Word of the Day

Sunday, October 28, 2018

ossature

[ os-uh-cher, -choor ]

noun

the arrangement of bones in the skeleton or a body part.

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What is the origin of ossature?

Ossature is a borrowing from French ossature, probably modeled on French musculature. The base of ossature is the Latin noun os (stem oss-) “bone,” which comes from the Proto-Indo-European root ost- “bone.” Greek derives from the same root ostéon “bone” (as in osteology), óstrakon “potsherd” (as in ostracize), and óstreon “oyster” (the English noun comes from Greek via Old French and Latin). Ossature entered English in the 19th century.

how is ossature used?

The ossature of its wings had been like the exquisite work of some Japanese cabinet-maker …

James Hopper, "On the Back of the Dragon," Everybody's Magazine, July 1910

… thus the whole vault was furnished with an ossature or skeleton of ribs which was clothed upon by filling in with with arched masonry the triangular spaces or panels between rib and rib.

T. G. Jackson, Reason of Architecture, 1906
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Saturday, October 27, 2018

necropolis

[ nuh-krop-uh-lis, ne- ]

noun

a cemetery, especially one of large size and usually of an ancient city.

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What is the origin of necropolis?

Necropolis, Greek for “city of the dead, corpse city,” first appears in the works of the Greek historian and geographer Strabo (c 63 b.c.-c 21a.d.). It was originally the name of the cemetery district in Alexandria, Egypt (founded by Alexander the Great in 323 b.c.). Greek nekrós means “corpse” (its plural nekrói means “the dead”); its combining form necro- forms the first half of necromancy (divination through communication with the dead, one of the blackest of the black arts). Nekrós comes from the Proto-Indo-European root nek- “death,” with a variant nok- “to kill.” From the same root Latin has the noun nex (stem nec-) “murder, violent death” (as in internecine, whose original English meaning was “deadly”). From the variant nok- Latin derives the verb nocēre “to harm” (source of nocent and innocent) and the adjective noxius “guilty, delinquent, harmful, injurious.” Greek pólis “city,” more properly “citadel, fortified high place,” is related to Sanskrit pū́r, puram “city,” as in Singapore “Lion City,” ultimately from Sanskrit siṁha- “lion” and pū́r, puram. Necropolis entered English in the 19th century.

how is necropolis used?

The column of mourners moved under the archway into the necropolis, progressing slowly up the hill towards a spot where Fidelma could see several other torches burning.

Peter Tremayne, Behold a Pale Horse, 2011

Just beyond an island of hemlocks the road divides into the cluttered plain of the necropolis, grey and white as an overexposed snapshot.

Marge Piercy, Braided Lives, 1982
Friday, October 26, 2018

timorous

[ tim-er-uhs ]

adjective

full of fear; fearful: The noise made them timorous.

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What is the origin of timorous?

Timorous, “fearful,” has several spellings in Middle English, e.g., tymerous, timerous, temerous, which all come via Old French temeros, timoureus from the Medieval Latin adjective timōrōsus “fearful,” a derivative of the Latin noun timor “fear,” itself a derivative of the verb timēre “to fear, be afraid.” (There is no further reliable etymology for the Latin.) The English and French spellings tim- and tem- betray a confusion going back to at least the 14th century between derivations of the Latin verb timēre “to fear” and adverb temere “rashly, recklessly” (the source of the English noun temerity). From the English variant spelling timerous (“fearful”), English forms the uncommon noun temerity “fearfulness, timidity,” which is also spelled timerite and temerity, the latter spelling continuing that confusion. Timorous entered English in the 15th century.

how is timorous used?

Besides these fearful things, he was expected to do what terrified him into the very core of his somewhat timorous heart.

L. T. Meade, A Little Mother to the Others, 1896

Though the fellow is far from being timorous in cases that are not supposed preternatural, he could not stand the sight of this apparition, but ran into the kitchen, with his hair standing on end, staring wildly, and deprived of utterance.

Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, 1771

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