Start each day with the Word of the Day in your inbox!

Word of the Day

Word of the day


[ tes-uh-leyt ] [ ˈtɛs əˌleɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


to form of small squares or blocks, as floors or pavements; form or arrange in a checkered or mosaic pattern.

learn about the english language

More about tessellate

Tessellate “to form of small squares” comes from Latin tessellātus “mosaic,” based on ​​tessella “small square stone or cube.” The Latin noun tessella is a diminutive of tessera, a small piece used in mosaic work that often has four sides, which comes from Ionic Greek tésseres “four.” Ionic is one of several dialects of Ancient Greek, and the word for “four” in the well-known Attic dialect is téttares. Téttares and tésseres together are the source of tetrapod “a four-limbed animal,” the game Tetris, trapezoid, trapezium, and the recent Word of the Day tesseract. Tessellate was first recorded in English circa 1790.

how is tessellate used?

You can tile a floor with certain geometric shapes–like squares, triangles and hexagons–because they tessellate, meaning that they can be slotted together in a repeating pattern with no overlaps or gaps. You can’t do this with pentagonal or heptagonal tiles. They can’t be tessellated, so they’d leave irregular gaps on your floor.

Robert A. Jackson, “Geometrically baffling ‘quasicrystals’ found in the debris of the first-ever nuclear blast,” The Conversation, June 2, 2021

In 1975, a San Diego woman named Marjorie Rice read in her son’s Scientific American magazine that there were only eight known pentagonal shapes that could entirely tile, or tessellate, a plane. Despite having had no math beyond high school, she resolved to find another.

Manil Suri, “The Importance of Recreational Math,” The New York Times, October 12, 2015
quiz icon
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
arrows pointing up and down
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ sweyn ] [ sweɪn ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a male admirer or lover.

learn about the english language

More about swain

Swain “a male admirer” comes by way of Middle English swein “servant” from Old Norse sveinn “boy, servant.” Linguists consider the earliest sense of sveinn and its relatives in other Germanic languages to have been “one’s own (man)”; a similar shift in meaning appears with swami, from Sanskrit svāmī “master, owner,” which may have originally meant “one’s own (master).” Both swain and swami come from a root meaning “one’s, oneself” that also appears in self and sibling. Today, swain can be found in the nautical-themed compounds boatswain and coxswain (pronounced a little counterintuitively as “boh-suhn” and “kok-suhn”). Swain was first recorded in English before 1150. For more love-related terms, check out past Words of the Day inamorata, turtledove, and jo!

how is swain used?

Undeterred by the fact that her mate is under a spell that makes him a swine by day and a swain by night, Flora falls in love with him and, when he is abducted by a wicked old woman, she goes in ardent galactic pursuit of him, aided by the sun, moon and north wind.

Michael Billington, “The Enchanted Pig,” The Guardian, December 15, 2006

If this love-sick swain and innocent lass, hardening their hearts against each other, could have peeped into the secret drawer in a certain specialist’s office in Mt. Clare, they would have lost no time in apologizing for a misunderstanding for which neither was to blame.

J. McHenry Jones, Hearts of Gold, 1896
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day

chaise longue

[ sheyz lawng, cheyz ] [ ˌʃeɪz ˈlɔŋ, ˌtʃeɪz ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a chair, with or without arms, for reclining, having a seat lengthened to form a complete leg rest and sometimes an adjustable back.

learn about the english language

More about chaise longue

Chaise longue “a chair with a lengthened seat for reclining” is a loanword from French, in which it means “long chair.” A common practice among English speakers is to say “chaise lounge,” which is the result of confusing French longue “long” with English lounge “to rest lazily.” While chaise longue and lounge chair are both considered standard, “chaise lounge” is gaining in popularity. French chaise is a Paris-area dialectal variant of the original chaire (adapted into English as chair); unlike rhotacism, which changes s (or z) to r, Parisian French frequently used to change r to s. The ultimate origin of French chaise is Ancient Greek kathédra “seat, chair,” which is also the source of English cathedral. Chaise longue was first recorded in English in the 1790s.

how is chaise longue used?

No piece of furniture says ‘me time’ quite like a chaise longue. With its reclined back and elevated feet, it offers the promise of serenity in a package designed for just one person …. A chaise longue is ideal in a library, a corner of the master bedroom or an alcove off the living room. And because it usually sits by itself, it can be more sculptural than other pieces of furniture.

Tim McKeough, “Shopping for a Chaise Longue,” The New York Times, December 30, 2019

A well-known example of a piece of furniture that remains steeped in its history, frequently seen in contemporary homes for its anachronistic quality, is the chaise longue (or recamier). Despite its initial popularity in 16th-century France, the elegant silhouette of a chaise longue complete with its twisted, low backrest and detailed feet can be found in many sofa retailers today.

Anya Cooklin-Lofting, “Why forgotten furniture is having a revival,” The Independent, January 24, 2021
Word of the Day Calendar
Word of the Day Calendar