Word of the Day

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

solecism

[ sol-uh-siz-uhm, soh-luh- ]

noun

a nonstandard or ungrammatical usage, as unflammable and they was.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of solecism?

The noun solecism ultimately derives from Greek soloikismós “incorrect use of (Attic) Greek; incorrect use of language” (whether of individual words or in syntax), later “incorrect reasoning in logic,” and finally, “awkwardness.” Soloikismós is a derivative of the adjective sóloikos “speaking incorrectly, speaking broken Greek,” then “having bad manners, in bad taste, awkward.” Sóloikos traditionally derives from Sóloi, a colony on the southern shore of modern Turkey, not far from Tarsus where St. Paul was born. Sóloi, however, was not founded by the Athenians (who spoke Attic Greek) but by the Argives and Rhodians, who spoke Doric dialects. Perhaps whichever Athenian colonists were there originally wound up speaking a mixed dialect, or perhaps the Sóloikoi have been getting an undeserved bum rap for the past few millennia. Solecism entered English in the 16th century.

how is solecism used?

… Lee finds in the solecism of “less” for “fewer”—catnip for pedants, and familiar to anyone who has stood in a grocery-store express lane—the inspiration for a beautiful poem about growing old …

Dan Chiasson, "'The Undressing': Poetry of Passion Laid Bare," The New Yorker, March 19, 2018

And a single word couldn’t be a dead giveaway either, no matter how much people would like to portray the use of pled rather than pleaded as an obvious Trumpian solecism, especially when Dowd himself has been documented using pled at least once.

Ben Zimmer, "Can Forensic Linguistics Pin Down the Author of a Trump Tweet?" Atlantic, December 8, 2017
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.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

makebate

[ meyk-beyt ]

noun

Archaic. a person who causes contention or discord.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of makebate?

The rare noun makebate comes from the common English verb make and the uncommon, obsolete noun bate “strife, discord,” a derivative of the Middle English verb baten “to argue, contend; (of a bird) to beat the wings” (cf. abate), a borrowing from Old French batre “to beat.” Makebate entered English in the 16th century.

how is makebate used?

… he was no makebate or stirrer up of quarrels; he would rather be a peacemaker.

Sir Walter Scott, A Legend of Montrose, 1819

Trying to set you against me, the spiteful old make-bate, and no one knows how long she will be here …

Charlotte Mary Yonge, Under the Storm, 1887
Monday, July 09, 2018

ullage

[ uhl-ij ]

noun

the amount by which the contents fall short of filling a container, as a cask or bottle.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of ullage?

If ever there was a Scrabble word, ullage is that word. In Anglo-French the word is spelled ulliage; Old French records many spellings, e.g., ouillage, (h)eullage, œillage; Middle English has ulage, oylage. The French noun ultimately comes from ouil “eye,” also “bunghole,” from Latin oculus “eye.” The very common Romance suffix -age, prolific in English, comes from Late Latin -agium, a suffix for forming nouns, a derivation of Latin -āticum, the neuter of the adjective suffix -āticus. The suffix -āticus is an extension of -ātus, the past participle ending of first conjugation verbs. Ullage entered English in the 15th century.

how is ullage used?

“And what about the ullage?” she said. We both looked at her. … “The ullage. The part of the bottle that’s empty, under the cap.”

Ethan Canin, A Doubter's Almanac, 2016

… inspectors stroll casually from hatch to hatch, measuring ullage (the air space between the top of the oil and the top of the tank) with a long rule.

Richard F. Dempewolff, "A Super-Tanker Feeds Oil-Thirsty America," Popular Mechanics, August 1950

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.