Word of the Day

Friday, February 05, 2021

lustrum

[ luhs-truhm ]

noun

a period of five years.

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What is the origin of lustrum?

The Romans liked nothing better than combining religion and politics. In ancient Rome, a lustrum was a lustration, a ceremony of purification performed every five years at the end of a census (the census determined an adult male citizen’s voting rights, military obligations, and tax liability). In Latin lustrum acquired the general meaning “period of five years.” The lustration involved a circular procession with instruments of purification (torches, sacrificial animals), music, hymns, dancing, and it culminated in the sacrifice of the animals. The lustrum of the city of Rome was conducted on the Campus Martius by one of the censors, two senior elected magistrates having considerable power and responsibility, such as conducting the census and policing public morals. Lustrum entered English at the end of the 16th century.

how is lustrum used?

Even in their own lifetimes they knew that from 1797 to 1802 they shared a lustrum of sympathy and love and achievement which were proof against worldly accidents and tribulations.

George Mallaby, "Dorothy Wordsworth: The Perfect Sister," The Atlantic, December 1950

I am not obsessed with the apocryphal trash of any lustrum or decade, nor do I intend to canonize what is fustian because it is a particle of the past. For the poet there is in fact no time passing.

Edward Dahlberg, "Beautiful Failures," New York Times, January 15, 1967

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Thursday, February 04, 2021

lachrymose

[ lak-ruh-mohs ]

adjective

suggestive of or tending to cause tears; mournful.

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What is the origin of lachrymose?

The spelling lachrymose, “suggestive of or causing tears,” is enough to make a person downright weepy. Lachrymose is a learned misspelling of Latin lacrimōsus “weeping, tearful, in tears,” a derivative of the noun lacrima “a tear, weeping, lament.” In preclassical Latin the form was dacrima, which is the original form, lacrima the innovation (as with original Odysseus, the innovative Ulixes, and the hybrid Ulysses). Old Latin dacrima is related to the Greek noun dákryon, the “everyday” word for tears, but it looks quite close to the rare, poetic Greek noun dákrȳma (with a long upsilon) “something to be wept over, a matter for tears” (uttered by the oracle of Delphi). The association of lacrima, dacrima, and dákrȳma was enough to allow medieval scribes to innovate the pseudo-Greek spelling lachrymōsus. Lachrymose entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is lachrymose used?

But otherwise this modernized remake of Miss Hurst’s frankly lachrymose tale is much the same as its soggy predecessor. It is the most shameless tear-jerker in a couple of years.

Bosley Crowther, "Sob Story Back: 'Imitation of Life' in Return to Roxy," New York Times, April 18, 1959

Letter to You is rich in lessons for those who want to know what successful aging looks like. Far from being sad or lachrymose, it’s both youthful—loud and hard-charging—and serene and wise.

David Brooks, "Bruce Springsteen and the Art of Aging Well," The Atlantic, October 23, 2020

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Wednesday, February 03, 2021

uitwaaien

[ out-vahyn ]

noun

the Dutch practice of jogging or walking into the wind, especially in the winter, for the purpose of feeling invigorated while relieving stress and boosting one’s general health.

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What is the origin of uitwaaien?

The Dutch compound word uitwaaien means “to jog or walk into the wind, especially in the winter, in order to feel invigorated, relieve stress, and boost one’s health” (others prefer sitting in cozy coffeehouses or quiet neighborhood bars). Uitwaaien is composed of the preposition and prefix uit “out” (its pronunciation is not much different from English out) and the verb waaien “to blow.” Waaien comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root as Sanskrit vā́ti “(it is) blowing,” Latin ventum “wind,” Germanic (English) “weather, wind,” and Slavic (Polish) wieje “(it is) blowing.” Uitwaaien entered English in the first decade of the 21st century.

how is uitwaaien used?

Uitwaaien is something you do to clear your mind and feel refreshed—out with the bad air, in with the good,” she tells me.

Caitlin Meyer, quoted in "The Simple Dutch Cure for Stress," by Alice Fleerackers, Nautilus, November 8, 2019

 Uitwaaien is a long-standing cultural tradition of integrating nature with daily life for the intentional purpose of mental clarity and the promotion of feelings of wellbeing.

Mary Breunig, "Slow nature-focused leisure in the days of COVID-19: repressive myths, social (in)justice, and hope," Annals of Leisure Research, published online December 28, 2020

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