Word of the Day

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

interlard

[ in-ter-lahrd ]

verb (used with object)

to diversify by adding or interjecting something unique, striking, or contrasting.

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What is the origin of interlard?

The verb interlard, “to diversify by adding something striking or contrasting,” comes from the Middle English verb interlarden, enterlard(e) “to mix fat into,” from Old French entrelarder. The Old French verb is a compound of the preposition entre “between” and the verb larder “to cook with lard or bacon fat.” Entre, which appears in English entre nous “between ourselves, confidentially,” is a regular development from Latin inter “between,” which (unlike entre) is thoroughly naturalized in English, as in international, interstate, intercity. The verb larder “to cook with lard or bacon fat,” comes from the Latin noun lāridum, lardum “bacon, salted meat.” The Greek adjective larinós “fattened, fat” is related to lāridum, lardum; Greek also borrowed lardum as lárdos “salted meat.” Interlard entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is interlard used?

More than by the tone was Andre-Louise startled by the obscenities with which the Colossus did not hesitate to interlard his first speech to a total stranger. He laughed outright. There was nothing else to do.

Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche, 1921

The modern Old Farmer’s Almanac, though it contains a lot of hooey interlarded with its tables of sun declination and length of day, is much less a remnant of our degraded information ecosystem than a harbinger of it.

Scott Huler, "What does the pseudoscience of the Old Farmer's Almanac say about today's climate?" Washington Post, December 28, 2017

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Monday, May 31, 2021

remembrancer

[ ri-mem-bruhn-ser ]

noun

a reminder; memento; souvenir.

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What is the origin of remembrancer?

Remembrancer, “a reminder; memento; souvenir,” comes from Middle English remembrauncer, the title of one of the royal officers responsible for recording and collecting debts owed to the crown, one of the current senses of the word, used in British royal finances. In Middle English remembrauncer also referred to death, the one who enforces our obligation to die on the due date. Remembrancer entered English in the 14th century.

how is remembrancer used?

And on the few surviving steamboats—those lingering ghosts and remembrancers of great fleets that plied the big river in the beginning of my water-career … there are still findable two or three river-pilots who saw me do creditable things in those ancient days …

Mark Twain, Is Shakespeare Dead?, 1909

I must do this as a precaution, you understand, lest the keys should fall into improper hands; into the hands of designing and unscrupulous persons, who have no claim on my brother whatever, and no right to expect more than a book or a teacup as a remembrancer.

S. Baring-Gould, The Pennycomequicks, 1889

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Sunday, May 30, 2021

acme

[ ak-mee ]

noun

the highest point; summit; peak.

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What is the origin of acme?

Acme, “the highest point; summit; peak,” comes straight from Greek akmḗ “point, highest point, extremity.” Akmḗ is one of many Greek words derived from the widespread Proto-Indo-European root ak-, ok– “sharp, pointed, angular.” Other Greek derivatives include ákros “topmost, outermost,” as in akrópolis “upper city, citadel” (English acropolis), akrobátēs (English acrobat), literally “height walker,” and akís “point.” Latin derives from the same root ācer (stem ācr-) “sharp, stinging,” aciēs “point,” acidus “sour, acid,” and acūtus “sharp, sharpened” (English acute). The Proto-Germanic root from ak-, ok– is ag-. The Proto-Germanic noun agyō becomes ecg “sharpness, sharp side, blade, sword” in Old English (and edge in modern English); the Proto-Germanic verb agyan becomes eggja “to goad, incite” in Old Norse, the source of English egg (on). Acme entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is acme used?

To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence. Neither is it the acme of excellence if you fight and conquer and the whole Empire says, “Well done!”

Sun Tzu (flourished 5th century b.c.), The Art of War, translated by Lionel Giles, 1910

In this new era of television as high art, especially cable television, figuring out the acme of that art has been a task many have been eager to take on. We’ve mostly stayed silent, until now. That show, the best there ever was, is Breaking Bad.

Richard Lawson, "The Case for 'Breaking Bad' as Televisions Best Show," The Atlantic, July 13, 2012

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