Word of the Day

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

scry

[ skrahy ]

verb

to use divination to discover hidden knowledge or future events, especially by means of a crystal ball.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of scry?

Aphesis is the loss of an unstressed vowel or syllable from the beginning of a word, as descry becoming scry. The adjective formed from aphesis is aphetic. Descry means “to see something unclear or distant by looking carefully”; scry has a narrower meaning, “to use divination to learn hidden events or the future, especially by gazing into a crystal ball or water.” Scry was obsolete by the 16th century, but it was revived in the 19th century by Andrew Lang (1844–1912), the Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, anthropologist, and collector of folk and fairy tales.

how is scry used?

Merlin could scry in any clear or shiny surface. Even now he had a basin of water ready at this elbow for watching his boy king.

Phyllis Ann Karr, "Merlin's Dark Mirror," The Merlin Chronicles, 1995

And my lord had a great mirror where he wanted me to scry–to see the future.

Philippa Gregory, The Lady of the Rivers, 2011
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, September 03, 2018

nepenthe

[ ni-pen-thee ]

noun

anything inducing a pleasurable sensation of forgetfulness, especially of sorrow or trouble.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of nepenthe?

In Greek and English nepenthe and pathos are opposites. Greek nēpenthḗs is an adjective meaning “banishing pain, without sorrow.” Nēpenthḗs breaks down to the (unusual) negative prefix nē- (ultimately from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-), the stem penth- of the noun pénthos “pain,” and the adjective suffix -ḗs, -és. The Greek nouns pénthos and páthos “sensation, suffering” are derivatives of the complicated verb páschein, all three words showing variants of the Greek root penth-, ponth-, path- “to suffer, experience.” Nepenthe entered English in the 16th century.

how is nepenthe used?

There must have been in him a remarkable capacity for forgetfulness; he might seem to have drunk every morning a nepenthe that drowned in oblivion all his yesterdays.

Walter Noble Burns, The Saga of Billy the Kid, 1925

Of course, he was feverish and in great pain, despite the draughts of nepenthe he was given …

Steven Saylor, The House of Vestals, 1992
Sunday, September 02, 2018

plage

[ plahzh ]

noun

a sandy bathing beach at a seashore resort.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of plage?

English plage keeps its French pronunciation (more or less), which shows that plage is still not naturalized. French plage is a borrowing of Italian piaggia, which comes from Late Latin plagia “shore, coast.” Latin plagia is a feminine singular noun, a direct borrowing of Greek plágia, a neuter plural noun meaning “sides (of a mountain), flanks (of an army),” from the adjective plágios “oblique, sloping, sideways.” The Latin and Italian nouns refer particularly to Magna Graecia (those areas of southern Italy and Sicily that were colonized by the Greeks from the 8th to the 4th century b.c.), where there were many seacoast resort towns (with beaches). Plage entered English in the 19th century.

how is plage used?

The place and the people were all a picture together, a picture that, when they went down to the wide sands, shimmered in a thousand tints, with the pretty organisation of the plage, with the gaiety of spectators and bathers, with that of the language and the weather, and above all with that of our young lady’s unprecedented situation.

Henry James, What Maisie Knew, 1897

Sore and breathless, I sat down on one of the benches along the plage.

Janice Law, The Prisoner of the Riviera, 2013

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.