Word of the Day

Friday, January 31, 2020

sagacious

[ suh-gey-shuhs ]

adjective

having or showing acute mental discernment and keen practical sense; shrewd: Socrates, that sagacious Greek philosopher, believed that the easiest way to learn was by asking questions.

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What is the origin of sagacious?

Sagacious derives straightforwardly from the Latin adjective sagāx (stem sagāc-) “having keen (mental) perception or senses (especially of smell)” and is a derivative of the verb sagīre “to perceive keenly.” The Latin forms come from a Proto-Indo-European root sāg-, “to trace, track down, investigate,” from which Greek derives hēgeîsthai (dialect hāgeîsthai) “to go before, guide,” and English derives “seek.” Sagacious entered English in the early 17th century.

how is sagacious used?

This also preserves the long-standing archetype of the infallible, unflappable and sagacious physician.

Jalal Baig, "Why crying over a terminal patient made me a better doctor," Washington Post, February 24, 2019

It was the service of a trained and sagacious mind, a cool and sure judgment.

"Mr. Root as Secretary of War," New York Times, July 23, 1899
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Thursday, January 30, 2020

mizzle

[ miz-uhl ]

verb (used with or without object)

to rain in fine drops; drizzle; mist.

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What is the origin of mizzle?

The word mizzle, both noun and verb, is dialectal and regional in the U.S. The verb comes from Middle English misellen (missill) “to drizzle,” and is related to Middle Dutch misel “fog, dew” and Dutch dialect miezelen “to rain gently.” The noun sense entered English in the late 15th century.

how is mizzle used?

It had started to mizzle again as a matter of course; that sunshine had been far too fragile; now it had relapsed into a suffused presence behind the ceiling of steady grey.

Alan Hunter, Gently to the Summit, 1961

By the time I left the cathedral it was already dark, mizzling, the kind of rain that looks like mist but drenches you in minutes.

Pat Barker, "Medusa," The New Yorker, April 8, 2019
Wednesday, January 29, 2020

definiendum

[ dih-fin-ee-en-duhm ]

noun

something that is or is to be defined, especially the term at the head of a dictionary entry.

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What is the origin of definiendum?

Definiendum comes straight from Latin dēfīniendum “to be defined.” In Latin grammar, dēfīniendum is a gerundive, a kind of verbal adjective showing, among other things, obligation or necessity. Dēfīniendum derives from the verb dēfīnīre “to fix the limits of, bound, define,” a compound of the preposition and intensive prefix , – and the simple verb fīnīre “to mark out or form the boundaries of,” a derivative of the noun fīnis “boundary (of a territory).” Definiendum is a technical term used in lexicography and logic. A similar gerundive, demonstrandum “to be demonstrated,” appears in Q.E.D., an abbreviation of quod erat dēmonstrandum, “what was to be demonstrated,” used at the end of a proof in geometry. Definiendum entered English in the second half of the 19th century.

how is definiendum used?

Discussions of definition distinguish between the definiendum (the word or phrase that is to be defined) and the definiens (the word of phrase that is used to define it).

Patrick Hanks, "Definition," The Oxford Handbook of Lexicography, 2016

Don’t make the definiens technical or subtle if the definiendum is not technical or subtle.

Andrew Woodfield, Teleology, 1976

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