodpecker.” The connection is based on the magpie’s black and white plumage. The bald element in piebald means “having white on its head,” as in bald eagle. Some linguists identify bald, which most often means “hairless,” as an old derivative of ball—with the shift in definition from “ball-shaped” to “smoothed” and then to “lacking hair.” Other linguists connect bald to modern English blaze, meaning “white mark on an animal’s face” or “mark made on a tree to indicate a trail,” as in recent Word of the Day trailblaze. Piebald was first recorded in English in the 1580s.

how is piebald used?

Piebald has nothing to do with pieing bald people in the face. In fact, piebald describes a physical characteristic found in many domesticated animals. Instead of walking around with the coat of their wild ancestors—one that is well adapted for the natural environment and can provide camouflage—domestic animals show up to the party essentially wearing a colorful suit.

Julie Hecht, “Some Dogs Wear a Costume Every Day,” Scientific American, October 31, 2015

When the storm broke she emerged, a brilliant sunny morning, the light frantic with nowhere to settle. The cattle sensed her coming and shifted, sleep-eyed, red coats made piebald with matted ice and snow. The goats sprang from their shelter, kicking through the fluff, whether in disgust or delight she couldn’t tell.

Callan Wink, “In Hindsight,” The New Yorker, November 20, 2015
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[ dawnt-lis, dahnt- ] [ ˈdɔnt lɪs, ˈdɑnt- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


fearless; intrepid; bold.

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What is the origin of dauntless?

Dauntless “fearless, intrepid, bold” is a compound of the verb daunt “to overcome with fear” and the combining form -less “without.” Daunt comes from Old French donter and ultimately Latin domitāre “to tame,” a frequentative of domāre, of the same meaning. Frequentative verbs indicate repeated or frequent action, and while English does not create new frequentative verbs today, many verbs ending in -le originally fell into this category; compare bobble from bob, sparkle from spark, and wrestle from wrest. Latin domāre, and therefore daunt, is a distant relative of the words adamant “unyielding in opinion” and diamond, which both come from Ancient Greek damân “to tame.” Thanks to Grimm’s law, which states that Latin and Ancient Greek d correspond to English t, the English cognate of daunt is the verb tame. Dauntless was first recorded in English circa 1590.

how is dauntless used?

In some ways, kids are better equipped to be dauntless than [we are]. They are myopic to outcomes and consequences. And while it’s our job as parents to help them develop the foresight necessary to sustain them into independence, we should also take care to equip them against fear of the future.

“How to Be Dauntless,” Wired, July 31, 2012

With the intimate candor of autobiography, Russo-Young recounts the romance between her mothers Sandy and Robin, their dauntless decision to start an unconventional family in the still-small-minded 80s, and the ensuing legal campaign to keep it intact in the face of an external challenge from her biological father.

Charles Bramesco, “‘They fought hard and all for love’: the lesbian couple who started a family in the 80s,” The Guardian, October 7, 2011
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