Word of the Day

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

otiose

[ oh-shee-ohs, oh-tee- ]

adjective

being at leisure; idle; indolent.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of otiose?

The many meanings of the English adjective otiose are pretty much the same as the Latin original, ōtiōsus. Ōtiōsus means “not busy with business or politics, leisurely, avoiding work or action, ineffectual, useless, peaceable, tranquil, vacant (land or public office).” Ōtiōsus is a derivative of the noun ōtium “spare time, leisure time, time off (from work or the army), inactivity, idleness, holiday, vacation, ease, rest, peace and tranquility.” Otiose entered English in the late 18th century.

how is otiose used?

He was habitually otiose. Lounging in his relax-a-chair was his favorite occupation.

Ellie Grossman, "The Grammar Guru: Some words are too big for their britches," The Blade, September 27, 2001

There is nothing more idle than ten-best or ten-worst lists, and it would be utterly rash and otiose to pick the most overrated playwrights of the American thirties; the real trick would be to find a single underrated one.

John Simon, "Raggle-Taggle Rundown," New York, March 19, 1984
WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ
Put your wits to the test! New quizzes added weekly.
TAKE THE QUIZ
ALEXA, ENABLE DICTIONARY.COM
Now you can ask Alexa what the Word of the Day is at any time.
ENABLE ALEXA

SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL

Get the Word of the Day delivered daily
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Monday, May 27, 2019

decoration

[ dek-uh-rey-shuhn ]

noun

a badge, medal, etc., conferred and worn as a mark of honor: a decoration for bravery.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of decoration?

English decoration is a straightforward borrowing from Late Latin decorātiō (inflectional stem decorātiōn-) “adornment, ornament,” a derivative of the verb decorāre. Decorāre in turn derives from decor– (inflectional stem of decus) “an ornament, splendor, honor.” Decus is related to the verbs decēre “to be acceptable, be fitting” and docēre “to teach,” i.e., “to make fitting.” Decoration entered English in the 16th century.

how is decoration used?

He was later awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration ….

Harrison Smith, "Howard Lee, Medal of Honor recipient who led a long-odds defense, dies at 85," Washington Post, March 31, 2019

In short order, White won a Rhodes scholarship, became the best-paid player of his era in the National Football League and its rushing champion and earned decorations for his wartime Navy service.

Laura Kalman, "John Kennedy's Nonconformist," New York Times, August 23, 1998
Sunday, May 26, 2019

seriatim

[ seer-ee-ey-tim, ser- ]

adverb, adjective

in a series; one after another.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of seriatim?

The English adverb seriatim “one after another, in a series,” comes directly from the Medieval Latin adverb seriātim, which has the same meaning. Seriātim is composed of the Latin noun seriēs “line, series” and the adverb suffix –ātim, extracted from Latin adverbs like gradātim “by steps, ascending or descending gradually,” and certātim “in rivalry, emulously.” The suffix is a useful one, forming adverbs like literātim “literally, letter for letter, literatim,” and verbātim “literally, word for word, verbatim.” Seriatim entered English in the late 15th century.

how is seriatim used?

I’ve been reading all the “Doonesbury” strips from the fall of 1976 through January of 1980, seriatim.

Rick Perlstein, "Rick Perlstein: By the Book," New York Times, August 28, 2014

This is no place to list his achievements, nor need his failures be set down seriatim.

"President Taft," The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 109, 1912
Saturday, May 25, 2019

hermitage

[ hur-mi-tij ]

noun

any secluded place of residence or habitation; retreat; hideaway.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of hermitage?

The history of the English noun hermitage is complicated by the unetymological h-. Middle English and Old French have both hermitage and ermitage (and many other spellings). Late Latin (in a 5th-century Christian author) has erēmīta (correctly) “eremite, hermit,” from Greek erēmī́tēs, a very rare noun and adjective meaning “of the desert,” and first occurring in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible dating from the 3rd century b.c.) in the Book of Job. The Greek noun (and therefore the Latin, too) is a derivative of erêmos (also érēmos), an adjective and noun meaning “solitary, desolate, lonely; a desert.” The spellings herēmīta and its derivative herēmītagium “hermitage” first appear in Medieval Latin. Hermitage entered English in the late 13th century.

how is hermitage used?

… I had found out for myself a little hermitage. It was a kind of leafy cave, high upward into the air, among the midmost branches of a white-pine tree.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, 1852

In the end, the legend holds, Lancelot goes to live in penitence in a hermitage, while the king, mortally wounded, is set adrift on a ship—to one day rise again.

Kathryn Schulz, "Rapt," The New Yorker, March 2, 2015
Friday, May 24, 2019

proselyte

[ pros-uh-lahyt ]

noun

a person who has changed from one opinion, religious belief, sect, or the like, to another; convert.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of proselyte?

The English noun proselyte comes via Old French and Late Latin prosēlytus “sojourner, foreigner, stranger, a convert from paganism to Judaism.” Prosēlytus first occurs in the Vulgate, the Latin version of the Bible, prepared chiefly by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century a.d. Prosēlytus comes from Greek prosḗlytos “one who has arrived, stranger, sojourner.” Prosḗlytos and its kindred terms occur in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible dating from the 3rd century b.c.) and the Greek New Testament. Prosḗlytos is equivalent to an unrecorded prosḗlythos, a derivative of the verb prosérchesthai “to come forward, go, approach.” Proselyte entered English in the 14th century.

how is proselyte used?

… I began to believe that if he did not make a proselyte of me, I should certainly make one of him ….

Charlotte Lennox, Henrietta, 1758

Still, proselytes often find that being Paleo quickly becomes a round-the-clock duty.

Alex Williams, "The Paleo Lifestyle: The Way, Way, Way Back," New York Times, September 19, 2014
Thursday, May 23, 2019

overmorrow

[ oh-ver-mawr-oh, ‐mor-oh ]

noun

the day after tomorrow: I’ve heard that tomorrow and overmorrow may bring exceptionally high waves.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of overmorrow?

Overmorrow had a brief history, first recorded in the first half of the 16th century and lasting into the second half of that same century. The rare word occurred in the phrase “today, tomorrow, and overmorrow.”

how is overmorrow used?

It comes round on the overmorrow / Then why we wake we know aright.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), Faust, translated by Thomas E. Webb, 1880

“Do ye stop in tha cove over ‘morrow, Ralph?” she asked, with a sanguine intonation.

W. F. Alexander, "Down Zabuloe Way," The Gentleman's Magazine, August 1898
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

self-possessed

[ self-puh-zest, self- ]

adjective

having or showing control of one's feelings, behavior, etc.; composed; poised.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of self-possessed?

The adjective self-possessed, which entered English in the mid-18th century, is a derivative of the earlier noun self-possession, which appeared a hundred years earlier.

how is self-possessed used?

There was an occasional copied page of her diary in which she appeared contented, and self-possessed: autonomous in a way I could not imagine for myself.

Alice Walker, Possessing the Secret of Joy, 1992

Unburdening himself his coat, he was not self-possessed enough to find in his pocket the scroll of resolutions which every one saw protruding from it …

Wendell Phillips, "Mobs and Education," Speeches, Lectures, and Letters, 1863

SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL

Get the Word of the Day delivered daily
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.