Word of the Day

Friday, March 01, 2019

tergiversate

[ tur-ji-ver-seyt ]

verb

to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of tergiversate?

Tergiversate comes from the Latin verb tergiversārī “to keep turning one’s back on a task, show reluctance.” The Latin noun tergum means “back (of a human or animal),” and the verb versārī “to keep moving about” is a derivative of vertere “to turn.” Tergiversate entered English in the 17th century.

how is tergiversate used?

The nominees will equivocate and tergiversate. They will never engage.

Stephen L. Carter, "What We Think About Supreme Court Hearings Is Wrong," Bloomberg, July 17, 2018

I can sense a growing concentricity in my manner of thinking, a desire to circle back on my own thoughts, to tergiversate, to animadvert, to extemporise.

Will Self, "Inclusion," Grey Area, 1994
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.
Thursday, February 28, 2019

petrichor

[ pe-tri-kawr, ‐trahy- ]

noun

a distinctive scent, usually described as earthy, pleasant, or sweet, produced by rainfall on very dry ground.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of petrichor?

Petrichor is an uncommon word used in mineral chemistry or geochemistry to describe the pleasant scent of rain falling on very dry ground. Petrichor is a compound of the Greek nouns pétrā “rock, stone” (as in petroleum “rock oil”) and īchṓr, the juice or liquid—not blood!—that flows in the veins of the Olympian gods. About 60 percent of ancient Greek words have no satisfactory etymology; īchṓr is one of them. Petrichor was coined by two Australian chemists, Isabel “Joy” Bear and Richard Grenfell Thomas, in 1964.

how is petrichor used?

I surfaced from the tunnel in a shack, where the air was close and smelled of petrichor.

Samantha Shannon, The Mime Order, 2015

So whether rainfall reminds you of summer soccer games, puddle-splashing with siblings or a terrifying storm, thank (or blame) the planets [sic], microbes and minerals that give petrichor such a distinctive odor.

Marissa Fessenden, "High-Speed Video Shows When The Smell of Rain Begins," Smithsonian.com, January 20, 2015
Wednesday, February 27, 2019

divertissement

[ dih-vur-tis-muhnt ]

noun

a diversion or entertainment.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of divertissement?

The English noun divertissement comes directly from the French divertissement “amusement, entertainment, diversion.” Divertisse- is the long stem of the verb divertir “to amuse, entertain”; it comes from Latin dīvertere or dēvertere “to turn away, divert, make a detour, digress”; the French suffix -ment, from the similar Latin noun suffix -mentum, denotes action or resulting state. Divertissement entered English in the 18th century.

how is divertissement used?

Featuring an uncomplicated plot and easily relatable personalities, this is a divertissement compared with the thematic heft of “Like Father, Like Son.”

Maggie Lee, "Cannes Film Review: 'After the Storm'," Variety, May 20, 2016

My place in your life is a divertissement, and when it ceases to be that it will be no good to you.

May Sarton, The Single Hound, 1938

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.