Word of the Day

Friday, July 27, 2018

punnet

[ puhn-it ]

noun

British, Australian. a small container or basket for strawberries or other fruit.

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What is the origin of punnet?

In the “Cyclops” episode (chapter 12) of Ulysses, there are 33 parodies in exaggerated, sentimental, or pompous styles. The first of these parodies begins “In Inisfail the fair,” a parody of a poem by the Irish poet James Mangin (1803-49), and contains, among other things, an extravagant list of Irish products: “… pearls of the earth, and punnets of mushrooms and custard marrows….” A punnet is a light, shallow container for fruits or other produce. The word is used in Ireland, England, and Australia but not in America. Its origin is uncertain. Punnet entered English in the 19th century.

how is punnet used?

Next time you buy strawberries take a look a good look in the punnet. Do the berries still have the stem attached or has it been plucked off leaving only the green hat of leaves called the calyx?

Lucy Hooker, "The strawberry-picking robots doing a job humans won't," BBC, May 25, 2018

We’ve each got a cardboard tray with twenty-five punnets in, and our job’s to fill each punnet with ripe strawberries, or nearly ripe.

David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks, 2014
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Thursday, July 26, 2018

isopolity

[ ahy-suh-pol-i-tee ]

noun

equal rights of citizenship, as in different communities; mutual political rights.

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What is the origin of isopolity?

The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 b.c.) was the first author to use isopolīteía “equality of civic rights.” Isopolīteía applied to individuals and communities; it also meant reciprocity of such rights between states (as by treaty). Polīteía “citizenship, daily life of a citizen, body of citizens; government, polity, constitution” is a derivative of the noun pólis “citadel (of a city), city, one’s city or country.” Pólis comes the very complicated Proto-Indo-European root pel-, pelǝ-, plē- “citadel, fortified elevation, city.” The same root yields the Sanskrit noun pū́r “citadel, city” (Singapur “Singapore” means “Lion City”), and Lithuanian pilìs “citadel, castle.” Isopolity entered English in the 19th century.

how is isopolity used?

Isopolity agreements offered states and their citizens a way to share most fully in each other’s judicial systems, political processes, religious and cultural life, without giving up their prized mutual autonomy.

Richard Billows, "International Relations," The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare, Volume I, 2007

In the nineteenth century, the British lawyer and legal theorist A. V. Dicey proposed the creation of a common citizenship, or “isopolity,” between the United States and the United Kingdom.

Linda Kinstler, "A New Way for the Wealthy to Shop for Citizenships," The New Yorker, June 11, 2016
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

blinkered

[ bling-kerd ]

adjective

narrow-minded and subjective; unwilling to understand another viewpoint.

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What is the origin of blinkered?

The meanings of blinkered “(of a horse) fitted with blinkers to restrict vision” and “(of a person) having a narrow, limited outlook” are all but simultaneous, dating from the end of the 19th century.

how is blinkered used?

These anti-fans see, in new casts and storylines, the agendas of blinkered Social Justice Warriors more interested in diversity quotas and Signaling Virtue than making good movies.

Adam Rogers, "Star Wars and the Battle of the Ever-More-Toxic Fan Culture," Wired, June 6, 2018

I felt my temperature rise at the thought of LaFramboise’s blinkered arrogance.

R. J. Harlick, Death's Golden Whisper, 2004
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

epigone

[ ep-i-gohn ]

noun

an undistinguished imitator, follower, or successor of an important writer, painter, etc.

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What is the origin of epigone?

The English noun epigone ultimately comes from the Greek plural noun epígonoi “offspring, posterity,” literally “(ones) born after or later,” a noun use of the adjective epígonos “born besides.” The original, primary use of epígonoi was for the sons of the seven heroes who fought against “Seven-Gated” Thebes, traditionally a generation before the Trojan War. The secondary use of epígonoi was for the heirs of the diádochoi “successors,” i.e., Alexander the Great’s (356-323 b.c.) generals (e.g., Ptolemy, Seleucus) who divided Alexander’s conquests among themselves. The diádochoi were very competent and their offspring far inferior, which is the modern meaning of epigone. Epigone entered English in the 19th century.

how is epigone used?

… is there anything lower than stealing from an epigone?

John Simon, "Goo on an Island," New York, November 5, 1990

The palace was partly designed by a famous architect of the time, López i Porta, one of Gaudi’s epigones, and partly by Benvingut himself, which explains the labyrinthine, chaotic, indecisive layout of every storey in the building.

Roberto Bolaño, The Skating Rink, translated by Chris Andrews, 2009
Monday, July 23, 2018

leonine

[ lee-uh-nahyn ]

adjective

resembling or suggestive of a lion.

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What is the origin of leonine?

The English adjective leonine comes from Latin leōnīnus, a derivative of the noun leō (inflectional stem leōn-), a borrowing from Greek léōn (inflectional stem léont-). Léōn is not a Greek word, but it does look somewhat like Hebrew lābhī; both the Greek and the Hebrew nouns may be borrowings from a third language. The Greek historian Herodotus (484?-425? b.c.) and the philosopher Aristotle (384-322 b.c.) both assert that lions were rare in Europe in their day but were still found. Leonine entered English in the 14th century.

how is leonine used?

Only a few discerned the inexorable firmness in the depth of his soul, and the magnanimous and leonine qualities of his nature.

Plutarch (c46–c120), "Fabius Maximus," Plutarch's Lives, Volume III, translated by Bernadotte Perrin, 1916

George Clooney was at home in Los Angeles one afternoon in mid-January, a few days before he flew to Sudan in his new role as a United Nations “Messenger of Peace” (an appointment that overlooked reports of a recent public scuffle with Fabio, the leonine model).

Ian Parker, "Somebody Has to Be in Control," The New Yorker, April 14, 2008
Sunday, July 22, 2018

vogie

[ voh-gee, vog-ee ]

adjective

Scot. conceited; proud.

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What is the origin of vogie?

The adjective vogie is Scottish through and through, and all the citations of the word come from Scottish authors. Vogie has no good etymology: it is tempting to etymologize the word as vogue plus the suffix -ie, but the meanings of vogue and vogie do not match. Vogie entered English in the 18th century.

how is vogie used?

… a most comical character, so vogie of his honours and dignities in the town council that he could not get the knight told often enough what a load aboon the burden he had in keeping a’ things douce and in right regulation amang the bailies.

John Galt, Ringan Gilhaize; or, The Covenanters, 1823

My only beast, I had nae mae, / And vow but I was vogie!

Robert Burns, "My Hoggie," 1788
Saturday, July 21, 2018

carte blanche

[ kahrt blanch, blahnch ]

noun

unconditional authority; full discretionary power: She was given carte blanche to decorate her room as she wished, perhaps an unwise decision on the part of her parents.

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What is the origin of carte blanche?

In the early 18th century carte blanche, literally “blank paper,” was a paper officially signed and given to another party to write in his or her own conditions or terms. By 1766 carte blanche acquired the meaning “full discretionary power, unconditional authority,” its current meaning. By the 19th century carte blanche in some card games, e.g., piquet, also meant “a hand of cards having no face cards, especially in piquet.”

how is carte blanche used?

If you think this … grants you carte blanche to stroll willy-nilly through that building asking any question that pops into your head, regardless of its bearing on the matter you are investigating, you are sadly mistaken.

Stephen Coonts, America, 2001

… what it said should not be interpreted as giving other businesses carte blanche to do what Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, did.

German Lopez, "Why you shouldn't freak out about the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling," Vox, June 4, 2018

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