Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

pother

[ poth-er ]

noun

a heated discussion, debate, or argument; fuss; to-do.

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What is the origin of pother?

All the authorities agree that pother “commotion, uproar; heated argument” has no reliable etymology; indeed, even the words that pother may be related to, like bother, have no trustworthy etymology. (The fact that an early citation of pother is spelled bother just makes things worse.) Pother originally rhymed with other and brother; it acquired its current pronunciation by the beginning of the 19th century.

how is pother used?

Yet what a pother is there of pismires over a grain of sand. But that grain of sand is their whole world.

George William Bagby, A Week in Hepsidam; Being the First and Only True Account of the Mountains, Men, Manners and Morals Thereof, 1879

“I don’t know what’s so very extraordinary about it, or why there should be such a pother,” he began; and he knew that he was insolently ignoring abundant reasons for pother, if there had been any pother. “Yes, I’m engaged.”

William Dean Howells, April Hopes, 1888

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Word of the day

Monday, November 23, 2020

ingenious

[ in-jeen-yuhs ]

adjective

cleverly inventive or resourceful.

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What is the origin of ingenious?

Ingenious comes from late Middle English ingenious “intelligent, resourceful, quick-witted,” from Old French ingenïos, engeignos, from Latin ingeniōsus “clever, talented, gifted.” Ingeniōsus is a derivative of the noun ingenium “natural disposition, temperament, mood; natural ability, cleverness,” and the adjectival suffix –ōsus, the source via Old French and Anglo-French of the English suffix –ous. Ingenious entered English in the second half of the 15th century.

how is ingenious used?

She was an ingenious inventor who planted a seed that would blossom into some of today’s most ubiquitous technology, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, cordless phones and cell phones.

Alice George, "Thank This World War II-Era Film Star for Your Wi-Fi," Smithsonian, April 4, 2019

Yet as ingenious as this inventor was, their toy did not spark a societal revolution.

Cody Cassidy, "Who Invented the Wheel? And How Did They Do It?" Wired, May 6, 2020

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Word of the day

Sunday, November 22, 2020

regale

[ ri-geyl ]

verb (used with object)

to entertain lavishly or agreeably; delight.

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What is the origin of regale?

Regale “to entertain lavishly; delight” comes from the French verb régaler “to feast, entertain,” from the Old French noun regale, rigal(l)e, a derivative of gale “festivity, feast, lavish meal.” The prefix re– or ri– is borrowed from the verb (se) rigoler “to amuse (oneself)”; (se) rigoler in its turn is a derivative of galer “to make merry.” The French present participle of galer is galant, which in Middle English becomes galaunt, galant “merry, gay, gaily dressed,” English gallant. Regale entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is regale used?

It used to be that road-weary travelers would regale their nightly hosts with tales of rivers forded, vistas taken in, injuries sustained, and possibly even enemies vanquished.

Joe Pinsker, "What Airlines Don't Get About Delays," The Atlantic, April 23, 2015

One dinnertime, he regaled me with the story of how Lord Byron’s challenge to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley to write a ghostly tale led to the creation of Frankenstein.

Morgan Jerkins, That Will Be My Undoing, 2018 

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