Word of the Day

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

riant

[ rahy-uhnt, ree- ]

adjective

laughing; smiling; cheerful.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of riant?

The rare adjective riant is a direct borrowing from the French present participle riant “laughing,” from the verb rire, ultimately from Latin rīdēre “to laugh,” which comes from a very complicated Proto-Indo-European root wer- “to twist, bend” (rīdēre would mean “twist the face or mouth”). Wer- has many suffixes and extensions that form some startling words. The meaning of the root extended with the suffix -t is clearly seen in Latin vertere “to turn,” with its many English derivatives, e.g., revert, convert, invert. The Germanic form of wert- is werth-, source of the English suffix -ward(s), as in homeward(s), toward(s). A variant form of wer- with the suffix -m forms Latin vermis “worm” (from its twisting) and Germanic wurmiz (Old English wyrm “dragon, serpent”; English worm). Finally, somewhat related to rīdēre is the Latin noun rictus “wide open mouth, gaping jaws” (English rictus). Riant entered English in the 16th century.

how is riant used?

Mistress Marjory bent her head with a murmured assurance of “giving him small trouble,” but again the riant eyes belied the lips …

Sara Beaumont Kennedy, "Sweet Marjory," Outing, Volume XXVII, January 1896

At the head of that open and legal agitation, was a man of giant proportions in body and mind; … a humor broad, bacchant, riant, genial and jovial …

John Mitchel, Jail Journal; or, Five Years in British Prisons, 1854
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, August 13, 2018

laeotropic

[ lee-uh-trop-ik, -troh-pik ]

adjective

oriented or coiled in a leftward direction, as a left-spiraling snail shell.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of laeotropic?

The adjective laeotropic “turning leftward” is restricted to describing snail shells. The second element, -tropic “turning (to),” is common enough in the physical sciences, e.g., geography, meteorology, chemistry. The first element laeo- is rare. It comes from the Greek adjective laiós “left, on the left” (there is one ancient lexicographical reference implying the form laiwós). Laiwós is all but identical to Latin laevus and pretty close to Slavic (Polish) lewy. Outside these three branches of the Indo-European languages (and possibly also Lithuanian, among the Baltic languages), laiwo- does not occur. Laeotropic entered English in the 19th century.

how is laeotropic used?

The arms of the cross are slightly oblique; and it is worthy of note that the direction of their inclination is laeotropic, while in Crepidula and Ischnochiton the arms show a slight dexiotropic twist.

Samuel J. Holmes, "The Early Development of Planorbis," Journal of Morphology, Volume XVI, February 1900

… the direction of corresponding cleavages is the same, i.e., the second cleavage is laeotropic and the third dexiotropic, and so on …. Why should this constancy occur?

C. M. Child, "The Significance of the Spiral type of Cleavage and Its Relation to the Process of Differentiation," Biological Lectures from the Marine Biological Laboratory of Woods Holl, 1899
Sunday, August 12, 2018

Perseid

[ pur-see-id ]

noun

Astronomy. any of a shower of meteors appearing in August and radiating from a point in the constellation Perseus.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of Perseid?

Perseid may have been introduced into English from Italian Perseidi, coined by the distinguished Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli (1835-1910), who is unfortunately best remembered today for the mistranslation into English of Italian canali “channels” on Mars as “canals,” which has inspired decades and decades of science fiction. Perseid ultimately comes from Greek Perseídēs “offspring or daughters of Perseus,” because the meteors appear to be coming from the constellation Perseus. Perseid entered English in the 19th century.

how is Perseid used?

Comet Swift-Tuttle is the largest object known to repeatedly pass by Earth; its nucleus is about 16 miles (26 kilometers) wide. It last passed nearby Earth during its orbit around the sun in 1992, and the next time will be in 2126. But it won’t be forgotten in the meantime, because Earth passes through the dust and debris it leaves behind every year, creating the annual Perseid meteor shower.

Sarah Lewin, "Perseid Meteor Shower 2018: When, Where & How to See It," Space.com, July 9, 2018

The Perseids also feature “fireballs,” which are meteors of bright color and longer streaks that sometimes have “magnitudes greater than -3.”

Aimée Lutkin, "How to Watch the Perseids Meteor Showers This Season," Lifehacker, July 9, 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.