Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, May 10, 2021

oligopoly

[ ol-i-gop-uh-lee ]

noun

the market condition that exists when there are few sellers, as a result of which they can greatly influence price and other market factors.

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What is the origin of oligopoly?

Oligopoly, “a condition of the market in which there are few sellers, which grants sellers great influence over prices,” is modeled on the familiar noun monopoly (via Latin monopōlium “sole right to sell a commodity,” from Greek monopṓlion “right of monopoly, exclusive sale”). Oligopoly is a compound of the combining form oligo– “few, a few, little” (most often seen in oligarchy “government by only a few”) from Greek olígos, of uncertain etymology. The element –poly, common to monopoly and oligopoly, is a derivative of the Greek verb pōleîn “to offer for sale, sell.” Oligopoly entered English towards the end of the 19th century.

how is oligopoly used?

U.S. housing debates rarely involve the “O” word. But oligopolies, a cousin of monopolies in which a few powerful players corner the market, are emerging everywhere.

Andrew Van Dam, "Economists identify an unseen force holding back affordable housing," Washington Post, October 17, 2019

If she’s stressed and wants to relax outside the shadow of an oligopoly, she’ll have to stay away from ebooks, music, and beer; two companies control more than half of all sales in each of these markets. There is no escape—literally.

Derek Thompson, "America's Monopoly Problem," The Atlantic, October 2016

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Word of the day

Sunday, May 09, 2021

nonesuch

[ nuhn-suhch ]

noun

a person or thing without equal; paragon.

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What is the origin of nonesuch?

The noun nonesuch (also spelled nonsuch), “someone or something without equal,” is a compound of the pronoun none and the adjective such. The word’s earliest sense was as an impersonal term or neuter word meaning “something unparalleled,” a sense it still has. By the mid-17th century, nonesuch came to mean “a person without equal, beyond compare.” Nonesuch entered English in the second half of the 16th century. Middle English had the compound word non-swich, an adjective meaning “no such,” and a pronoun meaning “no such person, no such thing,” but not “someone or something without parallel.” Nonesuch entered English in the late 16th century.

how is nonesuch used?

She is a nonesuch, of course. No woman in England, or out of England like her.

Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr, A Song of a Single Note, 1902

I had a good look at the Indianapolis Union Station—a celebrated architectural nonesuch—and then took a deep breath, crossed myself several times, and approached the man at the ticket window.

"Talk of the Town: Now and Then," The New Yorker, March 2, 1981

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Word of the day

Saturday, May 08, 2021

obnubilate

[ ob-noo-buh-leyt, -nyoo- ]

verb (used with object)

to cloud over; becloud; obscure.

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What is the origin of obnubilate?

The verb obnubilate, “to cloud over; obscure,” comes straight from Latin obnūbilātus, the past participle of the verb obnūbilāre “to become cloudy, to darken (the mind),” a compound verb formed from the prefix ob– “towards, in the face of, against” and the simple verb nūbilāre “to become cloudy, overcast, opaque,” a derivative of the adjective nūbilus “cloudy, overcast,” which in its turn is a derivative of the noun nūbēs “cloud.” In Latin, nūb– is a regular phonetic development from the Proto-Indo-European root sneudh– “mist, cloud” (sneudh– > snoudh– > nūb-), the source of Avestan (the language of the Zoroastrian scriptures) snaodha– “clouds, cloud cover” and Welsh nudd “fog.” Obnubilate entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is obnubilate used?

Dost thou think because a cloud sometimes may cover and obnubilate the Sun, that it will therefore shine no more?

Anonymous, The Stage-Players Complaint, 1641

It is the pity of the world, Dr Maturin, to see a man of your parts obnubilate his mind with the juice of the poppy.

Patrick O'Brian, The Mauritius Command, 1977

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