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[ taw-pee ] [ ˈtɔ pi ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a foolish or thoughtless young person.

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More about tawpie

Tawpie, “a foolish young person,” comprises tawp-, an element of Scandinavian origin, and -ie, a diminutive suffix also found in dearie and sweetie. Tawp- is likely related to Danish tåbe, Norwegian tåpe, and Swedish tåp, all meaning “simpleton, fool,” from Old Norse. Because of the Vikings’ colonization of Scotland a millennium ago, numerous words of Norse origin became entrenched in the languages and dialects of Scotland. One such borrowing is kilt, which may be related to Norwegian kilte, “to bind, fasten up.” Tawpie was first recorded in English in the 1720s.

how is tawpie used?

I’m sure ye have sense as well as good looks. Ye’re not so young as thae light-headed tawpies, with their empty laughs, that have gone out just now, but you’re just in your prime.

Robert Cleland, True to a Type, Vol. I, 1887

Then what for wud ye send us away, and bring in some handless, useless tawpie that cud neither cook ye a decent meal nor keep the Manse wise like?

Ian Maclaren, “Dr. Davidson’s Last Christmas,” Afterwards and Other Stories, 1898
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⚛️ Today's Word was chosen in partnership with the Museum of Science as the Science Word Of The Week! ⚛️

white hole

[ wahyt hohl ] [ waɪt hoʊl ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a theoretical celestial object into which matter is funneled from a black hole.

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Why the Museum of Science chose white hole

Most people have heard of black holes, but white holes are theorized to be their lesser-known opposite. Watch the video below to hear more about white holes from award-winning science communicator Maynard Okereke, better known as the Hip Hop M.D.

More about white hole

White hole is named by analogy after black hole. White is related to German weiß and Swedish vit, while the words for “white” in many Romance languages (including French blanc, Italian bianco, Portuguese branco, and Spanish blanco) are related to English blank. Russian astrophysicist Igor Novikov first presented his theory about white holes in the mid-1960s.


While black holes are known for swallowing all energy and matter nearby, white holes are essentially their Bizarro World counterparts and do the opposite.


White holes are theorized to be the exit point of a wormhole—matter would enter a black hole at one point in the universe, move through a tunnel, and exit at a completely different point in the universe through a white hole. Learn more fun facts at the Museum of Science.

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[ fuh-rin-jee-uhl, -juhl, far-in-jee-uhl ] [ fəˈrɪn dʒi əl, -dʒəl, ˌfær ɪnˈdʒi əl ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


(of a speech sound) articulated with retraction of the root of the tongue and constriction of the pharynx.

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More about pharyngeal

Pharyngeal, “articulated with the tongue root and the pharynx,” ultimately comes from Ancient Greek phárynx (stem pháryng-), “throat.” Easily confused with pharyngeal is laryngeal, “articulated in the larynx,” which comes from Ancient Greek lárynx (stem láryng-), “upper windpipe.” Though the pharynx and the larynx are nearly adjacent parts of the esophagus and bear names that have rhymed since Ancient Greek was a living language, it is unclear whether they share any deeper connection. One faction of the linguistic community believes that the -ynx portion of both words suggests that they are of a pre-Greek origin (see obelize earlier this week for more), while another links phárynx to Latin frūmen, “gruel; throat.” Pharyngeal was first recorded in English in the 1820s.

how is pharyngeal used?

English does not use pharyngeal consonants, which are fairly rare in the world’s languages …. Pharyngealization is different from pharyngeal consonants: A pharyngealized consonant involves a consonant not normally produced with a tightened pharynx.

“About Enduring Voices,” National Geographic, October 7, 2010

The name [Muammar] has four letters. (Short vowels aren’t usually written in Arabic.) The first “m” is straightforward. The second is the hardest: it’s called ‘ayn in Arabic, and a “voiced pharyngeal fricative” by linguists. The best nontechnical description I’ve heard is imagine the sound hip-hoppers make when saying “a’ight’.

“What about their first names?” The Economist, February 25, 2011
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