Word of the Day

Saturday, March 06, 2021

proceleusmatic

[ pros-uh-loos-mat-ik, proh-suh- ]

adjective

inciting, animating, or inspiring.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of proceleusmatic?

Unless you like studying ancient Greek metrics, you are not likely ever to see proceleusmatic. The term entered English in the early 18th century as a noun referring to a metrical foot consisting of four short syllables (and also more reasonably called a tetrabrach, literally “four shorts”). Proceleusmatic comes via Latin proceleu(s)maticus from Greek prokeleusmatikós (also prokeleumatikós) the name of the foot, a derivative of the verb (pro)keleúein “to give orders.” One of the derivatives of keleúein, the agent noun keleustḗs, means “coxswain, one who beats time for the rowers,” referring specifically to the very quick rhythm to incite rowers of triremes (light, fast warships) charging into battle to ram enemy ships. Four shorts constantly beating would do the trick.

how is proceleusmatic used?

The strokes of the sickle were timed by the modulation of the harvest-song, in which all their voices were united. … The ancient proceleusmatic song, by which the rowers of galleys were animated, may be supposed to have been of this kind.

Samuel Johnson, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, 1775

Boss had replied that Clinton’s tenure as governor of his state had been “proceleusmatic,” whatever that meant, but he didn’t have any presidential aspirations himself…

Donald Harington, Thirteen Albatrosses, 2002

Listen to the word of the day

proceleusmatic

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Friday, March 05, 2021

grubstake

[ gruhb-steyk ]

noun

money or other assistance furnished at a time of need or of starting an enterprise.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of grubstake?

Grubstake “money or other assistance furnished at a time of need or of starting an enterprise,” was originally American mining slang that first appeared in the Far West of the U.S. (Montana) in 1863. It originally referred to provisions or gear furnished to a prospector on condition of participating in the profits of any discoveries. The grub in grubstake is British and American slang for food; stake is “something wagered in a game, or race or a monetary or commercial interest or investment in an enterprise in hope of gain.”

how is grubstake used?

In short order, the team turned the partners’ $10 million grubstake into $100 million.

William D. Cohan, "Man vs. Machine on Wall Street: How Computers Beat the Market," The Atlantic, March 29, 2011

He told Westerberg he planned on staying until April 15, just long enough to put together a grubstake. He needed a pile of new gear, he explained, because he was going to Alaska.

Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild, 1996

Listen to the word of the day

grubstake

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Thursday, March 04, 2021

confabulate

[ kuhn-fab-yuh-leyt ]

verb (used without object)

to converse informally; chat.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of confabulate?

Confabulate comes from Latin confābulātus, the past participle of confābulārī “to talk together, converse, talk about,” a compound verb formed from the prefix con– “together, with” and the simple verb fābulārī “to talk casually, chat.” Vulgar Latin changed the deponent verb fābulārī to the active verb fābulāre (a deponent verb is one that is passive in form but active in meaning). Syncope, the loss of an unaccented vowel from the middle of a word, was active at all stages of Latin, and fābulāre regularly becomes fāblāre “to speak.” In the Vulgar Latin of Spain and Portugal, on the western fringe of the Roman Empire, fāblāre becomes hablar in (Castilian) Spanish (with typical Castilian change of f– to h-), and falar in Portuguese. The central part of the empire, however, France and Italy, adopted the Christian Latin term parabolāre “to talk in parables, talk using comparisons, talk, speak,” a derivative of Latin parabola, parabolē “explanatory comparison” (from Greek parabolḗ). The noun parabola, parabolē becomes parole in French, parola in Italian, palabra in (Castilian) Spanish, and palavra in Portuguese (the Spanish and Portuguese words show the typical metathesis, or transposition of sounds, of l and r). Confabulate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is confabulate used?

Oh, Ronnie, Ronnie, might you and I confabulate for a moment in the back room? / No, Moira, I’m not falling for that one.

"Open Mic," Schitt's Creek, Season 4, Episode 6, February 27, 2018

“The Fog of War” replays telephone conversations between McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson as they confabulate miserably about a war gone wrong …

Roger Angell, "Late Review," The New Yorker, January 12, 2004

Listen to the word of the day

confabulate

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.