Word of the Day

Saturday, October 27, 2018

necropolis

[ nuh-krop-uh-lis, ne- ]

noun

a cemetery, especially one of large size and usually of an ancient city.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of necropolis?

Necropolis, Greek for “city of the dead, corpse city,” first appears in the works of the Greek historian and geographer Strabo (c 63 b.c.-c 21a.d.). It was originally the name of the cemetery district in Alexandria, Egypt (founded by Alexander the Great in 323 b.c.). Greek nekrós means “corpse” (its plural nekrói means “the dead”); its combining form necro- forms the first half of necromancy (divination through communication with the dead, one of the blackest of the black arts). Nekrós comes from the Proto-Indo-European root nek- “death,” with a variant nok- “to kill.” From the same root Latin has the noun nex (stem nec-) “murder, violent death” (as in internecine, whose original English meaning was “deadly”). From the variant nok- Latin derives the verb nocēre “to harm” (source of nocent and innocent) and the adjective noxius “guilty, delinquent, harmful, injurious.” Greek pólis “city,” more properly “citadel, fortified high place,” is related to Sanskrit pū́r, puram “city,” as in Singapore “Lion City,” ultimately from Sanskrit siṁha- “lion” and pū́r, puram. Necropolis entered English in the 19th century.

how is necropolis used?

The column of mourners moved under the archway into the necropolis, progressing slowly up the hill towards a spot where Fidelma could see several other torches burning.

Peter Tremayne, Behold a Pale Horse, 2011

Just beyond an island of hemlocks the road divides into the cluttered plain of the necropolis, grey and white as an overexposed snapshot.

Marge Piercy, Braided Lives, 1982
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.
Friday, October 26, 2018

timorous

[ tim-er-uhs ]

adjective

full of fear; fearful: The noise made them timorous.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of timorous?

Timorous, “fearful,” has several spellings in Middle English, e.g., tymerous, timerous, temerous, which all come via Old French temeros, timoureus from the Medieval Latin adjective timōrōsus “fearful,” a derivative of the Latin noun timor “fear,” itself a derivative of the verb timēre “to fear, be afraid.” (There is no further reliable etymology for the Latin.) The English and French spellings tim- and tem- betray a confusion going back to at least the 14th century between derivations of the Latin verb timēre “to fear” and adverb temere “rashly, recklessly” (the source of the English noun temerity). From the English variant spelling timerous (“fearful”), English forms the uncommon noun temerity “fearfulness, timidity,” which is also spelled timerite and temerity, the latter spelling continuing that confusion. Timorous entered English in the 15th century.

how is timorous used?

Besides these fearful things, he was expected to do what terrified him into the very core of his somewhat timorous heart.

L. T. Meade, A Little Mother to the Others, 1896

Though the fellow is far from being timorous in cases that are not supposed preternatural, he could not stand the sight of this apparition, but ran into the kitchen, with his hair standing on end, staring wildly, and deprived of utterance.

Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, 1771
Thursday, October 25, 2018

dirigible

[ dir-i-juh-buh l, dih-rij-uh- ]

noun

an airship.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of dirigible?

Dirigible is a shortening of “dirigible balloon,” a translation of the French ballon dirigeable “steerable balloon.” Dirigible and dirigeable are derivatives of the Latin verb dīrigere “to guide, align, straighten” and the common suffix -ible “capable of, fit for.” Dirigible in its literal sense “capable of being directed” dates from the late 16th century; the sense referring to the balloon or airship dates from the late 19th century.

how is dirigible used?

With gas cells collapsing, framework breaking up, and controls out of order, the great dirigible had reared and plunged and finally had fallen 3,000 feet into the Pacific.

Edwin Teale, "Does Latest Disaster Spell Doom for the Dirigible?" Popular Science Monthly, May 1935

Being up in that tower was like being in a dirigible above the clouds.

Umberto Eco, "The Gorge," The New Yorker, March 7, 2005

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.