Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, September 06, 2021

indefatigable

[ in-di-fat-i-guh-buhl ]

adjective

incapable of being tired out; not yielding to fatigue; untiring.

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What is the origin of indefatigable?

Indefatigable “incapable of being tired out” has changed little in spelling and meaning since its origin as the Latin adjective indēfatīgābilis “untiring” or, more literally, “not-tire out-able.” This adjective derives from the verb fatīgāre “to tire,” the source of English fatigue (via French), but its ultimate origin is unknown. The most compelling theory is that fatīgāre comes from a hypothesized adjective, fatis “gaping open” or “yawning,” found also in the verb fatīscere “to grow weak” or “to crack open.” Indefatigable entered English in the late 1500s.

how is indefatigable used?

[W]ith enlarged lungs adapted to life on the 15,000-foot-high, oxygen-starved Tibetan Plateau, Nangchen steeds were bred to be inexhaustible and sure-footed on snowy passes. … I am captivated by the possibility that back in the deep valleys Tibetans might still ride their indefatigable horses along the original trail.

Mark Jenkins, "The Forgotten Road," National Geographic, May 2010

At the age of sixty-eight, Tolstoy was given a tennis racket and taught the rules of the game. He became an instant tennis addict….All summer long, Tolstoy played tennis for three hours every day. No opponent could rival Tolstoy’s indefatigable thirst for the game of tennis…

Elif Batuman, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, 2010

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Word of the day

Sunday, September 05, 2021

vicinage

[ vis-uh-nij ]

noun

a particular neighborhood or district, or the people belonging to it.

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What is the origin of vicinage?

Vicinage “a particular neighborhood or district” is a fusion of the Latin adjective vīcīnus “nearby” and the English suffix -age, which forms nouns from other parts of speech. Vīcīnus derives from the noun vīcus “village, hamlet,” which is the source of the suffixes -wich and -wick in English placenames, such as Greenwich and Brunswick, and comes from the Indo-European root weik- “clan” or “settlement.” This same root is the source of villa, from the Latin word for “country house,” and the Ancient Greek noun oikos “home,” which gives English ecology, economy, parochial, and parish.

how is vicinage used?

I drove out to Tara Estates, among the latter-day manors that lined the circling drives and culs-de-sac and stood like arrogant bastions against the ripe green earth. There were no sidewalks here, no signs of age, no mystery, as if the whole vicinage had risen up en masse at an hour in time so designated and precise that history itself had been obliterated.

Willie Morris, Taps, 1977

The Island of Mackinac has a circumference of about nine miles, and its shores and vicinage are picturesque and romantic in the highest degree.

T. Addison Richards, Appletons' Illustrated Hand-book of American Travel, 1857

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Word of the day

Saturday, September 04, 2021

connubial

[ kuh-noo-bee-uhl, -nyoo- ]

adjective

of marriage or wedlock; matrimonial; conjugal.

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What is the origin of connubial?

Connubial “of marriage or wedlock” derives from Latin cōnūbiālis, from cōnūbium “wedding,” plus the adjective-forming suffix -ālis. Cōnūbium, in turn, is a compound of com- “together, with” and nūbere “to wed,” and nūbere (stem nupt-) is the source of marriage-related words such as nubile, nuptial, and prenup. Nūbere is of obscure origin, but one theory is that its original definition was “to cover oneself with a veil,” which would suggest a derivation from nūbēs “cloud.”

how is connubial used?

She and Maurice were husband and wife. They loved one another. They would have children. Then let everybody and everything else fade into insignificance outside this connubial felicity.

D. H. Lawrence, “The Blind Man,” England, My England and Other Stories, 1922

In fact, by the epilogue it’s dateline Hawaii, where he is on his honeymoon—soft breezes blowing into the connubial bedchamber, his bride frolicking on the beach below—and putting in a wholehearted endorsement for the grand old institution of marriage.

Caitlin Flanagan, "Sticking Together," The Atlantic, October 2003

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