Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, September 12, 2021

spelunk

[ spi-luhngk ]

verb (used without object)

to explore caves, especially as a hobby.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of spelunk?

Spelunk comes via Latin spēlunca from Ancient Greek spêlunx, one of several similar words for “cave” (along with spéos and spḗlaion) a term that is likely of Pre-Greek origin. While Ancient Greek is an Indo-European language and inherits its grammar and most of its vocabulary from Proto-Indo-European, Ancient Greek contains over a hundred words and names that linguists hypothesize to have once been loanwords from a pre-Greek substrate, a lost language spoken in the Aegean Sea prior to the arrival of the Greeks that influenced the development of Ancient Greek. Spelunk first entered English in the 20th century.

how is spelunk used?

Confined to a narrow metal walkway … and limited to using nonprofessional cameras, Herzog and a few scientists cheerfully spelunk through the Stone Age. While the geologists marvel at the rocks and the historians assess cave-bear footprints and abandoned skulls, Herzog’s steady stream of typically bizarre observations ensure that the claustrophobia and gloominess don’t send us to sleep.

Jeannette Catsoulis, “Werner Herzog, Plumbing Time And ‘Dreams,’” NPR, April 28, 2011

On the Travel Channel, we spelunk the caverns of Callao, explore the garish catacombs of the Great Barrier Reef, learn about the medicinal benefits of turmeric.

Jonathan Evison, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, 2012

Listen to the word of the day

spelunk

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
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.

Word of the day

Saturday, September 11, 2021

yclept

[ i-klept ]

verb

called; named.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of yclept?

The archaic English verb yclept is the past participle of the equally archaic verb clepe “to call, name.” This initial y- derives from Old English ġe-, a prefix used to mark past participles; while ge- eventually fell out of use in English, many other Germanic languages, such as Dutch and German, still use ge- and similar prefixes to mark past participles. Even though ge- and y- are no longer used in English verbs, the prefixes have lived on in secret as the a- in words such as afford, aswoon, aware, and even dialectal ascared. Yclept was first recorded in the first millennium AD.

how is yclept used?

About the sixth hour, when beasts most graze, birds best peck, and men sit down to that nourishment which is called supper. So much for the time when. Now for the ground which—which, I mean, I walked upon. It is yclept thy park.

William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost, c1590

A tenured Pat, my name’s Tom Brady; Foes have oft yclept me shady. Should my post I abdicate, New England hearts will fast deflate.

Matt Monitto, "Style Invitational Week 1376: Get thee to a funnery," Washington Post, March 19, 2020

Listen to the word of the day

yclept

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

Word of the day

Friday, September 10, 2021

exclave

[ eks-kleyv ]

noun

a portion of a country geographically separated from the main part by surrounding foreign territory.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of exclave?

Exclave “an outlying portion of a country entirely or mostly surrounded by the territory of another country” is modeled on the noun enclave, its opposite, using the Latin prefix ex- “out of, from.” Enclave comes from an older French term meaning “locked in,” from Latin clāvis “key,” which also gives rise to words such as clavicle, the collarbone, originally meaning “little key” in Latin, and conclave, a secret meeting, originally meaning “(room) with a key” in Latin. Exclave entered English in the late 1800s.

how is exclave used?

The absurdity of militarizing a peacetime border through a major European metropolis is illustrated by what happened to West Berlin’s half-dozen exclaves, small plots of land that lay just outside the city limits. Mere administrative anomalies before the partition of Berlin, these exclaves became potential international trouble spots.

Frank Jacobs, "Can A Town Divided Against Itself Stand?" New York Times, January 30, 2012

There are three other “exclaves” like Hyder along the border—two small, sparsely populated towns in the U.S., and one in Canada—which largely rely on an open border to carry out their businesses, go to school and even buy groceries. But when the border shuttered at the start of the pandemic, residents of the exclaves were left to figure out how to stay afloat with their main source of business—tourism—cut off.

Kelly Hooper, "Lost summer on repeat: Opening of U.S.-Canada border may come too late for exclaves," Politico, July 2, 2021

Listen to the word of the day

exclave

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00

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.