Word of the Day

Sunday, May 20, 2018

sub rosa

[ suhb roh-zuh ]

adverb

confidentially; secretly; privately.

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What is the origin of sub rosa?

The English adverbial phrase sub rosa comes directly from the Latin phrase sub rosā “under the rose,” from the use of a rose suspended from the ceiling of the council chamber during meetings to symbolize the sworn confidence of the participants. This use of the rose is based on the Greek myth that Aphrodite (Latin Venus) gave a rose to her son Eros (Latin Cupid); Eros then gave the rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence and secrets, to ensure that Aphrodite’s dalliances remained hidden. Sub rosa entered English in the 17th century.

how is sub rosa used?

He was too impatient. He should’ve worked sub rosa, built a wider network of supporters; and he should not have struck openly.

Michael Flynn, In the Lion's Mouth, 2011

Besides the pleasure of a newly acquired possession, there is an agreeable feeling of having bought it sub rosa.

Daniele Varè, Maker of Heavenly Trousers, 1935
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Saturday, May 19, 2018

omnifarious

[ om-nuh-fair-ee-uhs ]

adjective

of all forms, varieties, or kinds.

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What is the origin of omnifarious?

English omnifarious comes from the Late Latin adjective omnifarius “of all sorts.” The combining form omni- in omnifarious is completely naturalized in English and needs no explanation. The element -farious comes from the Latin combining form -fārius, -farius, which is used to form multiplicative adjectives (e.g., twofold, threefold, simplex, duplex) and is a back formation from the Late Latin adjective bifārius “twofold, double,” in turn derived from the Latin adverb bifāriam “in two parts or places.” Omnifarious entered English in the 17th century.

how is omnifarious used?

… these essays in Mr. Trilling’s new book all aim directly or indirectly at the central suppositions of our omnifarious 20th-century culture.

Robie Macauley, "From the Particular to the Universal," New York Times, November 14, 1965

The point here is all these other “platforms” offer but a fraction of the omnifarious ~500 product and services that Google subsidizes to offer for free in “competition” with mostly fee-based proprietary platform products and services.

Scott Cleland, "Why Google's Not a 'Platform,'" Forbes, October 19, 2011
Friday, May 18, 2018

spagyric

[ spuh-jeer-ik ]

adjective

pertaining to or resembling alchemy; alchemic.

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What is the origin of spagyric?

The rare adjective spagyric comes from New Latin spagiricus “alchemical; alchemy; an alchemist” and was first used and probably coined by the Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus (c1493–1541). There is no trustworthy etymology for the word. Spagyric entered English in the late 16th century.

how is spagyric used?

He saw the true gold into which the beggarly matter of existence may be transmuted by spagyric art; a succession of delicious moments, all the rare flavours of life concentrated, purged of their lees, and preserved in a beautiful vessel.

Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams, 1907

I fear that many a practitioner of the spagyric art has perished handling it without due respect.

Jacqueline Carey, Miranda and Caliban, 2017

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