Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, June 24, 2021

non sequitur

[ non -sek-wi-ter, -toor ]

noun

something said or written that is unrelated to what immediately precedes.

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What is the origin of non sequitur?

The Latin sentence non sequitur, “it doesn’t follow” in English is used as a noun whose original meaning was “an inference or a conclusion that does not follow from the premises,” i.e., a logical fallacy, a usage established by Cicero in the 1st century b.c. A typical example of such a fallacy is: “If X is true, then Y is true. But Y is true. Therefore, X is true.” Nowadays non sequitur mostly means “a statement containing an illogical conclusion,” especially a conclusion that is amusing, whether intentional or not, or “something said or written that is unrelated to what immediately precedes.”

how is non sequitur used?

And who would want to forget, say, “Mr. F’s Aunt,” whose outbursts of demented rage at poor Arthur Clennam in “Little Dorrit” make no sense at all. “There’s milestones on the Dover Road!” “When we lived at Henley, Barnes’s gander was stole by tinkers.” … Mr. F’s Aunt’s malign non sequiturs would be immortal in whatever book Dickens had chosen to insert them.

Robert Gottlieb, "Robert Gottlieb on Dickensworld — the Great Novelist's Grand Universe," New York Times, November 6, 2020

But every day many people find themselves sitting across the table from a negotiation partner they can’t abandon or replace: their kids. How might parents manage these often fraught, exasperating conversations in which their counterpart, lacking self-awareness, sometimes seems to think it strategic to respond with complete non sequiturs?

Joe Pinsker, "How a Negotiation Expert Would Bargain With a Kid," The Atlantic, June 13, 2019

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Word of the day

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

inimical

[ ih-nim-i-kuhl ]

adjective

unfriendly; hostile.

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What is the origin of inimical?

Inimical “unfriendly, hostile” comes from the Late Latin adjective inimīcālis, first used by the 5th-century Christian author Sidonius Apollinaris, a major political, diplomatic, literary, and religious figure of Gaul (now France, more or less)—indeed, of the Western Roman Empire. Sidonius Apollinaris had the delicate task of balancing the waning power of the Roman emperor against the rising power of the new Gothic kingdom comprising most of France and Spain, while at the same time also avoiding religious controversy. Inimīcālis is a derivative of the noun inimīcus, a compound of the negative prefix in– “not, un-” and a form of amīcus “friend”; unsurprisingly an inimīcus is an “unfriend.” Inimical entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is inimical used?

I rolled over and tried to get back to sleep, but I kept seeing faces—the highway robber’s inimical glare, the kid’s grin, the mother’s distorted mouth and wild eyes.

Barbara Michaels, The Dancing Floor, 1997

In 1960, the CIA said 6,500 objects had been reported to the U.S. Air Force over the prior 13 years. The Air Force concluded there was no evidence those sightings were “inimical or hostile” or related to “interplanetary space ships,” the CIA said.

Nomaan Merchant and Calvin Woodward, "'There is stuff': Enduring mysteries trail US report on UFOs," Associated Press, June 5, 2021

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Word of the day

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

farraginous

[ fuh-raj-uh-nuhs ]

adjective

heterogeneous; mixed.

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What is the origin of farraginous?

The adjective farraginous “heterogeneous; mixed” ultimately comes from the Latin noun farrāgō (inflectional stem farrāgin-) “mixed grains” (used for animal feed). Farrāgo is a compound of far (inflectional stem farr-) “husked wheat, emmer” and the noun-forming suffix –āgō (stem āgin-). Other derivatives of far include farīna “meal, flour” (English farina) and its adjective farīnāceus (English farinaceous). Far comes from the Proto-Indo-European root bhers– or bhares– “barley,” source of Old Icelandic barr “grain, barley” and Old English bere, which forms the first syllable of modern English barley. Farraginous entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is farraginous used?

In general we suspect that the simpler the pasta dish, the more successful it is likely to be. … But fancier linguine alla grana (whole wheat pasta) was a disaster, a farraginous mound with bits of filet mignon and mushrooms in a fatty brown sauce.

M. H. Reed, "Where the Appetizers Take Center Stage," New York Times, November 5, 1995

For being a confusion of knaves and fools, and a farraginous concurrence of all conditions, tempers, sexes, and ages, it is but natural if their determinations be monstrous and many ways inconsistent with truth.

Sir Thomas Browne, Vulgar Errors, 1646

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