Word of the Day

Friday, June 05, 2020

shambolic

[ sham-bol-ik ]

adjective

Chiefly British Informal.

very disorganized; messy or confused: I’ve had a shambolic year, the worst ever.

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What is the origin of shambolic?

Shambolic, “disorganized; messy or confused,” is a colloquial adjective, used mostly by the British. The word is a combination of shambles and symbolic. Shambolic is a fairly recent coinage, entering English about 1970.

how is shambolic used?

a programme to train thousands of contact-tracers to help control the spread of coronavirus has been described as shambolic and inadequate by recruits.

Frances Perraudin, "'No one had any idea': Contact tracers lack knowledge about Covid-19 job," The Guardian, May 20, 2020

If democratic procedures start to seem shambolic, then democratic ideas will seem questionable as well.

Timothy Snyder, "How a Russian Fascist Is Meddling in America's Election," New York Times, September 20, 2016

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Thursday, June 04, 2020

caseous

[ key-see-uhs ]

adjective

of or like cheese.

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What is the origin of caseous?

The English adjective caseous derives from the Latin noun cāseus “cheese,” which in Latin comedy (Plautus), at least, is used as a term of endearment: molliculus cāseus “delicate cheese.” (Molliculus is a diminutive of the adjective mollis “soft.” Diminutives are characteristic of colloquial Latin, and therefore of comedy, and also exist in modern Romance languages, e.g., Italian orecchio “ear,” from auricula, a diminutive of auris “ear.”) The etymology of cāseus is unknown, but it may come from earlier, unrecorded kwātsos, meaning “something runny,” from the Proto-Indo-European root kwat- “to ferment; be, become, or make sour.” If that is so, cāseus may be related to Russian kvas “sour beer,” and Polish kwas “acid.” Caseous entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is caseous used?

Second, eat these little caseous balloons immediately—like topical plays, they lose value every couple of minutes.

Jonathan Reynolds, "Say Cheese Balls," New York Times, September 30, 2001

I have no doubt but that in the process of churning the whole milk there is a large amount of lactic acid formed, and a much higher temperature attained, than in the churning of cream; consequently, the separation of caseous matter must be more perfectly effected in the former than in the latter case.

Charles A. Cameron, The Stock-Feeder's Manual: The Chemistry of Food in Relation to the Breeding and Feeding of Live Stock, 1868

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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

glower

[ glou-er ]

verb (used without object)

to look or stare with sullen dislike, discontent, or anger.

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What is the origin of glower?

The verb glower, “to look or stare with sullen dislike,” comes from Middle English gloren, glouren “to shine, gleam, glow; stare, stare at fixedly.” The Middle English forms are mostly from the north (Yorkshire) and Scotland; the sense “to stare at fixedly” is Scottish. The source of gloren and glouren is obscure, but possibly Scandinavian, e.g., Icelandic glóra “to glow (like a cat’s eyes)” and Swedish and Norwegian dialect glora “to glow, stare.” The source of gloren, glouren may also be from Middle Low German glūren “to be overcast” or Dutch glueren “to leer, peep.” Glower entered English in the 15th century.

how is glower used?

Alfred glowered at us as if he never could, or would, forgive the injury of that night.

Charles Dickens, Bleak House, 1853

Angela was dismayed: was she sure she knew the way back? Of course she knew it, Cecilia said, glowering. She wasn’t an idiot.

Tessa Hadley, "Cecilia Awakened," The New Yorker, September 10, 2018

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