Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, July 30, 2021

irrefragable

[ ih-ref-ruh-guh-buhl ]

adjective

not to be disputed or contested.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of irrefragable?

Irrefragable, “not to be disputed or contested,” comes from Late Latin irrefragābilis, literally “unable to be broken back,” and an easy word to break down into its components. The prefix ir– is the variant that the Latin negative prefix in– (from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-) takes before r-. The element re– means “back, back again,” thoroughly naturalized in English; here re– forms part of the verb refragārī “to oppose (a candidate); resist; militate against” (fragārī is possibly a variant of frangere “to break”; refragārī means “to break back”). The suffix –ābilis is formed from the connecting vowel –ā– and the adjective suffix –bilis, which shows capability or ability, and is the source of English –able. Irrefragable entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is irrefragable used?

The court often assumes that a federal agency acted properly unless an employee offers “irrefragable proof to the contrary.”

The Senate committee cited this as one of many issues on which the court had misinterpreted the law and the intent of Congress. “By definition,” it said, “irrefragable means impossible to refute. This imposes an impossible burden on whistleblowers.”

Robert Pear, "Congress Moves to Protect Federal Whistleblowers," New York Times, October 3, 2004

Physical science magnifies physical things. The universe of matter with its irrefragable laws looms upon our mental horizon larger than ever before, to some minds blotting out the very heavens.

John Burroughs, "In the Noon of Science," The Atlantic, September 1912

Listen to the word of the day

irrefragable

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

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

Word of the day

Thursday, July 29, 2021

celerity

[ suh-ler-i-tee ]

noun

swiftness; speed.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of celerity?

Celerity, “swiftness; speed,” comes via Middle French célérité from Latin celeritās (inflectional stem celeritāt-) “swiftness, quickness, speed,” a derivative of the adjective celer. Celer comes from the Proto-Indo-European root kel– “to drive, incite to quick motion” and the suffix –es– (Old Latin keles– regularly changes to Classical Latin celer-). The Latin adjective celeber, also celebris “busy, crowded, frequented” (source of English celebrate, celebrated) is also formed from kel-. The root also appears in Greek kélēs “runner, racer, racehorse, fast ship.” Celerity entered English in the second half of the 15th century.

how is celerity used?

At both forms of interview, the majority are not attending and taking notes because a court stenographer is doing it for them. With breathtaking celerity—within ten minutes—transcripts of both the flash interviews and the longer interviews are produced, reproduced, machine-stapled, never proofread, and placed in wall racks, where they are collected by the journalists.

John McPhee, "Rip Van Golfer," The New Yorker, July 30, 2007

Minutes after my delayed arrival Schneier had with characteristic celerity packed himself and me into a taxi.

Charles C. Mann, "Homeland Insecurity," The Atlantic, September 2002

Listen to the word of the day

celerity

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Word of the day

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Fletcherize

[ flech-uh-rahyz ]

verb (used with or without object)

to chew (food) slowly and thoroughly.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of Fletcherize?

Fletcherize, “to chew (food) slowly and thoroughly so as to extract its maximum nutrition,” is named after Horace Fletcher (1849-1919), a self-taught U.S. nutritionist and author. During his lifetime Fletcher was known as the “Great Masticator” for his insistence that food be chewed until liquefied before swallowing and for his slogan “Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate.” Other food reformers of the 19th century include Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), who inspired the graham cracker. Herman Melville refers to graham crackers in his novel Pierre; or The Ambiguities (1852): “They went about huskily muttering the Kantian Categories through teeth and lips dry and dusty as any miller’s, with the crumbs of Graham crackers.” And John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) was a U.S. physician and nutritionist best known today for his invention of corn flakes. Fletcherize entered English in the early 20th century.

how is Fletcherize used?

Ottla always said how kind and gentle her brother was … and how the Kafka family worried about his digestion and how boring it was to sit and watch him Fletcherize his food.

Francine Prose, Guided Tours of Hell, 1997

Yet one reason “The Voyeur’s Motel” is gripping is that Mr. Talese doesn’t fletcherize his material. He lays out what he knows and does not know in sentences that are as crisp as good Windsor knots.

Dwight Garner, "Making a Case for 'The Voyeur's Motel' by Gay Talese," New York Times, July 5, 2016

Listen to the word of the day

Fletcherize

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

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