• Word of the day
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    Thursday, May 31, 2018

    palpebral

    adjective [pal-puh-bruhl, pal-pee-bruhl, -peb-ruhl]
    of or relating to the eyelids.
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    What is the origin of palpebral?

    The Latin noun palpebra (also palpebrum) “eyelid” is composed of the verb palpāre “to touch, stroke, caress” and -brum, a suffix forming nouns of instruments, e.g., candēlābrum “a stand for holding several candles, candelabra.” Palpāre derives from a complicated Proto-Indo-European root pāl- (from peǝl-) and its many variants, e.g., pel-, pelǝ-, plē-, etc. “to touch, feel, flutter, float.” A palpebra is “something that flutters (quickly).” The root is also the source of Latin palpitāre “(of a pulse) to beat, pulsate,” pāpiliō “butterfly, moth,” and Old English fēlan “to examine by touch,” English feel. Palpebral entered English in the mid-18th century.

    How is palpebral used?

    adrift on a gold-brown leather recliner, / the little finger of her left hand tapping / on the crocheted antimacassar, / palpebral twitches of chronic hypnagogia. Rodney Jones, "Requiem for Reba Portis," Village Prodigies, 2017

    In his palpebral vision, she beckoned. Richard Fariña, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, 1966

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, May 30, 2018

    mump

    verb [muhmp, moomp]
    to sulk; mope.
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    What is the origin of mump?

    The rare English verb mump is akin to the equally rare Dutch mompen “to mumble, grumble,” and the magnificent German verbs mumpfen “to chew with one’s mouth full” and mimpfeln “to mumble while eating.” The Germanic verbs most likely derive from a Proto-Indo-European root meuǝ- “be silent,” from which English also derives mum “silent,” Latin mūtus “silent, mute,” and Greek mustḗrion “secret rite, mystery,” a derivative of mústēs “an initiate,” a derivative of mueîn “to initiate, instruct, teach,” itself a derivative of múein “to close the eyes, mouth, or other opening” (lest one reveal what is not to be revealed). Mump entered English in the 16th century.

    How is mump used?

    Up, Dullard! It is better service to enjoy a novel than to mump. Robert Louis Stevenson, "Letter to his Mother, December 30, 1883" Selected Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, 1997

    Come, my dear fellow, do not spoil the excellent impression you have already made. I am sure to mump and moan is not in you ... John Collis Snaith, The Wayfarers, 1902

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    excogitate

    verb [eks-koj-i-teyt]
    to think out; devise; invent.
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    What is the origin of excogitate?

    Excogitate comes from Latin excōgitātus, the past participle of excōgitāre meaning “to devise, invent, think out.” It entered English in the 1520s.

    How is excogitate used?

    I wouldn't put the question to you for the world, and expose you to the inconvenience of having to ... excogitate an answer. Henry James, Washington Square, 1880

    The average politician knows fully as little or as much about railway management as he does about photographing the moon or applying the solar spectrum; yet, once upon a board of railway commissioners, he is required to excogitate and frame rules for an industry which not only supplies the financial arteries of a continent, but holds the lives as well as the credits of its citizens dependent upon the click of a telegraph or the angle of a semaphore ... Appleton Morgan, "The Political Control of Railways: Is It Confiscation?" Popular Science Monthly, February 1889

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, May 28, 2018

    estimable

    adjective [es-tuh-muh-buhl]
    deserving respect or admiration; worthy of esteem.
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    What is the origin of estimable?

    The English adjective estimable comes via French estimable from Latin aestimābilis, a derivative of aestimāre “to value, price, estimate the money value of.” The etymology of aestimāre is unclear, but it may be related to Latin aes (stem aer-) “copper, bronze, brass,” from Proto-Indo-European ayes-, ayos- “metal, copper,” from which Sanskrit derives áyas- “metal, iron,” Gothic aiz “bronze,” German Erz “ore” (the Erzgebirge, “Ore Mountain Range,” lies between Saxony, Germany, and Bohemia, Czech Republic), Old English ār “ore, copper, brass,” and English ore. Estimable entered English in the 15th century.

    How is estimable used?

    He is the most estimable, the most trustworthy creature in the world, and I will venture to say, there is not a better seaman in all the merchant service. Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo, translated by Adolphe Cohn, 1922

    Nothing is more typical of Armstrong, or more estimable, than his decision not to go into politics; heaven knows what the blandishments, or the invitations, must have been. Anthony Lane, "The Man and the Moon," The New Yorker, August 26, 2012

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, May 27, 2018

    lateritious

    adjective [lat-uh-rish-uhs]
    of the color of brick; brick-red.
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    What is the origin of lateritious?

    The very rare adjective lateritious comes from Latin latericius (also lateritius) “made of brick,” a derivative of the noun later “brick, tile, block, ingot.” In English lateritious is used in medicine, biology, and geology to describe the color of urine, sediment, or stone. Lateritious entered English in the 17th century.

    How is lateritious used?

    He scanned the sooted pillars and lateritious stone, and her spark began to fade for him. David Whellams, Walking Into the Ocean, 2012

    The powders made from this bark are at first of a light brown, tinged with a dusky yellow; and the longer they are kept, the more they incline to a cinnamon or lateritious colour, which he believed was the case with the Peruvian bark and powders. Reverend Edward Stone, "On the Success of the Bark of the Willow in the Cure of Agues," April 25, 1763, The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. XII, 1763–1769

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, May 26, 2018

    ferly

    noun [fer-lee]
    something unusual, strange, or causing wonder or terror.
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    What is the origin of ferly?

    Nowadays ferly is used only in Scottish English as a noun meaning “a wonder, a marvel,” and a verb “to wonder.” The Old English source is the adjective fǣrlīc “sudden,” a derivative of the noun fǣr “fear” (akin to German Gefahr “danger” and gefährlich “dangerous”).

    How is ferly used?

    As on a May morning, on Malvern hills, / Me befell a ferly of fairy, methought. William Langland (c1330–c1400), The Vision of Piers Plowman, 1360–99

    Many a ferly fares to the fair-eyed ... William Morris, Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair, 1895

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, May 25, 2018

    pasquinade

    noun [pas-kwuh-neyd]
    a satire or lampoon, especially one posted in a public place.
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    What is the origin of pasquinade?

    English pasquinade comes via French pasquinade from Italian pasquinata “a satire, lampoon,” a derivative of Pasquino, supposedly the name of a local Roman schoolmaster (or tailor, or shoemaker, or barber), and the nickname given to a 3rd-century b.c. fragment of statuary discovered in 1501 (now known to be Menelaus carrying the body of Patroclus). Cardinal Oliviero Carafa (1430-1511), an Italian cleric and diplomat, set the fragment up at the corner of his palace (the Palazzo Orsini, now the Palazzo Braschi), near the Piazza Navona, and began or encouraged the yearly custom to “restore” the fragment on the feast of St. Mark (April 25th) and clothe it in the costume of a mythological or historical character. University professors and their students paid “homage” to the statue by posting Latin verses (pasquinate) on the fragment. Over time these verses became anonymous satires written in Romanesco (the Italian dialect of Rome). Pasquinade entered English in the 17th century.

    How is pasquinade used?

    When Michaelis's testimony at the inquest brought to light Wilson's suspicions of his wife I thought the whole tale would shortly be served up in racy pasquinade ... F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925

    There are several pasquinades up now, commenting on Berlusconi’s recent visit to Washington and his subsequent defense in the Italian Parliament of Italy’s support for the war in Iraq. "Ask Pasquino," The New Yorker, June 7, 2004

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