Word of the Day

Friday, December 07, 2018

scrooch

[ skrooch ]

verb

Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. to crouch, squeeze, or huddle (usually followed by down, in, or up).

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What is the origin of scrooch?

Scrooch “to crouch, squeeze, huddle” was originally a U.S. colloquial and dialect word. It is probably a variant of scrouge “to squeeze, crowd,” itself a blend of the obsolete verb scruze “to squeeze” and gouge. To make things even more unclear, scruze itself is a blend of screw and bruise. Scrooch entered English in the 19th century.

how is scrooch used?

When you want to get up again, you sort of scrooch forward and the chair comes up straight so you don’t have to dislocate your sciatica trying to get out of the pesky thing.

Charlotte MacLeod, Something the Cat Dragged In, 1984

Myr Korso, please tell him to scrooch down if he has to be there.

James Tiptree, Jr., Brightness Falls from the Air, 1985
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Thursday, December 06, 2018

athenaeum

[ ath-uh-nee-uhm, -ney- ]

noun

a library or reading room.

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What is the origin of athenaeum?

Athenaeum ultimately derives from Greek Athḗnaion, the name of the temple of Athena in ancient Athens where poets read their works. It entered English in the 1720s.

how is athenaeum used?

The back of his state-issued S.U.V. is stacked with notebooks filled with ideas and data culled from books and articles and conversations with nearly four hundred experts; it’s a kind of rolling athenaeum.

Tad Friend, "Gavin Newsom, the Next Head of the California Resistance," The New Yorker, November 5, 2018

At the top of the main staircase, with patterned risers and leather-covered treads, a bedroom was turned into the Athenaeum, or classical library.

Julie Lasky, "A Victorian Wonderland in Park Slope," New York Times, March 16, 2018
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

postiche

[ paw-steesh, po- ]

noun

a false hairpiece.

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What is the origin of postiche?

Postiche, like many cultural terms derived from the Romance languages, has a complicated etymology, what with the borrowing and lending of forms and meanings between Latin, Late Latin, Medieval Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The English word postiche, from French postiche, has two original meanings: as an adjective, it is a term used in architecture and sculpture and means “added on, especially inappropriately; artificial, counterfeit”; as a noun, it means “a hairpiece made of false hair.” The French word may come from Spanish postizo “artificial, substitute,” or from Italian posticcio with the same meanings. The Spanish and Italian forms most likely derive from Late Latin apposticius “placed beside or on” (and equivalent to Latin appositus “adjacent, near at hand, suitable”).

how is postiche used?

… the Goulet postiche is guaranteed to blend imperceptibly with the wearer’s own hair, for I refuse to settle for anything less than a perfect match.

Catherine Chidgey, The Transformation, 2003

… when the hair had been thoroughly dyed it could only recover its natural colour by this slow process, but that usually the effect was concealed by a postiche

Laurence Oliphant, Piccadilly, 1870

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