Word of the Day

Thursday, May 14, 2020

insufflate

[ in-suhf-leyt, in-suh-fleyt ]

verb (used with object)

to blow or breathe (something) in.

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What is the origin of insufflate?

There is not an obvious connection between insufflate and soufflé, but it exists. Insufflate comes from Late Latin insufflātus, the past participle of the verb insufflāre “to blow into or upon,” first recorded in Christian Latin authors. Insufflāre is a compound of the common preposition and suffix in, in- “in, into, on, upon” and sufflāre “to blow up from below, blow up,” itself a compound of sub, sub- “below, from below” and the simple verb flāre “to blow, breathe.” Soufflé in French means “puffed up”; it is the past participle of the verb souffler, the regular French development of Latin sufflāre. Insufflate entered English in the 17th century.

how is insufflate used?

They handed a trumpet to the old man, who put it to the lips of the two creatures still suspended in their vegetable lethargy, their sweet animal sleep, and he began to insufflate soul into their bodies.

Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, translated by William Weaver, 1989

If the EU were to give Britain a good deal, it would inspire other countries to leave and might insufflate new life into populist parties that are already gaining more and more support throughout Europe.

Barbara Tasch, "There must be a threat, a risk, a price," Business Insider, October 7, 2016

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

blarney

[ blahr-nee ]

noun

deceptive or misleading talk; nonsense; hooey: a lot of blarney about why he was broke.

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What is the origin of blarney?

Blarney is named after the Blarney stone, a stone set high up on the outside of the parapet of Blarney Castle, and accessible to a kisser who desires eloquence only if he or she leans backward over the parapet to kiss the stone. There are several stories of the origin of the legend about the stone. One of them involves the goddess Cliodhna, queen of the banshees, to whom Cormac Laidir McCarthy, who built Blarney Castle and became involved in a lawsuit, appealed for assistance. Cliodhna told McCarthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court. McCarthy did as the goddess told him, pleaded his case with great eloquence, and won. Blarney Castle is in the town of Blarney, about five miles northwest of Cork, in southwest Ireland. The name Blarney in Gaelic is (an) Bhlarna “(the) little field,” from blair, blar “field.” Blarney entered English in the 18th century.

how is blarney used?

I am a lawyer and would therefore never mislead you: Blarney is not exactly lies, but it’s not exactly the full truth either.

John F. X. Irving, "Blarney—A Political Definition," New York Times, March 13, 1977

Perfect love, I suppose, means that a married man and woman never contradict one another, and that they both of them always feel the same thing at the same moment … What blarney!

D. H. Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, 1925

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

cleek

[ kleek ]

verb (used with object)

to grasp or seize (something) suddenly and eagerly; snatch.

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What is the origin of cleek?

The Scots verb cleek (past tense claucht or claught) “to grasp or seize” comes from Middle English (Northern and Scots) cleke, cleken, a more conservative form than Southern English clechen “to grab, capture.” Both cleke, cleken and clechen come from Old English clyccan “to bend one’s fingers, clench,” the source of Modern English clutch. The Scots noun cleek means “(large) hook (as for hanging a pot over a fire)”; a second sense, from the shape of a cleek, is “arm” (the body part); a third sense, from the second one, “a golf club with an iron head, a narrow face, and little slope, used for shots from a poor lie on the fairway.” The verb cleek entered English in the late 14th century, the noun in the early 15th.

how is cleek used?

Aw’ve sin the’ time when thi’d’n ha’bin cleeked up like lumps o’ gowd.

Edwin Waugh, Sketches of Lancashire Life and Localities, 1855

Archie was just about to cleek him, when he made one terrible rush up water, taking out nearly all my line.

Samuel Abbott, Ardenmohr, 1876

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Monday, May 11, 2020

crepuscular

[ kri-puhs-kyuh-ler ]

adjective

of, relating to, or resembling twilight; dim; indistinct.

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What is the origin of crepuscular?

The euphonious adjective crepuscular, “relating to twilight, dim,” is a derivative of the Latin noun crepusculum “(evening) twilight, dusk” (its opposite, “morning twilight, dawn,” is diliculum, very rare but euphonious in its own right). Crepusculum is most likely a derivative of the adjective creper “obscure, doubtful, uncertain,” of obscure, doubtful, uncertain etymology. Crepuscular entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is crepuscular used?

At dusk the full moon began its rise in the crepuscular light and its glowing would last the entire of that night until it set at dawn.

Robert Olmstead, Far Bright Star, 2009

The whisper of his conviction seemed to open before me a vast and uncertain expanse, as of a crepuscular horizon on a plain at dawn—or was it, perchance, at the coming of the night?

Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, 1900

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How Does The Word "Crepuscular" Relate To Nighttime?

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Sunday, May 10, 2020

materfamilias

[ mey-ter-fuh-mil-ee-uhs ]

noun

the mother of a family.

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What is the origin of materfamilias?

Materfamilias, “the mother of a family,” is not very common in English, even less common than paterfamilias “the male head of a family, householder.” Materfamilias comes from Latin māterfamiliās, a compound of māter “mother” (nominative singular) and familiās “of a family” (the archaic genitive singular of the noun familia, which in classical Latin is familiae). Māterfamiliās is often written in Latin as two words (māter familiās). Materfamilias entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is materfamilias used?

I do not know a more hard-worked, driven creature than the ordinary Materfamilias at the seaside, more especially if she has left her own large airy house, with its nurseries and schoolrooms, and taken lodgings at a fashionable spot, where every inch of space costs pounds, and where she can never rid herself of her family for one moment.

J. E. Panton, Nooks and Corners, 1889

Uncle Dikran … took Shushan’s side in every family dispute, knowing better than to disagree with the omnipotent materfamilias.

Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul, 2007

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Saturday, May 09, 2020

aeolian

[ ee-oh-lee-uhn ]

adjective

of or caused by the wind; wind-blown.

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What is the origin of aeolian?

The chief element of the adjective aeolian is the proper noun Aeolus, the entity, whether human, divine, or semidivine, in charge of and controlling the winds. Aeolus lived on one of the Aeolian (Lipari) Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea just a little north of Sicily. English and Latin Aeolus derives from the Latin adjective Aeolius “connected with, derived from, or descended from Aeolus,” from Greek Aiólos, a proper noun use of the adjective aiólos “quick, nimble.” Aiólos first appears on a Linear B tablet from about the 13th century b.c. as aiwolos, the name of a cow. (Linear B was the very inefficient writing system used for Mycenean Greek in the Late Bronze Age.) The next occurrence of aiólos is much, much grander: It is the second half of the Homeric compound adjective korythaiólos “quickly moving the helmet; with flashing helmet,” part of the poetic formula korythaiólos Héktōr “Hector with the flashing helmet.” Aeolian entered English in the 16th century.

how is aeolian used?

Between June and October, subtropical tempests sweep over the landscape, creating aeolian forms—corrugated ridges caused by wind erosion.

Gulnaz Khan, "Iran's Most Wild and Beautiful Places," National Geographic, March 16, 2017

before the words of these volumes can be enjoyed, the spirit must hear the roar and thunder of the breakers of passion in the distance … and drink in his ear aeolian murmurings, and music from the thrill of spirit wings through the clear marble air.

Edwin Paxton Hood, William Wordsworth, 1856

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Friday, May 08, 2020

garth

[ gahrth ]

noun

a yard or garden.

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What is the origin of garth?

The original meaning of the common noun garth, “an open courtyard enclosed by a cloister,” has been replaced by courtyard or quadrangle or just plain quad. Garth comes from the Middle English noun garth (also gard, gart and a half dozen other spellings) “enclosed courtyard or garden; a hedge or fence,” from Old Norse garthr. The Old English noun cognate with the Old Norse is geard “enclosure, enclosed space, court, dwelling, home” (geard is pronounced about the same as yard). The Old English and Old Norse nouns come from Germanic gardaz “house, garden,” from Proto-Indo-European ghordh-, an extension of the Proto-Indo-European root gher-, ghor- “to enclose.” The extended root ghordh- yields Old Church Slavonic gradŭ “city, garden” (as in the name Stalingrad “Stalin City”), Russian górod, and Polish gród, both meaning “city.” The extended root ghorto- yields Greek chórtos “enclosure, court,” Latin hortus “garden” (horticulture is the cultivation of gardens), Welsh garth, and Irish gort, both meaning “field.” Garth entered English in the 14th century.

how is garth used?

The highest ambition of such men as the Daltons was to possess a cottage and a small garth or close of land for a cow’s summer grazing.

Henry Lonsdale, The Worthies of Cumberland: John Dalton, 1874

For a comfortable habitation, a garden for potatoes, of a rood or half an acre, called a garth

Arthur Young, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Lincoln, 1799

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