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[ tawr-id, tor- ] [ ˈtɔr ɪd, ˈtɒr- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


oppressively hot, parching, or burning, as climate, weather, or air.

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More about torrid

Torrid “oppressively hot” comes from Latin torridus “dried up, parched,” from the verb torrēre “to parch, burn.” This Latin verb has two stems: torr-, as in torrent, and tost-, which is the source of toast. A popular hypothesis is that torrēre is related to Latin terra “earth,” perhaps originally in the sense “dry land,” which is the source of the recent Word of the Day terrene. Because of Grimm’s law, Latin t tends to correspond to English th, and this is how Latin torrēre is a distant relative of English thirst (from Old English thrust “dryness”). For more on terra, check out the recent Words of the Day testudinate and telluric, and to see Grimm’s law in action, compare togated and transcendental. Torrid was first recorded in English in the 1580s.

how is torrid used?

[T]he second planet from the sun is nothing like Earth—from its torrid surface to the upper reaches of its acid-laced atmosphere. The bottom line: just be glad you live here … Venus’s surface temperature hovers around a sweltering 870 degrees Fahrenheit (465 degrees Celsius).

Nikhil Swaminathan, “Twisted Sister: Twin Planets Earth and Venus Were ‘Separated at Birth,’” Scientific American, November 29, 2007

Torrid weather gripped large parts of western and central Europe on Wednesday, setting new June temperature records in Germany and the Czech Republic and forcing drivers to slow down on some sections of the famously speedy German autobahns.

“Europe sets heat records as much of continent sizzles,” AP News, June 26, 2019
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[ kawr-sair ] [ ˈkɔr sɛər ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a pirate, especially formerly of the southern Mediterranean coast.

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More about corsair

Corsair “a pirate” is the product of a long chain of borrowings from one Romance language to the next on its way to English. The term comes via Middle French corsaire from Provençal corsar, and before that, the word traveled by way of Italian corsaro from Medieval Latin cursārius “plunderer,” equivalent to Latin cursus “a running, course” plus -ārius, an agent noun-forming suffix. Cursus comes from the verb currere “to run,” which has four common descendant forms in English: corr- via Italian and Spanish (as in corral and corridor), cour- via French (as in courier and discourse), cur(r)- (as in current and occur), and curs- (as in cursor and excursion). Corsair was first recorded in English in the 1540s.

how is corsair used?

Act One begins on the Greek island controlled by the corsairs, or pirates. There’s a raucous, offstage chorus introducing Corrado, the chief corsair, who is in exile.

“Giuseppe Verdi's 'Il Corsaro'”, NPR, April 21, 2007

London dismantled markets for trading pirate booty; pirate-friendly cities like Port Royal, Jamaica, were brought under heel, and blockades were launched on the potentates that harbored the corsairs of the southern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.

Bruce Sterling, “It’s not Cybarmageddon, it's the new heyday of piracy,” Wired, September 3, 2011
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[ er-zahts, -sahts ] [ ˈɛr zɑts, -sɑts ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


serving as a substitute; synthetic; artificial.

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More about ersatz

Ersatz “serving as a substitute” is a borrowing of the German noun Ersatz “a substitute,” from the verb ersetzen “to replace.” Ersetzen is a compound of the Old High German elements ir- “out” and sezzan “to set.” Ir-, a variant of ur-, is related to English about, but, out, utmost, and utter as well as to German Urheimat and Ursprache, plus the recent Word of the Day carouse. Sezzan is closely related to English nest, saddle, seat, set, settle, sit, and soot, and to borrowings originally from other Indo-European languages including the recent Words of the Day assiduity, chaise longue, and sídh. Ersatz was first recorded in English in the early 1870s.

how is ersatz used?

Unable to print the real thing, Zimbabwe’s central bank recently announced that it would introduce a kind of ersatz American money for citizens to use in its place.

Norimitsu Onishi, “Will Ersatz Dollars Satisfy Cash-Starved Zimbabweans?” The New York Times, June 23, 2016

Christman says it’s possible to induce ersatz left-handedness by moving the eyes from side to side, which gets both sides of the brain going.

JR Minkel, “Lefties May Possess Superior Memory for Events,” Scientific American, October 23, 2001
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