Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

procellous

[ proh-sel-uhs ]

adjective

stormy, as the sea.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of procellous?

The rare English adjective procellous “turbulent, stormy (as the sea)” comes via Middle French procelleux from Latin procellōsus “stormy, squally,” a derivative of the noun procella “violent wind, gale.” Procella is related to or is a derivative of the verb procellere “to throw forward with violence,” a compound of the preposition and prefix pro, pro-, here meaning “forward, outward,” and the verb –cellere (occurring only in compounds) “to rush, drive, set in rapid motion.” Procellous entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is procellous used?

I likened myself to a sailor navigating shoals and … besought her to anoint me with her glance and so hearten me to brave the dangers of that procellous sea.

Rafael Sabatini, The Strolling Saint, 1906

A cloud of adversity so gloomy and procellous, has rarely overshadowed a military leader.

Charles Caldwell, Memoirs of the Life and Campaigns of the Hon. Nathaniel Greene, 1819

Listen to the word of the day

procellous

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
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

shenanigans

[ shuh-nan-i-guhnz ]

plural noun

mischief; prankishness.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of shenanigans?

The informal plural noun shenanigans “mischief, pranks” is more common than the singular shenanigan. Shenanigan was originally an Americanism, first appearing in print in two California newspapers, Town Talk (San Francisco) and Spirit of the Age (Sacramento), in the mid-1850s, toward the end of the California Gold Rush. The fact that shenanigan first appeared in newspapers with no explanation demonstrates that it had already been around in conversation for a while. There are at least 11 recorded spellings for the singular noun (but only one for the plural); there are at least five suggested etymologies: French, Spanish, Erse (Irish Gaelic), a Rhenish Franconian dialect of German, and East Anglian (modern Norfolk and Suffolk in the U.K.). As the lawyers say, non liquet “it isn’t clear.”

how is shenanigans used?

One of the “new” old books I recently took out was “The Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss, the 1957 classic about two siblings stuck at home and the shenanigans that they get up to.

Ruth Margalit, "Quarantine Culture Recommendations: 'The Cat in the Hat,' Ambient Electronica, and Tolstoy," The New Yorker, April 10, 2020

An odd episode, this. The first half contrasts Captain Scott’s ill-fated exploration with modern Antarctic research, while the second is essentially cameraperson shenanigans.

Ed Yong, "Every Episode of David Attenborough’s Life Series, Ranked," The Atlantic, May 6, 2016

Listen to the word of the day

shenanigans

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day

Monday, January 04, 2021

nimiety

[ ni-mahy-i-tee ]

noun,

excess; overabundance.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of nimiety?

Nimiety is a bit much, literally. It comes from the Late Latin noun nimietās (inflectional stem nimietāt-) “excess, overabundance,” a derivative of the adjective nimius “excessive, immoderate.” Nimius in its turn is a derivative of the adverb and noun nimis “too much, unduly; an excessive amount or degree.” Nimietās first appears in the Metamorphōsēs (“Transformations”) of Lucius Apuleius, who may have coined the word. Apuleius was a Roman satirist and Epicurean philosopher who was born in Madaurus in North Africa and lived in the 2nd century a.d. His Metamorphōsēs is a bawdy, picaresque novel, the only ancient Roman novel to survive intact. St. Augustine of Hippo (a.d. 354-420), also from North Africa, disliked Epicureanism (most ancients did because of its atheism) and derisively renamed Apuleius’ Metamorphōsēs the Asinus Aureus (“Golden Ass”), an alternative title that has persisted till this day. Nimiety entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is nimiety used?

But of course there were problems of upkeep, and an oppressive feeling of nimiety, or too‐muchness. I have suffered from it all my life—too many possessions, too many books, too much to eat and drink.

Kenneth Clark, The Other Half, 1977

The additions to the template may be broadly inconsequential … but the execution is unrivalled—the humorous animations, the high-contrast vistas, the nimiety of customization options. Video games have been this detailed before, but rarely to such unwaveringly joyous effect.

Simon Parkin, "The Best Video Games of 2014," The New Yorker, December 15, 2014

Listen to the word of the day

nimiety

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Word of the Day Calendar

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.
Word of the Day Calendar