Word of the Day

Saturday, June 06, 2020

jury-rig

[ joo r-ee-rig ]

verb (used with object)

to assemble quickly or from whatever is at hand, especially for temporary use: to jury-rig stage lights using automobile headlights.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of jury-rig?

Jury-rig, “to assemble quickly with whatever is at hand, improvise, especially for temporary use,” is of obscure origin, but probably originally a nautical term, based on another, earlier nautical term jury-mast, “a temporary mast on a sailing vessel replacing a damaged or destroyed mast,” first recorded in 1617. Jury-rig is close enough in meaning and sound to jerry- in jerry-build (and its derivatives jerry-builder and jerry-built) “to build or make in a haphazard, slovenly fashion,” and the confusion of those terms resulted in the hybrid verb jerry-rig, first recorded about 1960. (There are people in south Jersey and Philadelphia who pronounce ferry as furry and color as keller.) But jerry-build and jerry-rig always imply flimsiness and shoddiness; jury-rig implies improvisation. Jury-rig entered English in the second half of the 18th century.

how is jury-rig used?

She told the school custodian that her bike handlebars were all screwed up and that she needed some duct tape to juryrig it until she got home.

Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes, 2007

New problems arose all the time, and the engineers were forever improvising ways to jury-rig a component or bypass a system.

Ken Follett, Code to Zero, 2000

Listen to the word of the day

jury-rig

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.
Friday, June 05, 2020

shambolic

[ sham-bol-ik ]

adjective

Chiefly British Informal.

very disorganized; messy or confused: I’ve had a shambolic year, the worst ever.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of shambolic?

Shambolic, “disorganized; messy or confused,” is a colloquial adjective, used mostly by the British. The word is a combination of shambles and symbolic. Shambolic is a fairly recent coinage, entering English about 1970.

how is shambolic used?

a programme to train thousands of contact-tracers to help control the spread of coronavirus has been described as shambolic and inadequate by recruits.

Frances Perraudin, "'No one had any idea': Contact tracers lack knowledge about Covid-19 job," The Guardian, May 20, 2020

If democratic procedures start to seem shambolic, then democratic ideas will seem questionable as well.

Timothy Snyder, "How a Russian Fascist Is Meddling in America's Election," New York Times, September 20, 2016

Listen to the word of the day

shambolic

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Thursday, June 04, 2020

caseous

[ key-see-uhs ]

adjective

of or like cheese.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of caseous?

The English adjective caseous derives from the Latin noun cāseus “cheese,” which in Latin comedy (Plautus), at least, is used as a term of endearment: molliculus cāseus “delicate cheese.” (Molliculus is a diminutive of the adjective mollis “soft.” Diminutives are characteristic of colloquial Latin, and therefore of comedy, and also exist in modern Romance languages, e.g., Italian orecchio “ear,” from auricula, a diminutive of auris “ear.”) The etymology of cāseus is unknown, but it may come from earlier, unrecorded kwātsos, meaning “something runny,” from the Proto-Indo-European root kwat- “to ferment; be, become, or make sour.” If that is so, cāseus may be related to Russian kvas “sour beer,” and Polish kwas “acid.” Caseous entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is caseous used?

Second, eat these little caseous balloons immediately—like topical plays, they lose value every couple of minutes.

Jonathan Reynolds, "Say Cheese Balls," New York Times, September 30, 2001

I have no doubt but that in the process of churning the whole milk there is a large amount of lactic acid formed, and a much higher temperature attained, than in the churning of cream; consequently, the separation of caseous matter must be more perfectly effected in the former than in the latter case.

Charles A. Cameron, The Stock-Feeder's Manual: The Chemistry of Food in Relation to the Breeding and Feeding of Live Stock, 1868

Listen to the word of the day

caseous

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.