Word of the Day

Sunday, September 23, 2018

legerdemain

[ lej-er-duh-meyn ]

noun

trickery; deception.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of legerdemain?

There are about 50 spellings in Middle English for (modern) legerdemain. The English word most likely comes from a Middle French phrase leger de main “light of hand,” which is unfortunately unrecorded. Middle French has two similar idioms meaning “to be dexterous”: estre ligier de sa main, literally “to be light of his hand” and avoir la main legiere, literally “to have the light hand.” In English, legerdemain first meant “skill in conjuring, sleight of hand” and acquired the sense “trickery, artful deception” in the 16th century. Legerdemain entered English in the 15th century.

how is legerdemain used?

… it was precisely that sort of legerdemain—tapping a dicey loan with the magic wand of financialization—which built the mortgage-securitization industry to begin with.

Tad Friend, "Home Economics," The New Yorker, February 4, 2013

The city today stretches out along the flatlands by the Fyris River, then ripples up a glacial ridge, culminating in a massive sixteenth-century castle painted the color of a poached salmon—a bit of legerdemain by pigment that leavens the bulky fortress considerably.

Emily Hiestand, "The Constant Gardener," The Atlantic, March 2007
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.
Saturday, September 22, 2018

polychromatic

[ pol-ee-kroh-mat-ik, -kruh- ]

adjective

having or exhibiting a variety of colors.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of polychromatic?

English polychromatic is a borrowing from French polychromatique, which comes from Greek polychrṓmatos “many-colored, variegated” and the suffix -ique, from the Greek suffix -ikos or the Latin suffix -icus. Polychromatic is used mostly, but not exclusively, in the physical sciences, e.g., hematology, physics, and formerly in chemistry. Polychromatic entered English in the 19th century.

how is polychromatic used?

… the degreening of leaves is a widely appreciated natural phenomenon, especially in autumn, when the foliage of deciduous trees turns into polychromatic beauty.

S. Hörtensteiner and P. Matile, "How Leaves Turn Yellow: Catabolism of Chlorophyll," Plant Cell Death Processes, 2004

Throughout, Suzy Lee’s polychromatic illustrations astonish. Each page bursts with color.

Carmela Ciuraru, "'A Dog Day,' 'Ask Me' and 'Sidewalk Flowers'," New York Times, July 10, 2015
Friday, September 21, 2018

coup de foudre

[ kooduh foo-druh ]

noun

love at first sight.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of coup de foudre?

In French coup de foudre, literally “a clap of thunder,” means “love at first sight.” Modern French coup is a development of Old French coup, colp “a blow, strike,” from Late Latin colpus, from Latin colaphus, from Greek kólaphos “a slap.” French foudre “lightning” comes from Latin fulgura, the plural of the neuter noun fulgur “lightning.” Coup de foudre entered English in the 18th century.

how is coup de foudre used?

Do you believe in love at first sight? The coup de foudre, the heart falling into the stomach, the moment when Cupid’s arrow breaches the iron armor of even the hardest of hearts?

Sally Christie, The Sisters of Versailles, 2015

I mean, the coup de foudre is wonderful–seeing someone for the first time across a room and just feeling this huge surge of necessity, the knowledge that you want to be with them. But it’s not the only way. Increasingly I’m coming around to the view that the other kind is better.

Simon Brett, Penultimate Chance Saloon, 2005

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.