Word of the Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

taradiddle

[ tar-uh-did-l ]

noun

Informal.

a small lie; fib.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of taradiddle?

Taradiddle (also tarradiddle), a slang term meaning “a small lie, a fib” has no clear etymology. The second element may be the verb diddle “to move back and forth or up and down quickly”; the first element tara– (or tarra-) has no explanation at all. Taradiddle (tarradiddle) entered English at the end of the 18th century.

how is taradiddle used?

“What are you?” “An engraver.” (This taradiddle I invented to account for the look of my hands.)

James Greenwood, "A Night in a Workhouse," Pall Mall Gazette, 1866

“A taradiddle is by definition a petty lie, a little falsehood or trifling told often to amuse or embellish a story,” he said. “As our world is full of them, seen and witnessed through advertising, P.R., propaganda, flirtations, staged events and presentations of all sorts, I simply came to the conclusion that even the straightest of photographs made in real-world witness was also such.”

Charles Traub, quoted in "Random Moments, Petty Lies and Quiet Pleasures," by Rena Silverman, New York Times, November 8, 2018

Listen to the word of the day

taradiddle

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.
Monday, April 20, 2020

ambages

[ am-bey-jeez ]

noun

Archaic. (used with a plural verb)

winding, roundabout paths or ways.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of ambages?

The English noun ambages is usually used in the plural, just like its Latin original, ambāgēs. Both English and Latin nouns share the same meanings: “winding, roundabout paths; prolix, ambiguous, or equivocating language.” The Latin noun is a compound of the prefix ambhi– “around, about, both” (as in ambidextrous “able to use both hands equally well”), and a derivative noun of the hard-working verb agere “to lead, drive, act, do.” Ambages entered English in the early 15th century.

how is ambages used?

A city of monstrous size to which London was but a market town. Its ambages of streets bewildered.

Anthony Burgess, A Dead Man in Deptford, 2003

few readers, we apprehend, will have the resolution to keep him company to the end of his book, or to follow him through the ambages of his descriptions, without occasional symptoms of weariness.

Charles Stuart Cochrane, "Travels in Colombia," North American Review, 1825

Listen to the word of the day

ambages

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Sunday, April 19, 2020

kitsch

[ kich ]

noun

something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of kitsch?

One person’s art is another person’s kitsch. Kitsch is a German noun meaning “trash, rubbish; slapdash, pretentious, sentimental, or tacky work of art.” Kitsch is a derivative of the verb kitschen “to throw together (a work of art),” from German kitschen “to sweep up or scrape up mud from the street,” or from German dialect kitschen “to sell cheaply.” Kitsch entered English in the first half of the 20th century.

how is kitsch used?

When the art critics call me “cornball” and my work “kitsch,” which I’m told is a derogatory term for popular art, I begin to worry. But I always pick up my brushes and go back to work. For better or for worse, I’ll never be a fine arts painter or a modern artist. I’m an illustrator, which is very different. 

Norman Rockwell, My Adventures as an Illustrator, 1960

Allee Willis … lives in a light-pink house north of Hollywood with a bowling-ball garden and a heaving collection of kitsch.

Matthew Schneier, "A Queen of Kitsch Who Made the Whole World Sing," New York Times, June 7, 2018

Listen to the word of the day

kitsch

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.