Word of the Day

Thursday, May 07, 2020

proxemics

[ prok-see-miks ]

noun

(used with a singular verb)

the study of the spatial requirements of humans and animals and the effects of population density on behavior, communication, and social interaction.

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What is the origin of proxemics?

It is hard to find a more apposite word right now than proxemics “the study of the spatial requirements for humans and the effects of population density on behavior and social interaction.” Proxemics is made up of prox(imity) and –emics, which is extracted from (phon)emics “the study of the system of sounds of a language,” or is formed on the pattern of a word like phonemics. Proxemics was coined in 1973 by the U.S anthropologist Edward Hall.

how is proxemics used?

We’re likely to see a recalibration of the bubble of personal space we keep around ourselves—a field scientists call proxemics.

Amit Katwala, "Coronavirus could kill handshakes," Wired, March 6, 2020

Proxemics, however, is not merely about interactions between individuals. On a larger scale, it helps developers, urban planners and executives in various industries understand how people move through public spaces, how they shop, even what type of restaurants they find most comfortable.

, "In Certain Circles, Two Is a Crowd," New York Times, November 16, 2006

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Wednesday, May 06, 2020

solace

[ sol-is ]

noun

something that gives comfort, consolation, or relief.

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What is the origin of solace?

Solace, both noun and verb, comes from Old French noun solas, solaz and the Old French verb solacier, solasier from the Latin noun sōlācium (also spelled sōlātium) “relief in sorrow or misfortune, comfort,” a derivative of the verb sōlārī “to give comfort, console.” One of the meanings of sōlācium is “compensation, indemnification,” found in the writings of the Imperial Roman jurist Ulpian. This legal sense of sōlātium (spelled solatium) has existed in English since the 19th century. The noun and verb solace entered English around the same time, in the late 13th century.

how is solace used?

Here it shows the attributes that have enabled medicine as a science steadily to push the frontier of knowledge farther into the area once marked unknown, and have kept medicine as an art of human relations a constant solace to men in pain, fear, and sorrow.

Bernard DeVoto, "Doctors Along the Boardwalk," Harper's Magazine, Vol. 195, 1947

The only solace of the day was to make food—the basic things, soups, simple pastas and bread.

Chang-Rae Lee, "Eat, Memory," New York Times, October 10, 2004

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Tuesday, May 05, 2020

peregrinate

[ per-i-gruh-neyt ]

verb (used without object)

to travel or journey, especially to walk on foot.

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What is the origin of peregrinate?

The verb peregrinate, “to go on a journey on foot,” comes from Latin peregrīnātus, the past participle of peregrīnārī “to travel abroad,” a derivative of the adjective and noun peregrīnus “alien, foreign; an alien, a foreigner,” formed from the adverb peregrī “away from home, abroad.” In Roman republican and imperial law, a peregrīnus was a free person or a free community that did not have Roman citizenship (the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Empire). Late Latin peregrīnus became pelegrīnus by a common dissimilation (compare the spelling colonel with its pronunciation). Pelegrīnus has its own history, becoming the source of pilgrim. Peregrinate entered English in the late 16th century.

how is peregrinate used?

Regardless of how they get there, they seem to peregrinate in a fog, for which they can hardly be blamed …

Yelena Akhtiorskaya,

I had peregrinated further to the little hamlet of Bürglen, and peeped into the frescoed chapel which commemorates the hero’s natal scene.

Henry James, “At Isella,” The Galaxy, August 1871

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