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[ sel-kooth ] [ ˈsɛlˌkuθ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


strange; uncommon.

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More about selcouth

Selcouth, “strange, uncommon,” comes from Old English seldcūth, which is equivalent to seldan, “seldom,” and cūth, “couth, known, acquainted with.” Seldan has a number of relatives in other Germanic languages, including Dutch zelden, German selten, and Norwegian sjelden, but no known cognates outside the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Cūth was the original past participle of can (Old English cunnan) before it evolved into Middle English coud, gained an l by analogy with should and would, and became could. Selcouth, as a word of Old English origin, was first recorded in English before 900 CE.

how is selcouth used?

From among them one could gather out a whole menagerie of the ‘selcouth‘ beasts and birds and creeping things that have been banished from solid earth into the limbo of Faëry and Romance.

John Geddie, The Balladists, 1896

“But during his convalescence he had a selcouth experience.”
Selcouth? What does that mean?” I said.
“It’s an archaic English word meaning unusual or strange, my unlearned colleague.”

Jonathan Swift Somers III (Philip José Farmer), “The Doge Whose Barque Was Worse Than His Bight,” 1976
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[ taw-pee ] [ ˈtɔ pi ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a foolish or thoughtless young person.

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More about tawpie

Tawpie, “a foolish young person,” comprises tawp-, an element of Scandinavian origin, and -ie, a diminutive suffix also found in dearie and sweetie. Tawp- is likely related to Danish tåbe, Norwegian tåpe, and Swedish tåp, all meaning “simpleton, fool,” from Old Norse. Because of the Vikings’ colonization of Scotland a millennium ago, numerous words of Norse origin became entrenched in the languages and dialects of Scotland. One such borrowing is kilt, which may be related to Norwegian kilte, “to bind, fasten up.” Tawpie was first recorded in English in the 1720s.

how is tawpie used?

I’m sure ye have sense as well as good looks. Ye’re not so young as thae light-headed tawpies, with their empty laughs, that have gone out just now, but you’re just in your prime.

Robert Cleland, True to a Type, Vol. I, 1887

Then what for wud ye send us away, and bring in some handless, useless tawpie that cud neither cook ye a decent meal nor keep the Manse wise like?

Ian Maclaren, “Dr. Davidson’s Last Christmas,” Afterwards and Other Stories, 1898
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⚛️ Today's Word was chosen in partnership with the Museum of Science as the Science Word Of The Week! ⚛️

white hole

[ wahyt hohl ] [ waɪt hoʊl ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a theoretical celestial object into which matter is funneled from a black hole.

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Why the Museum of Science chose white hole

Most people have heard of black holes, but white holes are theorized to be their lesser-known opposite. Watch the video below to hear more about white holes from award-winning science communicator Maynard Okereke, better known as the Hip Hop M.D.

More about white hole

White hole is named by analogy after black hole. White is related to German weiß and Swedish vit, while the words for “white” in many Romance languages (including French blanc, Italian bianco, Portuguese branco, and Spanish blanco) are related to English blank. Russian astrophysicist Igor Novikov first presented his theory about white holes in the mid-1960s.


While black holes are known for swallowing all energy and matter nearby, white holes are essentially their Bizarro World counterparts and do the opposite.


White holes are theorized to be the exit point of a wormhole—matter would enter a black hole at one point in the universe, move through a tunnel, and exit at a completely different point in the universe through a white hole. Learn more fun facts at the Museum of Science.

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