Word of the Day

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

rewild

[ ree-wahyld ]

verb

to return (land) to a more natural state: rewilding an unpopulated island for use as an animal preserve.

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What is the origin of rewild?

Rewild combines the word wild with the prefix re-, used to indicate withdrawal or a motion backwards toward another point. Rewild was first recorded in 1980–85.

how is rewild used?

“A big effort was made to rewild a huge swath of the Great Plains to its original flora, fauna and animal life,” Fallows says.

Gary Stoller, "Author of 'Our Towns' Best Seller Finds Ideal Vacation Spots While Seeing America Reinvent Itself," Forbes, August 21, 2018

I argue that the three r’s of the climate-catastrophe generation – reduce, reuse, recycle – need a serious upgrade. In their place I propose resist, revolt, rewild.

Mark Boyle, "My advice after a year without tech: rewild yourself," The Guardian, March 19, 2018
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Monday, October 01, 2018

nugacity

[ noo-gas-i-tee, nyoo- ]

noun

triviality; insignificance.

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What is the origin of nugacity?

Nugacity is a direct borrowing from the Late Latin noun nūgācitās (stem nūgācitāt-), which first appears in the letters of St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430 a.d.). Nūgācitās means “worthlessness, frivolity” and is a derivative of the Latin adjective nūgāx (stem nūgāc-) “bungling, incompetent,” itself a derivative of the plural noun nūgae “absurdities, nonsense, frivolities, trifles” (its further etymology is unknown). Nugacity entered English in the 16th century.

how is nugacity used?

For this play that appears to address itself to a serious intellectual problem has almost nothing to say on the subject, and proceeds to disguise its nugacity by resorting to any number of modish–or, rather, outmoded–strategies.

John Simon, "All's Well That Ends 'Good'," New York, October 25, 1982

Somehow before I leave town I should find a graceful way to assure Jason that when I first met him I had had no inkling of that particular Aggrandizement report … even if the disclaimer obliges me to reveal the nugacity of my financial wardrobe.

Jonathan Bayliss, Gloucesterbook, 1992
Sunday, September 30, 2018

interloper

[ in-ter-loh-per ]

noun

a person who interferes or meddles in the affairs of others.

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What is the origin of interloper?

Interloper originally meant “unauthorized trader who trades on his own account and violates the rights or privileges of a trade monopoly.” It also has a tricky etymology. Inter-, its first element, is obviously the Latin preposition and prefix meaning “between, among.” The problem lies mostly with the second element -loper. Some authorities say that -loper is the same as in landloper “wanderer, vagrant,” an English borrowing from Dutch landlooper dating from about 1570. English interloper dates from the end of the 16th century, but a Dutch dictionary (1767) stated that the Dutch word enterlooper, phonetically equivalent to English interloper, is a borrowing from English. It is also difficult to reconcile an English word composed of the Latin prefix with the Dutch noun looper “runner.” It is more likely that -lope (and -loper) is a Middle English dialect variant of leap, ultimately from Old Norse hlaupa “to leap, spring, climb.” Interloper entered English on the late 16th century; the sense of “meddler” dates from the mid-17th century.

how is interloper used?

Caruso is a veteran narrator who has voiced audiobooks for the works of Joan Didion, Louisa May Alcott, and Jonathan Safran Foer—but to me, in the moment, she was instead an interloper. What was she doing here? Who was she to intrude on my literary shiva?

Arielle Pardes, "Listening Isn't Reading, but Audiobooks Still Resonate," Wired, August 1, 2018

… the Lorax is an environmental activist who wastes no time in berating the axe-wielding Once-ler, a shady money-grabbing interloper who lays waste to the environment to produce peculiar knitted outfits called thneeds.

Nicola Davis, "Dr Seuss's Lorax 'inspired by orange Kenyan monkeys'," Guardian, July 23, 2018

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