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Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

noetic

[ noh-et-ik ]

adjective

of or relating to the mind.

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What is the origin of noetic?

Noetic, “relating to the mind; originating in or comprehended by the reason,” is very common in all genres of Greek literature, but especially in Platonic, Aristotelian, and Neoplatonic philosophy. The word comes straight from the Greek adjective noētikós “intellectual,” a derivative of the noun nóēsis “thought, intelligence.” Nóēsis is a derivative of the verb noeîn, which in turn comes from the noun noûs, the Attic Greek contracted variant of general Greek nóos “mind, sense, intellect” (Attic Greek, the dialect of Attica, whose capital was Athens, was the basis for Koine or standardized Greek after the late 4th century). As with about 60 percent of ancient Greek vocabulary, there is no convincing etymology for noûs, nóos. In colloquial British usage, nous (rhyming with mouse, not with moose) also means “common sense, practical intelligence.” Noetic entered English in the middle of the 17th century.

how is noetic used?

The Kyaanusili peace poem is as tightly patterned as a sonnet, as symmetrical and strophic as a Greek choral ode, and in its way as richly rhymed as a troubadour song—and yet these patterns, strophes, rhymes, are made primarily of ideas and of images, only secondarily sounds. This is noetic prosody.

Robert Bringhurst, A Story a Sharp as a Knife, 1999

He is a noetic butterfly that no one has pinned down—he was once offered a job on the Clinton economic team, and the Bush campaign approached him about being a crime adviser—but who is widely appreciated.

Stephen J. Dubner, "The Probability That a Real-Estate Agent Is Cheating You (and Other Riddles of Modern Life), New York Times Magazine, August 3, 2003

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Word of the day

Monday, July 26, 2021

hugger-mugger

[ huhg-er-muhg-er ]

noun

secrecy; reticence.

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What is the origin of hugger-mugger?

The noun hugger-mugger, “disorder or confusion; secrecy; reticence,” has the earlier spellings hucker-mucker, hukermoker, hoker moker, hocker-mocker, hugger mucker, and the Scots variants huggrie-muggrie and hudge-mudge. All of these variant forms share reduplication, similar sounds, and nearly identical meanings, but there is no secure origin or origins for them. The word or element mucker leads some scholars to see a connection with Middle English moker “worldly possessions, wealth” and mokeren, mokren “to heap up (money); hoard.” Hugger-mugger entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is hugger-mugger used?

Usually, Victor enjoyed hidden doors, secret passageways, and the hugger-mugger that was necessarily part of any scheme to destroy civilization.

Dan Koontz and Ed Gorman, City of Night, 2005

Newsom doesn’t relish the rote functions of politics. His smile when he poses with voters is a rictus, he ducks fund-raising calls, and he lacks patience for the backroom hugger-mugger required to pass legislation.

Tad Friend, "Gavin Newsom, the Next Head of the California Resistance," The New Yorker, October 29, 2018

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Word of the day

Sunday, July 25, 2021

perorate

[ per-uh-reyt ]

verb (used without object)

to speak at length; make a long, usually grandiloquent speech.

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What is the origin of perorate?

The verb perorate, “to speak at length; make a long, grandiloquent speech,” comes from Latin perōrātus, the past participle of perōrāre “to plead, harangue, argue a case to the end; deliver the final part of a speech, wind up a case.” Perōrāre is a compound of the preposition and intensive prefix per, per– “through, thoroughly” and the simple verb ōrāre “to beseech, supplicate; speak before a court, plead.” Perōrāre and its derivative noun perōrātiō (inflectional stem perōrātiōn– “peroration”) in Latin imply grandiloquence and forcefulness, but not length, let alone long-windedness, which is a connotation that has always existed in English. Perorate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is perorate used?

And it’s simply impossible to exit a Zoom lecture gracefully. Believe me, I’ve tried. After I painstakingly perorate on Plato, a virtual red-velvet curtain should fall with flourish at the designated moment and cue the applause. Instead, we mumble, “that’s it,” and awkwardly fumble for the mouse before the screen freezes on our half-gaping mouths.

Shahidha Bari, "What We've Lost in a Year of Virtual Teaching," The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 17, 2021

She began to perorate. Her speech went on endlessly, as was always the case when Lily Young took the floor.

Antoine Volodine, Minor Angels, translated by Jordan Stump, 2004

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