Word of the Day

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

iwis

[ ih-wis ]

adverb

Obsolete.

certainly.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of iwis?

Iwis is an obsolete, archaic adverb meaning “certainly, surely.” The very many Middle English spellings of the adverb include wisse, iwise, jwis(se), gwisse, ewis, awis, iwesse…, all of which come from the Old English adverb gewis “certainly, indeed, truly.” Old English gewis shows its close kinship with German gewiß (also spelled gewiss) “certainly, surely” (as in Ja, gewiß! “Yes, certainly!” in lesson 3 of German 101). During the 14th century the spellings i-wis, i-wisse (with other variants) began appearing in manuscripts, and in the second half of the 15th century, I wise appears as well, which shows that the writers or scribes no longer knew exactly what iwis meant, but thought it was a subject pronoun followed by the  (nonexistent) verb wis “know”; thus I wis was misinterpreted to mean “I know.” Iwis entered English before 900.

how is iwis used?

There be fools alive, iwis, / Silver’d o’er; and so was this.

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, 1600

For there by magic skill, iwis, / Form of each thing that living is / Was limned in proper dye.

Sir Walter Scott, The Bridal of Triermain, 1813

Listen to the word of the day

iwis

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.
Monday, April 27, 2020

soi-disant

[ swa-dee-zahn ]

adjective

French.

calling oneself thus; self-styled.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of soi-disant?

The adjective soi-disant “calling oneself, self-styled, would-be” usually has a whiff of pretense or deception. The phrase is French, pure and simple, formed from the third person reflexive pronoun soi “oneself, him-, her-, itself,” and disant “saying,” the present participle of the verb dire “to say.” The pronoun soi comes from Latin , the accusative of the third person singular and plural reflexive pronoun; dire comes from Latin dīcere “to say.” Soi-disant entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is soi-disant used?

Franzen is railing against is not mere tech obsession but, rather, the intellectual and spiritual poverty, the weakness and the obedience, of soi-disant “creatives” who buy what they’re told rather than rage against the machine, who are too infatuated with their wonderful little toys even to look up from them while the world burns.

Maria Bustillos, "Jonathan Franzen, Come Join Us!" The New Yorker, September 18, 2013

I know of plenty of soi disant progressives who don’t really think we have a serious problem here, or else who think it’s a problem that can and should be solved almost entirely through the levers of education policy.

Matthew Yglesias, "Liberaltarianism?" The Atlantic, December 5, 2006

Listen to the word of the day

soi-disant

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Sunday, April 26, 2020

precipitate

[ pri-sip-i-teyt ]

verb (used with object)

to hasten the occurrence of; bring about prematurely, hastily, or suddenly: to precipitate an international crisis.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of precipitate?

All the noun, verb, and adjective senses of precipitate developed together in a 25-year period in the middle of the 17th century. Precipitate comes from Latin praecipitātus, the past participle of the verb praecipitāre “to cast down headlong, throw overboard,” a derivative of the adjective praeceps (inflectional stem praecipit-) “plunging headfirst, falling headlong; (of terrain) steep, falling steeply, sheer; (of human age) advanced in years, declining.” Praeceps is a compound of the preposition, adverb, and prefix prae, prae– (the prefix is also spelled prē-) “before, in front or advance of” and the combining form –ceps, –cipit-, a reduced form of caput (inflectional stem capit-) “head.” Praeceps (and praecipitāre) can also convey a notion of abruptness, rashness, or sudden disaster. In the 19th century precipitous in the sense “steep” gave rise to the curious phrase precipitous rise (as in prices or blood pressure), that is, sharply rising prices or blood pressure, not suddenly falling prices or blood pressure.

how is precipitate used?

We face a new reality, precipitated by the pandemic.

Jim Bankoff, quoted in "SB Nation faces murky future after Vox Media furloughs national writers for three months," Washington Post, April 17, 2020

He and others also hope this experience may help precipitate a sea change in disaster policy by encouraging the integration of once disparate fields such as emergency management, public health, and economics and steadier funding in those areas.

Andrea Thompson, "What Happens When Other Disasters Hit during a Pandemic? Scientific American, April 16, 2020

Listen to the word of the day

precipitate

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.