Word of the Day

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

requiescat

[ rek-wee-es-kaht, -kat ]

noun

a wish or prayer for the repose of the dead.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of requiescat?

Requiescat, as any high school Latin student can tell you, is the third person singular present subjunctive active of the Latin verb requiēscere “to rest, be at rest, rest in death” and means “May he/she/it rest.” If the kid wants to show off, they may volunteer that requiescat is an optative subjunctive, that is, a subjunctive that expresses a wish, as opposed to a hortatory subjunctive, a subjunctive that exhorts, as in requiēscāmus “Let’s take a rest,” or a jussive subjunctive, which expresses a command, as in requiescant “Let them rest!” (Requiēscant can also be an optative subjunctive, “May they rest.”) Requiescat usually appears in the phrase Requiescat In Pace (abbreviated R.I.P.) “May he/she/it rest in peace,” seen on tombstones. Requiescat entered English in the second half of the 1700s.

how is requiescat used?

In delivering its eulogy, perhaps I can beg a requiescat from its enemies as well.

Francesco De Sanctis, "The Ideal," From Kant to Croce: Modern Philosophy in Italy, 1800–1950, translated by Brian Copenhaver and Rebecca Copenhaver, 2012

That emotion. I bury it here by the sea … And a heart’s requiescat I write on that grave.

Robert Bulwer-Lytton, Lucile, 1860
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.
Monday, October 28, 2019

macabre

[ muh-kah-bruh, -kahb, -kah-ber ]

adjective

gruesome and horrifying; ghastly; horrible.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of macabre?

The history of the adjective macabre is confusing. The word is Middle French and first occurs (in French) in 1376, Je fis de Macabré la dance “I made the Dance of Death.” In late Middle English Macabrees daunce meant “Dance of Death.” French Macabré may be an alteration of Macabé “Maccabaeus”; if so, Macabré la dance may be the same as the medieval ritual or procession chorēa Machabaeōrum “dance of the Maccabees,” honoring the martyrdom of Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers (II Maccabees). Macabre entered English in the 15th century.

how is macabre used?

Their macabre task is swabbing dead animals they find by the side of the road to get hold of their microbiomes—the communities of microorganisms that inhabit these mammals.

Jamie Durrani, "Roadkill Animals Are Surprising Sources of Drug Discovery," Scientific American, January 4, 2017

Vincent (1982) combines Burton’s burgeoning visual aesthetic with his lifelong love of the macabre and interest in stop-motion animation.

Aja Romano, "Tim Burton has built his career around an iconic visual aesthetic. Here's how it evolved." Vox, April 17, 2019
Sunday, October 27, 2019

horripilation

[ haw-rip-uh-ley-shuhn, ho- ]

noun

a bristling of the hair on the skin from cold, fear, etc.; goose bumps.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of horripilation?

Horripilation “bristling of the hair on the skin from cold or fear,” is a three-dollar word for goose bumps. Horripilation comes from the Late Latin noun horripilātiō (inflectional stem horripilation-), a derivative of the verb horripilāre “to become bristly or hairy.” Horripilātiō first appears in the Vulgate, the Latin version of the Bible, prepared chiefly by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century a.d. Horripilation entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is horripilation used?

… I have often wandered round other reputedly haunted places, especially in the vicinity of mills and local stream meets and in many have experienced that same horripilation of the flesh ….

John Hillaby, "Witchcraft and all that," New Scientist, May 8, 1975

I can’t have been the only person who spent the evening in a pretty much constant state of horripilation.

Alexis Soloski, "Review: In 'All Is Calm,' Thrilling Song in the Trenches," New York Times, November 25, 2018

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.