Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, May 15, 2020

melee

[ mey-ley, mey-ley, mel-ey ]

noun

confusion; turmoil; jumble.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of melee?

Melee, also spelled mêlée, has been in English since the mid-17th century; yet its spellings and several pronunciations show that it is still not naturalized. Melee comes from Old French melee, meslee, medlee “mixture, argument, confused hand-to-hand fighting,” from Old French mesler, medler, mesdler, from Vulgar Latin misculāre, Latin miscere “to mix.” Medler is also the source of English medley; mesler is the source of the second half of pell-mell (from Middle French pelemele, Old French pesle mesle).

how is melee used?

The fifteen dogs were off leash, creating a melee of barking, squeaking squeaky toys, and the voices of puppy raisers shouting “Leave it!,” “Bring it!,” and “Good puppy!”

Lizzie Widdicombe, "Puppies Behind Bars, with Glenn Close," The New Yorker, November 20, 2017

A recent tussle between Maduro loyalists and the U.S.-backed opposition for control of Venezuela’s National Assembly descended into a melee of competing claims that left neither side with clear authority over the assembly.

Kejal Vyas, "Behind Maduro's Latest Power Play: Reviving Venezuela's Collapsed Oil Industry," Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2020

Listen to the word of the day

melee

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
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.

Word of the day

Thursday, May 14, 2020

insufflate

[ in-suhf-leyt, in-suh-fleyt ]

verb (used with object)

to blow or breathe (something) in.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of insufflate?

There is not an obvious connection between insufflate and soufflé, but it exists. Insufflate comes from Late Latin insufflātus, the past participle of the verb insufflāre “to blow into or upon,” first recorded in Christian Latin authors. Insufflāre is a compound of the common preposition and suffix in, in- “in, into, on, upon” and sufflāre “to blow up from below, blow up,” itself a compound of sub, sub- “below, from below” and the simple verb flāre “to blow, breathe.” Soufflé in French means “puffed up”; it is the past participle of the verb souffler, the regular French development of Latin sufflāre. Insufflate entered English in the 17th century.

how is insufflate used?

They handed a trumpet to the old man, who put it to the lips of the two creatures still suspended in their vegetable lethargy, their sweet animal sleep, and he began to insufflate soul into their bodies.

Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, translated by William Weaver, 1989

If the EU were to give Britain a good deal, it would inspire other countries to leave and might insufflate new life into populist parties that are already gaining more and more support throughout Europe.

Barbara Tasch, "There must be a threat, a risk, a price," Business Insider, October 7, 2016

Listen to the word of the day

insufflate

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Word of the day

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

blarney

[ blahr-nee ]

noun

deceptive or misleading talk; nonsense; hooey: a lot of blarney about why he was broke.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of blarney?

Blarney is named after the Blarney stone, a stone set high up on the outside of the parapet of Blarney Castle, and accessible to a kisser who desires eloquence only if he or she leans backward over the parapet to kiss the stone. There are several stories of the origin of the legend about the stone. One of them involves the goddess Cliodhna, queen of the banshees, to whom Cormac Laidir McCarthy, who built Blarney Castle and became involved in a lawsuit, appealed for assistance. Cliodhna told McCarthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court. McCarthy did as the goddess told him, pleaded his case with great eloquence, and won. Blarney Castle is in the town of Blarney, about five miles northwest of Cork, in southwest Ireland. The name Blarney in Gaelic is (an) Bhlarna “(the) little field,” from blair, blar “field.” Blarney entered English in the 18th century.

how is blarney used?

I am a lawyer and would therefore never mislead you: Blarney is not exactly lies, but it’s not exactly the full truth either.

John F. X. Irving, "Blarney—A Political Definition," New York Times, March 13, 1977

Perfect love, I suppose, means that a married man and woman never contradict one another, and that they both of them always feel the same thing at the same moment … What blarney!

D. H. Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, 1925

Listen to the word of the day

blarney

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

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.