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

Word of the Day

Word of the day


[ fuh-rin-jee-uhl, -juhl, far-in-jee-uhl ] [ fəˈrɪn dʒi əl, -dʒəl, ˌfær ɪnˈdʒi əl ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


(of a speech sound) articulated with retraction of the root of the tongue and constriction of the pharynx.

learn about the english language

More about pharyngeal

Pharyngeal, “articulated with the tongue root and the pharynx,” ultimately comes from Ancient Greek phárynx (stem pháryng-), “throat.” Easily confused with pharyngeal is laryngeal, “articulated in the larynx,” which comes from Ancient Greek lárynx (stem láryng-), “upper windpipe.” Though the pharynx and the larynx are nearly adjacent parts of the esophagus and bear names that have rhymed since Ancient Greek was a living language, it is unclear whether they share any deeper connection. One faction of the linguistic community believes that the -ynx portion of both words suggests that they are of a pre-Greek origin (see obelize earlier this week for more), while another links phárynx to Latin frūmen, “gruel; throat.” Pharyngeal was first recorded in English in the 1820s.

how is pharyngeal used?

English does not use pharyngeal consonants, which are fairly rare in the world’s languages …. Pharyngealization is different from pharyngeal consonants: A pharyngealized consonant involves a consonant not normally produced with a tightened pharynx.

“About Enduring Voices,” National Geographic, October 7, 2010

The name [Muammar] has four letters. (Short vowels aren’t usually written in Arabic.) The first “m” is straightforward. The second is the hardest: it’s called ‘ayn in Arabic, and a “voiced pharyngeal fricative” by linguists. The best nontechnical description I’ve heard is imagine the sound hip-hoppers make when saying “a’ight’.

“What about their first names?” The Economist, February 25, 2011
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


[ uhmp-teenth ] [ ˈʌmpˈtinθ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


of an indefinitely large number in succession.

learn about the english language

More about umpteenth

Umpteenth, “of an indefinitely large number,” is the ordinal form of the cardinal number umpteen, which itself is based on umpty, a term for an indeterminate number, and the combining form -teen, a variant of ten. Umpty originated as a slang word to refer to the dash (—) in Morse code, with the ump- part a fanciful designation and the -ty part inspired by numbers such as twenty and thirty. Because the elements -ty and -teen are both related to ten, the change from umpty to umpteen essentially swaps one “ten” for another. Umpteenth was first recorded in English in the late 1910s.

how is umpteenth used?

Maybe you’ve already finished the umpteenth binge-watch of your favorite show, or you’re just in a very different headspace than you were a few months ago.

Aisha Harris, Rafer Guzman, Kristen Meinzer, “Stuck In A Streaming Rut? We've Got You Covered,” NPR, March 24, 2021

One of gaming’s greatest heroes, Super Mario, must rescue Princess Peach for the umpteenth time in New Super Mario Bros. 2, a fresh game from the Japanese developers at Nintendo who have been creating interactive adventures for their plumber protagonist for more than a generation.

Stephen Totilo, “Back to His Old Stomping Ground,” The New York Times, August 17, 2012
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ ob-uh-lahyz ] [ ˈɒb əˌlaɪz ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to mark a word or passage with − or ÷ to point out spurious, corrupt, doubtful, or superfluous words or passages.

learn about the english language

More about obelize

Obelize, “to mark with a symbol to point out concerning text,” comes from Ancient Greek obelízein, which is equivalent to obelós plus the verb-forming suffix -izein, “-ize.” Obelós means “spit, pointed pillar,” and the latter definition might ring a bell because it is this sense that appears in English obelisk. The term obelós is, unfortunately, of uncertain origin, but despite the common association between obelisks and ancient Egypt, obelós does not appear to be of Egyptian origin. Instead, the substantial variation in the spelling of obelós across multiple dialects of Ancient Greek suggests that the word is of mysterious pre-Greek origin, similar to the recent Words of the Day bibliophile, feijoada, and porphyry. Obelize was first recorded in English circa 1610.

how is obelize used?

During the last two years, apart from much else, I have emended the Letters of St. Jerome, obelizing what was false and spurious and explaining the obscure passages with notes.

Johan Huizinga (1872–1945), Erasmus and the Age of Reformation, translated by Frederik Hopman, 1924

Editors … are prone to advertise their critical restraint by obelizing the passage—that is, by isolating it within daggers † † like some infectious case of illness, and leaving it as it stands.

Peter Green, “Introduction,” The Sixteen Satires, 1967
Word of the Day Calendar
Word of the Day Calendar