• Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Monday, April 09, 2018

    mea culpa

    noun [mey-uh kuhl-puh, mee-uh]
    an acknowledgment of one's responsibility for a fault or error.
    Look it up

    Get to know dictionary.com

    Sign up for our Newsletter!
    Start your day with new words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    What is the origin of mea culpa?

    Aging Roman Catholics who were altar boys before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) can recite from memory the formula from the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass: meā culpā, meā culpā, meā maximā culpā, traditionally translated “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” The Latin phrase was first used in the 13th century as an exclamation or interjection. The noun use of mea culpa, “acknowledgment of responsibility or guilt,” arose in the 19th century.

    How is mea culpa used?

    Facebook was reluctant, however, to issue any mea culpas or action plans with regard to the problem of filter bubbles or Facebook’s noted propensity to serve as a tool for amplifying outrage. Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, "Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebook--and the World," Wired, February 12, 2018

    Only later on are they willing to strike a bargain with him: a refuge for a mea culpa. Paul West, A Fifth of November, 2001

    Get to know dictionary.com

    Sign up for our Newsletter!
    Start your day with new words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Sunday, April 08, 2018

    truckle

    verb [truhk-uhl]
    to submit or yield obsequiously or tamely (usually followed by to): Don't truckle to unreasonable demands.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of truckle?

    The noun truckle originally (in the early 15th century) meant “a small wheel with a groove around its circumference for a cord or rope to run.” Later in the same century, truckle also had the meaning “a small wheel or roller placed under a heavy object to help move it.” In the 17th century truckle was short for truckle bed or trundle bed, i.e., a low bed moving on casters and usually stored under a larger bed. It is from this last sense, the supine sense, as it were, that truckle acquired its current meaning “to yield or submit meekly” in the 17th century.

    How is truckle used?

    If anything, having professionals serve who remember that their oath is to support and defend the Constitution—and not to truckle to an individual or his clique—will be more important than ever. Eliot Cohen, "To An Anxious Friend," The American Interest, November 10, 2016

    By refusing to truckle to power, by adopting Afro-centric stylings and proclaiming that black really was beautiful, she became a heroine for generations of African American women. Louis Bayard, "Book Review of 'Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone,' by Nadine Cohodas," Washington Post, February 28, 2010

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Saturday, April 07, 2018

    phraseology

    noun [frey-zee-ol-uh-jee]
    manner or style of verbal expression; characteristic language: legal phraseology.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of phraseology?

    In the early 17th century (1604) phrasiology (or phrasiologie) was the original English spelling of phraseology. There is no Greek noun phrasiología, let alone phraseología, but phrasiology is correctly derived from Greek phrásis “speech, enunciation, expression, idiom, phrase” and the combining form -logía “science (of).” The current spelling phraseology ultimately rests on the Greek word phraseologia “phrase book” of Michael Neander (1525-95), a German humanist, educator and philologist. Neander possibly derived phrase- from phráseōs, the genitive singular of phrásis. Phraseology entered English in the mid-17th century.

    How is phraseology used?

    The will is not exactly proper in legal phraseology. George Bernard Shaw, The Devil's Disciple, 1897

    ... three previous presidents distinguished themselves through phraseology: “morning in America,” “city on a hill,” “tear down this wall,” “new world order,” “thousand points of light,” “axis of evil,” “bigotry of low expectations.” Derek Thompson, "Donald Trump's Language Is Reshaping American Politics," The Atlantic, February 15, 2018

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Friday, April 06, 2018

    mushyheaded

    adjective [muhsh-ee-hed-id, moosh-]
    Informal. inadequately thought out: mushyheaded ideas.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of mushyheaded?

    Mush, cornmeal boiled in water or milk until thick, eaten as a hot cereal, or molded and fried, is originally an Americanism dating back to the late 17th century. A derivative compound, mushhead “a stupid person,” also an Americanism, dates to the mid-19th century; its derivative adjective mush-headed “easily duped, stupid”, dates to the second half of the 19th century. Mushyheaded (or mushy-headed), a variant of mush-headed, dates to the late 20th century.

    How is mushyheaded used?

    Hard-headed because it accepts self-interest as the basic human motivator and does not wish it away into what Alinsky considers the mushy-headed idea that people will do good because they believe in the good. Frank Bardacke, Trampling Out the Vintage, 2011

    Though Cotton acknowledges that this might seem elitist, he derides the Federalists’ modern critics as mushy-headed and naive. Molly Ball, "The Making of a Conservative Superstar," The Atlantic, September 17, 2014

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Thursday, April 05, 2018

    Shangri-la

    noun [shang-gruh-lah, shang-gruh-lah]
    a faraway haven or hideaway of idyllic beauty and tranquility.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of Shangri-la?

    The placename Shangri-La was coined by the English novelist James Hilton (1900-54), but the name has a firm Tibetan etymology. Shangri-La in Tibetan means “Shang Mountain Pass,” from Shang, the name of a region in Tibet; ri means “mountain,” and la means “pass.” Beyond the name itself, everything associated with Shangri-La is pure speculation and fantasy. Shangri-La entered English in 1933.

    How is Shangri-la used?

    A small settlement wedged between fjord-like Lake Chelan and the jagged eastern slopes of the Cascades, Stehekin has several comfortable lodges, an excellent bakery and, best of all, relatively few visitors. ... First, of course, we had to get to this little Shangri-La. Ethan Todras-Whitehill, "In the Cascades, a Trifecta for Outdoor Enthusiasts," New York Times, September 17, 2014

    With its youth and isolation and spectacular scenery, there was a tendency to think of Los Alamos as a Shangri-La. Katrina R. Mason, Children of Los Alamos: An Oral History of the Town Where the Atomic Age Began, 1995

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Wednesday, April 04, 2018

    mythoclast

    noun [mith-uh-klast]
    a destroyer or debunker of myths.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of mythoclast?

    English mythoclast comes from two familiar Greek words. The Greek noun mŷthos has many meanings: “speech, word, public speech, unspoken word, matter, fact,” as in mythology, “a set of stories, traditions, or beliefs.” The Greek combining form -klastēs “breaker” is most familiar in iconoclast “one who breaks images or statues” (literally and figuratively). A mythoclast is one who breaks or destroys a myth or myths in general. Mythoclast entered English in the late 19th century.

    How is mythoclast used?

    Tommy Moore, a life-long friend, an insatiable consumer of history, and a fellow mythoclast by constitution, accompanied me to the field on several occasions, and read sections of the working manuscript. Scott Stine, A Way Across the Mountain, 2015

    ... right now I reckon him a mythoclast, the sort of man you wouldn't trust with the Glastonbury Thorn, the Devil's Arrows at Boroughbridge, or Father Christmas. John Hillaby, "What's under York Minster?" New Scientist, March 29, 1973

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Tuesday, April 03, 2018

    anecdata

    noun [an-ik-dey-tuh, -dat-uh, -dah-tuh]
    anecdotal evidence based on personal observations or opinions, random investigations, etc., but presented as fact: biased arguments supported by anecdata.
    Look it up

    What is the origin of anecdata?

    Anecdata is a reworking of anecdotal data. Anecdotal comes from the Greek adjective anékdotos “unpublished,” formed from the negative prefix an-, a-, the preposition and prefix ex-, ek- “out of,” and the past participle dotós “given, granted.” Each of the three Greek elements corresponds in form, origin, and meaning to Latin inēditus “unpublished” (the negative prefix in-, the preposition and prefix ex-, ē-, and the past participle datus “given.” Data is the neuter plural of datus used as a noun, “things given.” Anecdata entered English in the late 20th century.

    How is anecdata used?

    Please. Stop letting yourself get carried away based on random anecdata from the Internet. Julie Lawson Timmer, Five Days Left, 2014

    Again, industry stats support the anecdata. Publishers are reporting declining ebook sales but growing audiobook revenues, with audio filling the digital revenue gap that ebooks left. Antonio Garcia Martinez, "The Veni, Vidi, Vici of Voice," Wired, February 28, 2018

    Previous Day Load More
Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with new words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.