Word of the Day

Sunday, November 03, 2019

obumbrate

[ ob-uhm-breyt ]

verb (used with object)

to darken, overshadow, or cloud.

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What is the origin of obumbrate?

The Latin root of obumbrate helps clarify this verb meaning “to darken, overshadow, or cloud”: umbra, “shadow, shade.” Obumbrate comes from Latin obumbrāre “to overshadow, shade, darken.” Obumbrāre combines the prefix ob– “on, over” (among other senses) and umbrāre “to shade,” a derivative of umbra. English owes many other words to Latin umbra, including adumbrate, penumbra, umbrage, and umbrella, the latter of which can be literally understood as “a little shade.” Obumbrate entered English in the early 1500s.

how is obumbrate used?

… that solemn interval of time when the gloom of midnight obumbrates the globe ….

, The Summer Miscellany; or, A Present for the Country, 1742

It requires no stretch of mind to conceive that a man placed in a corner of Germany may be every whit as pragmatical and self-important as another man placed in Newhaven, and withal as liable to confound and obumbrate every subject that may fall his way ….

, General Advertiser, September 3, 1798
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Saturday, November 02, 2019

squee

[ skwee ]

verb (used without object)

to squeal with joy, excitement, etc.

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What is the origin of squee?

Squee! It’s easy to hear how this word imitates the sound of a high-pitched squeal. As an expression of joy, excitement, celebration, or the like, squee originates as a playful, written interjection in digital communications in the late 1990s, as in “OMG is in the dictionary. Squee!” By the early 2000s, squee expanded as a verb used to convey such excited emotions: “The students squeed when they learned the Word of the Day.”

how is squee used?

I squeed in happiness when I stole a warrior’s Whirlwind attack and used it against him.

Carol Pinchefsky, "A 'World of Warcraft' Player Reviews 'Guild Wars 2'," Forbes, August 26, 2012

… we’re also going to take a moment to squee about the possibility of Martian microbes.

Michelle Starr, "Giant Lake of Liquid Water Found Hiding Under Mars' South Pole," Science Alert, July 25, 2018
Friday, November 01, 2019

Lilliputian

[ lil-i-pyoo-shuhn ]

adjective

extremely small; tiny; diminutive.

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What is the origin of Lilliputian?

In the first of the four adventures of his 1726 satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift has his narrator, Lemuel Gulliver, shipwrecked on the invented island of Lilliput. Its residents, the Lilliputians, are under six inches high—and their smallness is widely interpreted as a commentary on the British politics of Swift’s day. Lilliputian was quickly extended as an adjective meaning “extremely small; tiny; diminutive,” often implying a sense of pettiness. In the second adventure, Gulliver voyages to an imaginary land of giants, the Brobdingnagians, whose name has been adopted as a colorful antonym for Lilliputian.

how is Lilliputian used?

The Lilliputian vest was over-the-top ’00s style at its finest ….

Liana Satenstein, "Is Fashion Ready for the Return of the Tiny Little Vest?" Vogue, September 25, 2019

… miniature things still have the power to enthrall us …. That, at least, is one theory as to why people obsessively re-create big things in Lilliputian dimensions.

Belinda Lanks, "'In Miniature' Review: Let's Get Small," Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2019

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