Word of the Day

Saturday, September 07, 2019

rarefied

[ rair-uh-fahyd ]

adjective

extremely high or elevated; lofty; exalted: the rarefied atmosphere of a scholarly symposium.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of rarefied?

The adjective rarefied “elevated, lofty, exalted,” only first appears in this sense in English in the second half of the 17th century. In origin, rarefied is the past participle of the Middle English verb rarefien “to reduce the density of, thin, soften,” first recorded at the end of the 14th century. Rarefien comes from Old French rarefier, from Medieval Latin rārēficāre, from Latin rārēfacere “to make less solid, rarefy,” a Latin technical term occurring first and only in Lucretius’s Dē Rērum Nātūrā, a long Epicurean didactic poem aimed at freeing human beings from the scourge of superstition, religion, and the fear of death.

how is rarefied used?

The country gentry of old time lived in a rarefied social air: dotted apart on their stations up the mountain they looked down with imperfect discrimination on the belts of thicker life below.

George Eliot, Middlemarch, 1872

In his 30s, breathing rarefied air, Mr. Coppola made two decisions that changed his career’s trajectory.

R. T. Watson, "Francis Ford Coppola's New Visions," Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019
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, September 06, 2019

chirography

[ kahy-rog-ruh-fee ]

noun

handwriting; penmanship.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of chirography?

Chirography, an expensive word for “handwriting, penmanship,” comes from Greek cheirogaphía “written report, testimony in writing.” The first element, cheiro-, is a combining form of the noun cheír “hand,” which has many dialect forms (chérs, chḗr, chérr-). Cheír comes from the uncommon Proto-Indo-European root ghesor-, ghesr– “hand,” the source of Hittite kessar, Armenian jeṙ-, and Tocharian tsar, all meaning “hand.” The combining form –graphy, naturalized in English, is a derivative of the verb gráphein “to write,” from a Proto-Indo-European root ghrebh-, ghrobh– “to scratch, dig, bury,” the source of English grave (burial place), grub (to dig), and groove. Chirography entered English in the 17th century.

how is chirography used?

Miss Kate S. Chittenden’s hand is bold, fearless, and masculine, and there are decided indications that her temperament resembles her chirography in these respects.

, "Character in Writing," New York Times February 22, 1891

“Three hours of hand-shaking is not calculated to improve a man’s chirography,” he [Lincoln] said later that evening.

Louis P. Masur, Lincoln's Hundred Days, 2012
Thursday, September 05, 2019

magnanimous

[ mag-nan-uh-muhs ]

adjective

generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness: to be magnanimous toward one's enemies.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of magnanimous?

Magnanimous comes from the Latin adjective magnanimus “noble in spirit, brave, generous.” Magnanimus is a loan translation of the Greek adjectives megáthymos, megalóthymos “great hearted,” and megalópsychos “generous, high-souled.” Magnanimus was used especially in translations of the Aristotelian term megalópsychos. Magnanimous entered English in the 16th century.

how is magnanimous used?

… if he would … discharge his heart of its hoarded bitterness—forgive the world, for having turned his head; and for not keeping it turned, by main force; become a little more magnanimous; and, a little less unhappy and suspicious … I do almost believe that he might do something decent, to be remembered by.

John Neal, Randolph, 1823

As a master of symbolism, Mandela supported his strategy by being magnanimous towards his former enemies.

Paul Schoemaker, "The 3 Decisions That Made Mandela a Truly Great Leader," Inc., July 28, 2013

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.