Start each day with the Word of the Day in your inbox!

Word of the Day

Word of the day


[ pahn-sey ] [ pɑ̃ˈseɪ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a reflection or thought.

learn about the english language

More about pensée

Pensée, “a thought,” is a loanword from French, in which it is the past participle of the verb penser “to think.” Penser derives from Latin pēnsāre, of the same meaning, which in turn comes from pendere “to hang”—similar to the English expression “have hanging over (one’s) head,” namely, when a persistent thought causes fear and anxiety. Pendere has two stems in English: the first is pend-, as in pendulum, suspend, and the recent Word of the Day spendthrift, and the second stem is pens-, as in compensate, expensive, and pension. Pensée was first recorded in English in the late 1880s.

how is pensée used?

The phone rings incessantly, and James, never losing his aplomb, dashes to answer it between lifting lids and turning, in his faded blue dress shirt and undersized, black owl glasses, to share a morsel of gossip or a pensée about his latest book, a collection of photographs titled, simply, Paris.

Sandra Martin, “Depth of field," The Globe and Mail, May 22, 2002

“Life is a hospital where each patient is driven by the desire to change beds.” Such a pensée fits with the French moralist tradition of Montaigne, Pascal and La Rochefoucauld, yet Baudelaire always regarded Edgar Allan Poe, whom he translated, as his spiritual brother.

Michael Dirda, “Finding wisdom in Charles Baudelaire’s mad scribblings,” The Washington Post, May 11, 2022
quiz icon
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
arrows pointing up and down
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ os-kyuh-leyt ] [ ˈɒs kyəˌleɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to kiss.

learn about the english language

More about osculate

Osculate,  “to kiss,” comes from the Latin verb ōsculārī “to kiss,” which is based on the noun ōsculum “kiss” or, literally, “little mouth.” Ōsculum comprises ōs (stem ōr-) “mouth” and -culum, a diminutive suffix that we learned about last week from the Word of the Day canicular. Ōs is the source of oral and orifice but not of any word for “mouth” in modern Romance languages; the likely reason for this is confusion between ōs and the similar-sounding os (stem oss-) “bone,” which is the source of Italian/Portuguese osso and Spanish hueso. With os winning this phonetic battle, Latin bucca “cheek” eventually evolved into modern Romance words for “mouth,” such as French bouche, Italian bocca, and Portuguese and Spanish boca. Osculate was first recorded in English in the 1650s.

how is osculate used?

For those cultures that do osculate, however, kissing conveys additional hidden messages.

Chip Walter, “Affairs of the Lips,” Scientific American, October 1, 2012

Few things are more enjoyable than a good kiss, but I’d turn down any offer to osculate.

R.L.G., “Osculate me, Kate,” The Economist, July 16, 2010
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ ter-ey-kwee-uhs, -ak-wee- ] [ tɛrˈeɪ kwi əs, -ˈæk wi- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


consisting of land and water, as the earth.

learn about the english language

More about terraqueous

Terraqueous “consisting of land and water” is a compound of Latin terra “land” and English aqueous “watery,” which is based on Latin aqua “water.” As we learned from the recent Words of the Day terrene and torrid, terra once referred specifically to dry land, and the term ultimately won out over tellūs (compare the recent Word of the Day telluric) in evolving into the words for “land” in modern Romance languages, such as French terre, Romanian țară, and Spanish tierra. In contrast, aqua did not have to compete with any synonyms in Latin, and it gave rise to French eau, Italian acqua, Romanian apă, and Spanish agua. Terraqueous was first recorded in English in the 1650s.

how is terraqueous used?

We were bounded only by the Earth, and the ocean, and the sky. The open road still softly calls. Our little terraqueous globe is the madhouse of those hundred thousand millions of worlds. We, who cannot even put our own planetary home in order, riven with rivalries and hatreds; are we to venture out into space?

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1994

In his fantastical narrative The Man in the Moon (1638), the author and divine Francis Godwin has his hero fly to the moon in a machine harnessed to a flock of wild swans. As he ascends into space, the world’s landmasses diminish, not just in size but in significance .… Godwin grasped that from space Earth would look terraqueous, and far more aqua than terra.

Joe Moran, “Earthrise: the story behind our planet's most famous photo,” The Guardian, December 22, 2018
Word of the Day Calendar
Word of the Day Calendar