Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, February 16, 2018


[ mes-uh n ]


Scot. a lap dog; small pet dog.

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What is the origin of messan?

The English noun messan “small dog, lap dog” comes from Scots Gaelic measan “small dog,” cognate with Irish Gaelic measán, both of which are diminutives of Gaelic mess “favored (one).” Messan entered English in the late 15th century.

how is messan used?

They are good enough lads, Sholto and Laurence both, but they will be for ever gnarring and grappling at each other like messan dogs round a kirk door.

S. R. Crockett, The Black Douglas, 1899

Here, sisters, here is my trusty and well-beloved Dame de Ste. Petronelle, who takes such care of me that she dogs my footsteps like a messan.

Charlotte Mary Yonge, Two Penniless Princesses, 1890
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Thursday, February 15, 2018


[ es-oh-es ]


any call for help: We sent out an SOS for more typists.

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What is the origin of SOS?

SOS comes from the Morse code alphabet, in which three dots (or short clicks) represents the letter S and three dashes (or long clicks) represents the letter O.

how is SOS used?

When an SOS is heard, there is an immediate response by almost anyone who is in a position to be of assistance and a prayerful response by those are unable to assist.

Gilbert P. Pond, "SOS ... SAS," The Rotarian, July 1955

SOS is not only a signal of despair, it is a larger symbol of hope.

, "SOS," New York Times, December 24, 1956
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018


[ ship ]


to take an interest in or hope for a romantic relationship between (fictional characters or famous people), whether or not the romance actually exists: I’m shipping for those guys—they would make a great couple!

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What is the origin of ship?

The verb ship, originally meaning “to discuss or portray a romantic couple in fiction, especially in a serial” is a shortening of (relation)ship and dates only from 1996.

how is ship used?

The characters are ‘shipped by enough people that the duo has a name: Reylo.

Alexis Rhiannon, "Kylo Ren & Rey's 'Last Jedi' Relationship Is Tearing The Fandom Apart & Here's Why," Bustle, December 2017

It’s a popular misunderstanding that one can only ship two characters who are not already romantically involved on a show. In fact, it’s perfectly appropriate to ship, for example, Jim and Pam from “The Office.”

Jonah Engel Bromwich, "Who Do You Ship? What Tumblr Tells Us About Fan Culture," New York Times, December 4, 2017
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