Word of the Day

Sunday, June 17, 2018

paragon

[ par-uh-gon, -guhn ]

noun

a model or pattern of excellence or of a particular excellence: a paragon of virtue.

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What is the origin of paragon?

The English noun paragon comes from Middle French, from Old Italian paragone “touch stone,” a derivative of the verb paragonare “to test on a touchstone or whetstone.” The Italian words perhaps derive from Greek parakonân “to sharpen, whet,” formed from the prefix and preposition para-“beside, alongside” and akonân “to sharpen, whet,” a derivative of akónē “whetstone, bone.” Paragon entered English in the mid-16th century.

how is paragon used?

As that paragon of fatherhood Homer Simpson once told his brood, “Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family.”

Andy Simmons, "People Shared Their Funniest Family Stories and It Got Heartwarming Real Fast," Reader's Digest, April 2018

He has variously been considered a military icon who won a total victory; a presidential model for overcoming his own considerable flaws and a tragic weakness for scoundrels to achieve fame and glory; a literary phenomenon who crafted the most famous deathbed writing in American letters; and a celebrity who was a paragon of humility and modesty.

David W. Blight, "The Silent Type," New York Review of Books, May 24, 2018
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Saturday, June 16, 2018

stanchless

[ stawnch-lis, stahnch-, stanch- ]

adjective

incessant: a stanchless torrent of words.

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What is the origin of stanchless?

English stanchless is an awkward, uncommon word. Its meaning is obvious: “unable to be stanched.” Stanch comes from the Old French verb estanchier “to close, stop” and is probably from an unattested Vulgar Latin verb stanticāre, equivalent to Latin stant- (stem of stāns, the present participle of stāre “to stand”) and the causative suffix -icāre; stanticare means “to make stand or stop.” Stanchless entered English in the 17th century.

how is stanchless used?

The flow of his language was slow, but steady and apparently stanchless.

Aldous Huxley, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, 1939

The machine can only repeat, and if we repeated we should be machines and untrue to the stanchless creative mystery of the life within us.

H. F. Heard, "Wingless Victories," The Great Fog and Other Weird Tales, 1944
Friday, June 15, 2018

nacreous

[ ney-kree-uhs ]

adjective

resembling nacre or mother-of-pearl; lustrous; pearly.

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What is the origin of nacreous?

The English adjective nacreous is a derivative of nacre “mother-of-pearl.” Nacre comes from Middle French nacre, from Medieval Latin nacchara, nacara, nacrum. Other Romance languages have similar forms: Old Italian nacacra, nacchera, Catalan nacre, and Spanish nácar, all meaning “mother-of-pearl.” The further origin of nacre is uncertain: the most common etymology is that it comes from Arabic naqqāra “small drum,” or from Arabic naqur “hunting horn,” a derivative of the verb nakara “hollow out,” from the shape of the mollusk shell that yields mother-of-pearl. Nacreous entered English in the 19th century.

how is nacreous used?

Nacreous pearl light swam faintly about the hem of the lilac darkness; the edges of light and darkness were stitched upon the hills.

Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 1929

It should not have surprised them to find the angel in that preserved condition. The fingernails, nacreous as the inside of an oyster shell …

Danielle Trussoni, Angelology, 2010

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