• Word of the day
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    Friday, January 25, 2019

    lipogram

    noun [lip-uh-gram, lahy-puh-]
    a written work composed of words chosen so as to avoid the use of one or more specific alphabetic characters.
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    What is the origin of lipogram?

    Lipogram looks as if it means “weighing or measuring of fat in grams or kilograms,” i.e., a medical procedure performed after a liposuction. Wrong, wrong wrong! The lipo- in liposuction comes from the Greek noun lípos “(animal) fat, lard,” from the Proto-Indo-European root leip-, lip- “fat; to stick,” from which English derives liver (the organ). A lipogram really is a kind of literary composition (usually a poem) in which the author deliberately avoids using a sound, a letter, or a digraph, e.g., s, r, or th. Lipogram comes from the Greek adjective lipográmmatos “missing a letter,” from the Greek root leip-, loip-, lip- “to leave, leave behind.” Greek leip-, loip-, lip- is the regular development of the Proto-Indo-European root leikw-, loikw-, likw-, which appears with a nasal infix (-n-) in Latin linquere, relinquere “to leave, quit, depart.” The combining form -grámmatos is a derivative of gráphein “to write” from the Proto-Indo-European root gerbh- “to scratch,” the source of English carve. Lipogram entered English in the 18th century.

    How is lipogram used?

    He was translating into English the brilliant novel by Georges Perec, “La Disparition” – a lipogram written entirely without the letter “e.” Andy Martin, "The Treachery of Translators," New York Times, January 28, 2013

    We received some short autobiographies and there was an oddly large number of lipograms about pirates. "Contestant Lipograms: the Best of the Best," NPR, June 29, 2012

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, January 24, 2019

    buzzwig

    noun [buhz-wig]
    a person of consequence.
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    What is the origin of buzzwig?

    A buzzwig “bigwig, big shot” is someone who wears a large, bushy wig. The first syllable, buzz, may be a shortening of busby, the very large fur hat worn by hussars on parade. Buzzwig entered English in the 19th century.

    How is buzzwig used?

    ... all was suddenly upset by two witnesses ... whom the old Spanish buzwigs doated on as models of all that could be looked for in the best. Thomas De Quincey, "The Spanish Nun," Narrative and Miscellaneous Papers, Volume I, 1853

    who, as Porson's brother-in-law, and a man of admirable sense and wit, had a no profound veneration for the buzzwig doctor. Mary Russell Mitford, "Letter to Miss Barrett, July 23, 1842," The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, 1870

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, January 23, 2019

    adrenalize

    verb [uh-dreen-l-ahyz]
    to stir to action; excite: The promise of victory adrenalized the team.
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    What is the origin of adrenalize?

    Adrenalize is an unimaginative compound of the noun adrenaline and -ize, a Greek verb suffix completely naturalized. Adrenalize was first used in the early 20th century in the now rare sense “to treat with adrenaline.” In the 1930s it acquired a metaphorical meaning, “to stir to action, excite; be stirred to action, be excited.”

    How is adrenalize used?

    It all seemed some sort of overblown, middle-American hysteria, a desire to adrenalize an otherwise sleepy existence. Adam Buckley Cohen, "A Psychological Twister," New York Times, May 28, 2011

    Stocco is being touted as a guy who can adrenalize a program that has gone a mediocre 13-19 in the Big Ten over the last five years. Clete Campbell, "Stocco a cool QB," Telegraph-Herald, August 21, 2004

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, January 22, 2019

    shirty

    adjective [shur-tee]
    Informal. bad-tempered; irritable; cranky.
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    What is the origin of shirty?

    The adjective shirty derives from the phrase “to have one’s shirt out, get one’s shirt out, get someone’s shirt out, to be or become annoyed.” “Getting one’s shirt out” is one possible result of swinging one’s arms in an argument in a pub; a head-butt is another. Shirty entered English in the 19th century.

    How is shirty used?

    ... she was usually all right about most things, if you woke her before she was ready she could get a bit shirty. Beryl Kingston, London Pride, 1991

    There's no need to get shirty, young man. My ticket is right there. André Alexis, "Maupassant," Beauty and Sadness, 2010

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, January 21, 2019

    creed

    noun [kreed]
    any system or codification of belief or of opinion.
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    What is the origin of creed?

    Creed has existed in English since before the year 1000. Its Middle English form crede and its Old English form crēda ultimately derive from Latin crēdō meaning “I believe.”

    How is creed used?

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have a Dream," delivered August 28, 1963

    Blight was most impressed by Douglass’s mental, physical and intellectual endurance, his “ability to still believe, and to demand a place in the country’s creed. "Big New Biographies of Two Big American Lives," New York Times, November 9, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, January 20, 2019

    altiloquent

    adjective [awl-til-uh-kwuh nt, al-]
    Archaic. (of language) high-flown or pretentious.
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    What is the origin of altiloquent?

    Altiloquent, “(in language) high-flown, pretentious,” comes from Latin alti-, a combining form of the adjective altus “high” and loquent-, the stem of the present participle loquēns “speaking, talking, having the power of speech,” from the verb loquī. (The adjective altiloquēns does not exist in Latin.) Altiloquent dates from the 17th century.

    How is altiloquent used?

    The altiloquent talker may be called a word-fancier, searching for all the fine words discoverable ... John Bate, Talkers, 1878

    My altiloquent style takes too much energy. I'm the best in the business, but I'm seven thousand years old and slowing down. Stanley Elkin, Searches & Seizures, 1973

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, January 19, 2019

    freegan

    noun [free-guhn]
    a person who buys as little as possible and makes use of recycled or discarded goods and materials, in an effort to reduce waste and limit environmental impact.
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    What is the origin of freegan?

    Freegan is a blend of free and vegan. One who practices freeganism is usually also but not necessarily a vegetarian or vegan. Freeganism differs from the usually disparaging term dumpster diving in that freegans are anticonsumerist and anticapitalist in their ideology, but are actively engaged in alternative lifestyles. Freegan entered English in the late 20th century.

    How is freegan used?

    While Kalish and the freegans work to educate people about the amount of waste we generate, they essentially want to put themselves out of business. Eillie Anzilotti, "New York's Freegans Expose the Insane Waste of Our Food System," Fast Company, March 30, 2018

    Don't get hung up on the foraging. ... Everybody gets all freaked out about the diving, the whole Freegan thing. Jonathan Miles, Want Not, 2013

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