Word of the Day

Thursday, June 03, 2021

stultify

[ stuhl-tuh-fahy ]

verb (used with object)

to render absurdly or wholly futile or ineffectual, especially by degrading or frustrating means.

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What is the origin of stultify?

Stultify comes straight from Late Latin stultificāre, “to turn into foolishness,” a compound verb formed from the adjective stultus “stupid, dense, foolish” and the combining form –ficāre “to make, make become” (source via Old French –fier of the English verb suffix –fy), formed from facere “to do, make.” Stultus and stolidus “dull, brutish, stupid” come from the root stel-, stol– “to (make) stand, put.” One odd thing about stultify is that its original meaning in English was as a legal term “to allege or prove (oneself or another) to be of unsound mind,” that is, if one stultified oneself, one could evade responsibility for one’s actions. Stultify entered English in the second half of the 18th century.

how is stultify used?

Up to recently we have proceeded from a premise that poverty is a consequence of multiple evils: lack of education restricting job opportunities; poor housing which stultified home life and suppressed initiative; fragile family relationships which distorted personality development.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

Such critics stultify themselves by the coarseness of view (and sometimes of expression) with which they meet the grossness they condemn.

"New Poetry of the Rosettis and Others", The Atlantic, January 1882

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Wednesday, June 02, 2021

hebdomadal

[ heb-dom-uh-dl ]

adjective

taking place, coming together, or published once every seven days; weekly.

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What is the origin of hebdomadal?

Hebdomadal, “occurring or published every seven days; a weekly publication,” comes via the Late Latin adjective hebdomadālis “weekly,” from Greek hebdomás (inflectional stem hebdomád-) “a group of seven, a seven-day cycle, a week, a fever recurring every seven days.” Hebdomás is a derivative of the adjective hébdomos (also hébdemos) “seventh,” a complicated but regular derivative of the cardinal number heptá “seven.” Original Proto-Indo-European s is lost before a vowel in Greek, becoming h; heptá is the Greek result of Proto-Indo-European septṃ, which becomes septem in Latin, sapta in Sanskrit, secht in Old Irish, sibun in Gothic, seofon in Old English, seven in English, septynì in Lithuanian, sedm in Czech, sedem in Slovak, and siedem in Polish. Hebdomadal entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is hebdomadal used?

A little solace came at tea-time, in the shape of a double ration of bread—a whole, instead of a half, slice—with the delicious addition of a thin scrape of butter: it was the hebdomadal treat to which we all looked forward from Sabbath to Sabbath.

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847

Thirty-six years had passed since. And still he remembered the Sunday evening, the hebdomadal get-together of his parents’ circle of friends.

Rohinton Mistry, Family Matters, 2002

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Tuesday, June 01, 2021

interlard

[ in-ter-lahrd ]

verb (used with object)

to diversify by adding or interjecting something unique, striking, or contrasting.

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What is the origin of interlard?

The verb interlard, “to diversify by adding something striking or contrasting,” comes from the Middle English verb interlarden, enterlard(e) “to mix fat into,” from Old French entrelarder. The Old French verb is a compound of the preposition entre “between” and the verb larder “to cook with lard or bacon fat.” Entre, which appears in English entre nous “between ourselves, confidentially,” is a regular development from Latin inter “between,” which (unlike entre) is thoroughly naturalized in English, as in international, interstate, intercity. The verb larder “to cook with lard or bacon fat,” comes from the Latin noun lāridum, lardum “bacon, salted meat.” The Greek adjective larinós “fattened, fat” is related to lāridum, lardum; Greek also borrowed lardum as lárdos “salted meat.” Interlard entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is interlard used?

More than by the tone was Andre-Louise startled by the obscenities with which the Colossus did not hesitate to interlard his first speech to a total stranger. He laughed outright. There was nothing else to do.

Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche, 1921

The modern Old Farmer’s Almanac, though it contains a lot of hooey interlarded with its tables of sun declination and length of day, is much less a remnant of our degraded information ecosystem than a harbinger of it.

Scott Huler, "What does the pseudoscience of the Old Farmer's Almanac say about today's climate?" Washington Post, December 28, 2017

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