Word of the Day

Word of the day


[ in-spir-it ] [ ɪnˈspɪr ɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to infuse spirit or life into; enliven.

learn about the english language

More about inspirit

Inspirit “to infuse life into” is a compound of the prefix in- and the noun spirit, the latter of which comes from Latin spīritus, which originally meant “a breathing.” Spīritus is based on the Latin verb spīrāre “to breathe,” much like how Ancient Greek psȳ́chein “to breathe, blow” is the source of psȳchḗ “a breath” and, from there, English psyche “the human soul, spirit, or mind.” Spīrāre (stem spīr-) gives rise to the English terms perspire, respiration, and even expire, and the verb can be found in the motto of the state of South Carolina: dum spīrō, spērō “while I breathe, I hope.” Inspirit was first recorded in English circa 1605.

how is inspirit used?

And there was the best reason for hastening into the house at once, since the snow was beginning to fall again, threatening an unpleasant journey for such guests as were still on the road. These were a small minority; for already the afternoon was beginning to decline, and there would not be too much time for the ladies who came from a distance to attire themselves in readiness for the early tea which was to inspirit them for the dance.

George Eliot, Silas Marner, 1861

The US women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe is calling for change. The OL Reign standout has fought for activism, equality and LGBTQIA+ rights her entire career …. Now, Rapinoe is looking to help people see politics in an engaging way …. While voter turnout is discouraging among young people, Rapinoe believes those who watch Seeing America could be inspirited to get involved in the civic process. “When we all vote, it’s amazing,” Rapinoe said.

“US Women’s Soccer Star Megan Rapinoe Is On a Mission to Make Politics Cool”, NBC Sports, July 30, 2020
quiz icon
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
arrows pointing up and down
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ vol-tey-ik, vohl- ] [ vɒlˈteɪ ɪk, voʊl- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


noting or pertaining to electricity or electric currents, especially when produced by chemical action, as in a cell; galvanic.

learn about the english language

More about voltaic

Voltaic “pertaining to electric currents” is the namesake of Alessandro Volta (1745–1827), an Italian physicist who experimented with electricity and is credited with inventing the battery. The Italian surname Volta has multiple possible origins, though many of the most popular hypotheses all circle back to the noun volta “turn; vault.” The noun volta ultimately comes from the Latin verb volvere “to roll, wrap,” which is the source of the elements containing vol- in evolution, involve, revolt, and volume. Another option is that the surname Volta derives from volpe “fox,” from Latin vulpēs. Voltaic was first recorded in English circa 1810.

how is voltaic used?

The gas battery’s real history begins in October 1842, when Grove, newly appointed professor of experimental philosophy at the London Institution, penned a brief note …. “I have just completed a curious voltaic pile which I think you would like to see,” he wrote …. Grove had invented a battery which turned hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and water.

Iwan Morus, “How a Victorian lawyer from Wales invented the hydrogen fuel cell,” Conversation, October 27, 2017

What really powers a battery is the difference in electronegativity between the materials its electrodes are made of. Take the voltaic pile, for example, the first battery in history, invented around 1800 by Alessandro Volta. The pile’s negative electrode is made of zinc (30) and the positive electrode is made of copper (29). Copper is slightly more electronegative than zinc. Thus, if you put the two metals next to each other (or if you connect them by a wire), some electrons will move from the zinc to the copper.

Davide Castelvecchi, “The Periodic Table, and Why Batteries Don't Work the Way You Think,” Scientific American, October 13, 2011
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ mon-soon ] [ mɒnˈsun ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


the season during which the southwest wind blows, commonly marked by heavy rains; rainy season.

learn about the english language

More about monsoon

Monsoon “rainy season” is a borrowing by way of obsolete Dutch monssoen from Portuguese monção (earlier moução), and prior to Portuguese, the term arose as Arabic mawsim “season.” Mawsim is a noun formed from the verb wasama “to mark,” which comes from an ancient Semitic root meaning “to become fitting.” This root also appears in Sivan, a month of the Jewish calendar that tends to overlap with May and June. Sivan (Hebrew sīwān) is adapted from the Akkadian word for “season,” so the similarity between Sivan and English season is merely a happy coincidence. Monsoon was first recorded in English circa 1580.

how is monsoon used?

If you’ve never lived in or visited the U.S. Southwest, you might picture it as a desert that is always hot and dry. But this region experiences a monsoon in the late summer that produces thunderstorms and severe weather, much like India’s famous summer deluges …. This year’s monsoon is the third-wettest ever in Tucson, with 12.80 inches (325 millimeters) of rain.

Diana Zamora-Reyes and Christopher L. Castro, “Monsoons make deserts bloom in the US Southwest, but climate change is making these summer rainfalls more extreme and erratic,” Conversation, October 1, 2021

The Indian monsoon, a seasonal event that brings key moisture to an agricultural region where about 20 percent of the world’s population resides, is getting more extreme, researchers report …. The frequency and intensity of extreme events within the monsoon are important, as periods of intense rainfall can lead to floods, while periods of extreme dryness can lead to crop failures, particularly at certain growth states when crops are particularly vulnerable.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn, “Indian Monsoons Are Becoming More Extreme,” Scientific American, April 29, 2014
Word of the Day Calendar

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day in your inbox every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Word of the Day Calendar