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[ lit-i-geyt ] [ ˈlɪt ɪˌgeɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used without object)

to carry on a lawsuit.

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More about litigate

Litigate “to carry on a lawsuit” is based on Latin lītigātus “having gone to law,” the past participle of lītigāre “to go to law.” The verb lītigāre is a compound of two other Latin words: līs (stem līt-) “lawsuit” and agere (stem -ig-) “to do, drive, carry on.” As we learned from the recent Words of the Day fustigate and disambiguate, agere is a rather productive verb with several stems: the present stem ag- appears in agenda, agent, and agile; the reduced stem -ig- is also found in castigate and navigate; and the perfect stem act- is found in action, activity, and exact. Litigate was first recorded in English circa 1610.

how is litigate used?

Tribal nations are forced to litigate, protest, and educate U.S. and state officials on the terms of the treaties and agreements ratified and entered on these lands. The rule of law requires the U.S. as a treaty partner to fulfill its legal obligations and to enforce those obligations against its component state governments.

Angelique EagleWoman, “Tribal nation treaties are legally binding agreements with the U.S.,” Indian Country Today, November 5, 2021

Though Marshall continued to litigate civil rights cases, he was exhausted by the vehemence of states’ resistance to integration. Marshall and his colleagues fought battle after battle as states defied the new law of the land—closing entire public school systems, creating charter schools, and even rioting rather than allow Black students to attend alongside white ones.

Erin Blakemore, “How Thurgood Marshall became the first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice,” National Geographic, October 2, 2020
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[ pref-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee ] [ ˈprɛf əˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


of, relating to, or of the nature of something introductory.

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More about prefatory

Prefatory “of or relating to something introductory” is based on the Latin noun praefātiō “a saying beforehand,” plus the adjective-forming suffix -ory. Praefātiō became Medieval Latin prēfātia and then became Middle French preface, which English has borrowed. In this way, prefatory and preface are doublets, two words in a language with the same origin but that took different pathways to get there—in this case, directly from Latin and by way of French, respectively. Latin praefātiō is a compound of prae “before,” which is the source of English pre-, and fārī “to speak,” which is the source of affable, fable, fate, and infant. Prefatory was first recorded in English circa 1670.

how is prefatory used?

Vladimir Nabokov believed that inspiration comes in phases. First, he wrote, there’s the “prefatory glow,” the feeling of “tickly well-being” that banishes all awareness of physical discomfort. The feeling does not yield its secret just yet, but a window has been opened and some wind has blown in.

David Brooks, “What Is Inspiration?” New York Times, April 15, 2016

“My question is more of a comment” is a prefatory refrain one comes to dread hearing. You steel yourself for the digressive, long-winded tirade, incoherent to the point of lunacy.

Calum Marsh, “The important questions: Why are audience Q&As so bad?” National Post, January 26, 2017
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[ uhm-beer-uh ] [ əmˈbɪər ə ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a musical instrument of what is now Zimbabwe and Malawi that serves as a resonating box, to which vibrating metal or wooden strips are attached for plucking.

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More about mbira

Mbira “a musical instrument made from a gourd” is a borrowing from the Shona language. Though Shona mbira is of unclear origin, some linguists hypothesize connections to ambira, kalimba, and marimba, which are all xylophone-like instruments originating in southern Africa. The Shona language is spoken in what is now Zimbabwe, and it belongs to the huge Bantu group of languages, which is found throughout western southern Africa and also includes Wolof, Xhosa, Yoruba, and Zulu. Mbira was first recorded in English circa 1910.

how is mbira used?

The mbira, or Zimbabwean thumb piano, is a revered ceremonial instrument from Southern Africa with two rows of metal keys mounted on a wooden soundboard. Players use thumb and forefinger to pluck the keys up or down, creating percussive, often haunting tones. Traditional mbira song lyrics are evocative and impassioned, often accompanied by call and response singing and guitar.

“Stella Chiweshe, Live in Studio 4A,” NPR, October 19, 2003

Materials such as bottle caps or beads can be attached to the instrument to create its signature buzzing sound. The mbira remains a vital cultural emblem of the community as it is often played in a variety of Shona ceremonies … The music of the mbira the Shona people have been able to pass down over hundreds of years and generations.

Louise Hall, “Mbira: What is the musical instrument featured in today’s Google Doodle?” Independent, May 21, 2020
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