• Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Friday, April 27, 2018

    treen

    adjective [tree-uhn]
    made entirely of wood.
    See Full Definition

    Get to know dictionary.com

    Sign up for our Newsletter!
    Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    What is the origin of treen?

    The adjective treen dates to Old English (about 1000). Its original adjective meanings “made of tree (i.e., wood), wooden; pertaining to trees or a tree” are obsolete or rare in standard English. Its current sense as a noun meaning “(small) articles or utensils made of wood, woodenware” dates from the 20th century.

    How is treen used?

    Much skill had they in runes, and were exceeding deft in scoring them on treen bowls, and on staves, and door-posts and roof-beams and standing-beds and such like things. William Morris, The Roots of the Mountains, 1889

    In old time we had treen chalices and golden priests; but now we have treen priests and golden chalices. John Jewel (1522–1571), "Sermon on Haggai," The Works of John Jewel, 1847

    Get to know dictionary.com

    Sign up for our Newsletter!
    Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Thursday, April 26, 2018

    frugivorous

    adjective [froo-jiv-er-uhs]
    fruit-eating.
    See Full Definition

    What is the origin of frugivorous?

    The English adjective frugivorous “fruit-eating” is used mostly in biology to describe animals that eat fruit. The first element, frugi-, is a combining form of Latin frux “fruit, crops, produce” related to the verb fruī “to enjoy the fruits or products or results of.” From the form frūg- English has frugal and frugivorous. From fructus, the past participle of fruī (from an assumed frūguī), English has fruit (from Old French, from Latin frūctus) and fructify (from Old French fructifier, from Latin frūctificāre). The second element, -vorous, ultimately comes from Latin vorāre “to swallow ravenously,” whence English has devour (from Middle French devourer, from Latin dēvorāre “to swallow down,” and voracious (from Latin vorāc-, the stem of vorax “ravenous, insatiable.” Frugivorous entered English in the 18th century.

    How is frugivorous used?

    ... the frugivorous bats, and the fruit-eating quadrumana, including the gorgeous mandrill, are the most highly-coloured of the Mammalia. Grant Allen, The Colour-Sense: Its Origin and Development, 1879

    Fruit, by the way, was all their diet. ... while I was with them, in spite of some carnal cravings, I had to be frugivorous also. H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, 1895

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    velitation

    noun [vel-i-tey-shuhn]
    a minor dispute or contest.
    See Full Definition

    What is the origin of velitation?

    English velitation comes from Latin vēlitātiōn- (stem of vēlitātiō) “skirmish,” ultimately a derivation of vēles (stem vēlit-) “light-armed foot soldier wearing little armor, skirmisher,” which is a derivative from the adjective vēlox (stem vēlōc-) “quick, rapid, speedy” (and the source of English velocity). The vēlitēs, a specialized unit of soldiers in the ancient Roman army, were armed with swords, javelins, and small round shields and were stationed in front of the legionary lines. Before the main action began, these skirmishers threw their javelins at the enemy lines to break up their formation and then rapidly withdrew to the rear of the legionary lines. Vēlitēs as a type of soldier or unit in the Roman army were relatively brief: they are first mentioned about 211 b.c. in the dark, dark days (for Rome) of the Second Punic War (218–201 b.c.). The vēlitēs were probably formed owing to lowered property qualifications for military service in 214 b.c. and were drawn from the lowest, youngest, and poorest citizens. Vēlitēs are last mentioned in the Jugurthine War of 112-106 b.c.; presumably they were subsumed into the centuries (a company consisting of approximately 100 men) in a later reorganization of the Roman army. Velitation entered English in the 17th century.

    How is velitation used?

    ... let him read those Pharsalian fields fought of late in France for religion, their massacres, wherein by their own relations in twenty-four years I know not how many millions have been consumed, whole families and cities, and he shall find ours to be but velitations to theirs. Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621

    While the ladies in the tea-room of the Fox Hotel were engaged in the light snappish velitation, or skirmish, which we have described, the gentlemen who remained in the parlour were more than once like to have quarrelled more seriously. Sir Walter Scott, St. Ronan's Well, 1823

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Tuesday, April 24, 2018

    grok

    verb [grok]
    Slang. to understand thoroughly and intuitively.
    See Full Definition

    What is the origin of grok?

    Grok was coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961).

    How is grok used?

    Digital utopians have come in for criticism (sometimes in these pages) for failing fully to grok the messy realities of politics and the virtues of old-fashioned shoe leather in political protest ... Ben McGrath, "Nerd Parade," The New Yorker, January 30, 2012

    Our gray matter is so complex, scientists lament, that it can’t quite understand itself. But if we can’t grok our own brains, maybe the machines can do it for us. Robbie Gonzalez, "AI Just Learned How to Boost the Brain's Memory," Wired, February 6, 2018

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Monday, April 23, 2018

    Falstaffian

    adjective [fawl-staf-ee-uhn]
    of, relating to, or having the qualities of Falstaff, especially his robust, bawdy humor, good-natured rascality, and brazen braggadocio: Falstaffian wit.
    See Full Definition

    What is the origin of Falstaffian?

    The adjective Falstaffian derives from Falstaff, the family name of Sir John Falstaff, a fictional character in two of Shakespeare’s historical plays (Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2) and in the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. His death is briefly treated in Henry V. Falstaff as a character is fat, vain, boastful, cowardly, bibulous; he lives on stolen or borrowed money and consorts with petty criminals. He has always been a favorite character among playgoers. Falstaffian entered English in the early 19th century.

    How is Falstaffian used?

    You couldn't see the top of the harvest table for all the dishes and wine bottles, but I could see Paul presiding at the far end: bawdy, Falstaffian. Robert Hellenga, The Confessions of Frances Godwin, 2014

    To it would his wholesome and happy mind revert, how often! to rest there for the space of a smile, at least, and sometimes long enough for a full, oceanic commotion of mirth, a perfected soul-delivery of Falstaffian laughter. William MacDonald, "General Preface: A Discourse of Editions Past and Present," Essays of Elia, 1903

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Sunday, April 22, 2018

    biophilia

    noun [bahy-oh-fil-ee-uh, -feel-yuh]
    a love of life and the living world; the affinity of human beings for other life forms.
    See Full Definition

    What is the origin of biophilia?

    Biophilia is a New Latin word formed by two Greek combining forms widely used in English, bio- (from bíos “life”) and -philia “love (of).” Biophilia was coined by the German-born U.S. psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1900-80) in The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil (1964) in the meaning “love for humanity and nature, and independence and freedom.” E. O. (Edward Osborne) Wilson, U.S. biologist, theorist, and author (born 1929) expanded the meaning to “the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms” in Biophilia (1984). The word biophilia entered English in 1964.

    How is biophilia used?

    Indeed, on a per-capita basis, New Zealand may be the most nature-loving nation on the planet. With a population of just four and a half million, the country has some four thousand conservation groups. But theirs is, to borrow E. O. Wilson’s term, a bloody, bloody biophilia. Elizabeth Kolbert, "The Big Kill," The New Yorker, December 22 & 29, 2014

    ... that fourth kind of love in Perdita's bundle--biophilia--isn't it rather intriguing? ... He thinks that all living things have an instinctive orientation toward one another. Biophilia is supposed to be deep in our biological makeup. Hilary Scharper, Perdita, 2013

    Previous Day Load More
  • Word of the day
    Previous Week Next Week
    Saturday, April 21, 2018

    panchreston

    noun [pan-kres-tuh n]
    a proposed explanation intended to address a complex problem by trying to account for all possible contingencies but typically proving to be too broadly conceived and therefore oversimplified to be of any practical use.
    See Full Definition

    What is the origin of panchreston?

    English panchreston comes via Latin panchrēstos “good for everything, universal.” In Latin, its usage is restricted to medicine or derived metaphors, e.g., Pliny the Elder (a.d. 23-79) uses panchrēstos stomaticē, a phrase of two Greek words with Greek inflections, meaning “universal remedy for ailments of the mouth”; Cicero (106-43 b.c.), in one of his forensic speeches, uses panchrēstō medicāmentō “universal cure” as a scornful periphrasis for “bribe.” The original Greek adjective (and noun) pánchrēstos has the same relatively restricted meaning, i.e., to describe widely useful tools or medications. Panchreston entered English in the 17th century.

    How is panchreston used?

    Bunnell ... suggested that the term "fragmentation" has become a panchreston because it has become a catch-all phrase that means different things to different people. David B. Lindenmayer and Joern Fischer, Habitat Fragmentation and Landscape Change, 2006

    Unfortunately, this term has by now acquired so many definitions (at least 70 by recent count) that it has become a panchreston--a term that means so many different things that it means almost nothing. Daniel Simberloff, Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know, 2013

    Previous Day Load More
Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.