Word of the Day

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

omnishambles

[ om-nuh-sham-buh lz ]

noun

Chiefly British Informal. a situation, especially in politics, in which poor judgment results in disorder or chaos with potentially disastrous consequences.

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What is the origin of omnishambles?

The first element of omnishambles, omni- “all,” is familiar in English in omnibus, omnipotent, omnivorous, and omniscient, derived from the Latin adjective omnis “all.” Shambles has a gorier history. In the 9th century the Old English noun scomol (spelled variously) simply meant “stool, footstool,” derived from Latin scamellum, scamillum “low stool.” By the 10th century the noun also meant “a counter or table for conducting business”; by the 14th century the word acquired the sense “table or counter for selling meat.” During the 16th century shambles came to mean “slaughterhouse; place of wholesale carnage.” Shambles in the sense “a mess, a ruin, scene of disorder” was originally an Americanism, first occurring in print in 1926.

how is omnishambles used?

The Budget, dubbed an ‘omnishambles‘ by critics, marked the government’s mid-term low point which even the triumph of the London Olympics was unable to dispel.

Michael Burton, The Politics of Austerity, 2016

Iannucci calls these characters “well-meaning but damaged individuals” and by putting them into situations of omnishambles where everything is deeply at stake, he makes a stronger satire of Washington and more entertaining television.

Marc Edward Shaw, "Veep's poetics of omnishambles," Politics and Politicians in Contemporary US Television, 2017
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

purse-proud

[ purs-proud ]

adjective

proud of one's wealth, especially in an arrogant or showy manner.

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What is the origin of purse-proud?

Purse-proud was first recorded in 1675–85.

how is purse-proud used?

London was still London … heavy, clumsy, arrogant, purse-proud but not cheap; insular but large; barely tolerant of an outside world, and absolutely self-confident.

Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1918

The fellow is a bad neighbour, and I desire, to have nothing to do with him: but as he is purse-proud, he shall pay for his insolence …

Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, 1771
Monday, April 16, 2018

ken

[ ken ]

noun

knowledge, understanding, or cognizance; mental perception: an idea beyond one's ken.

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What is the origin of ken?

English ken comes from the very widespread Proto-Indo-European root gnō- (and its variants gnē-, gen-, and gṇ-) “to know.” The variant gnō- appears in Greek gignṓskein (and dialect gnṓskein), Latin gnōscere, nōscere, and Slavic (Polish) znać “to know.” The variant gnē- forms cnāwan in Old English (and know in English); the variant gṇǝ- (with suffixed schwa) yields cunnan “to know, know how to, be able” in Old English (and can “be able” in English). Ken is recorded in English before 900.

how is ken used?

Books, Mr. Taylor thought, should swim into one’s ken mysteriously; they should appear all printed and bound, without apparent genesis; just as children are suddenly told that they have a little sister, found by mamma in the garden.

Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams, 1907

Little things, trifles, slip out of one’s ken, and one does not think it matter for surprise; but how so bulky a thing as the Seal of England can vanish away and no man be able to get track of it again–a massy golden disk …

Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper, 1881

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