• Word of the day
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    Saturday, December 22, 2018

    turtledove

    noun [tur-tl-duhv]
    a sweetheart or beloved mate.
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    What is the origin of turtledove?

    The turtle in turtledove has nothing to do with the aquatic and terrestrial reptile whose trunk is enclosed in a shell. The ultimate derivation of the reptilian turtle is Greek Tartaroûchos “controlling Tartarus, holding the nether world”; the word turtle entered English in the 17th century. Turtledove is a compound of Old English turtla, from Latin turtur “turtledove,” imitating the call of the bird. Dove comes from Old English dufe, dūfe and is related to the verb dive. Similar forms are found in other Germanic languages. Turtledove entered English in the 14th century.

    How is turtledove used?

    You look anything but miserable, my turtledove. In fact, I never saw you look so well. E. F. Harkins, The Schemers, 1903

    A whole new world was mine the day ... I met my turtledove ... for since we've been together ... my heart has been in love. Ben Burroughs, "Since We Met," Gettysburg Times, February 2, 1962

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, December 21, 2018

    hibernal

    adjective [hahy-bur-nl]
    of or relating to winter; wintry.
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    What is the origin of hibernal?

    Hibernal “wintry, appearing in winter” and also “pertaining to the winter of life” comes straight from the Late Latin adjective hībernālis “wintry,” first appearing in the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible as edited or translated by St. Jerome). Hībernālis comes from Latin hībernus, which comes from a hypothetical Proto-Indo-European adjective gheimrinos, source also of Greek cheimerinós “in winter, winter’s,” and Slavic (Polish) zimny “cold.” Gheimrinos is formed from the Proto-Indo-European root ghei-, ghi- “snow, winter.” The form ghimo- appears in the Sanskrit noun himá- “cold, frost, snow,” familiar to us in the Himālaya Mountains, “Snow’s abode.” Hibernal entered English in the 17th century.

    How is hibernal used?

    The sky was in its grey wintry mood where there is no blue break in the clouds to be expected, no bright spell to hope for, nothing for it but to accept the hibernal darkness the way you accept love or death. Jean Rouaud, The World More or Less, translated by Barbara Wright, 1998

    Here's where to engage in sledding, animal tracking, tree tapping, cross-country skiing, and other hibernal pursuits without ever leaving town. , "Out in the Cold," New York, January 12, 1981

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, December 20, 2018

    gewgaw

    noun [gyoo-gaw, goo-]
    something gaudy and useless; trinket; bauble.
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    What is the origin of gewgaw?

    Gewgaw derives from Middle English giuegaue. It is a gradational compound of uncertain origin, perhaps akin to the Middle French and French term gogo, as in the adverb à gogo meaning “as much as you like; to your heart's content; galore.” It’s been used in English since the late 12th century or the early 13th century.

    How is gewgaw used?

    The Star was proving particularly awkward ... it was refusing to look like the resplendent gewgaw it was. Michael Innes, Honeybath's Haven, 1977

    If nothing's missing, if every handkerchief, knick-knack, piece of cut glass, every gewgaw is accounted for, we heave a great sigh of relief. Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Death on the Installment Plan, translated by Ralph Manheim, 1966

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, December 19, 2018

    joyance

    noun [joi-uhns]
    Archaic. joyous feeling; gladness.
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    What is the origin of joyance?

    Joyance “gladness, rejoicing,” a compound of the verb joy “to feel glad, rejoice” and the suffix -ance, used to form nouns from verbs, was coined by Edmund Spenser (c1552-99) in his Faerie Queene (1590). Ben Jonson (c1573-1637) and Samuel Johnson (1709-84) were not great fans of Edmund Spenser’s contrived, artificial diction, and joyance may be one of the reasons why. The word was rare until two of the Lake Poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and Robert Southey (1774-1843), resuscitated it in the late 18th century.

    How is joyance used?

    The rooms rang with silvery voices of women and delightful laughter, while the fiddles went merrily, their melodies chiming sweetly with the joyance of his mood. Booth Tarkington, Monsieur Beaucaire, 1900

    ... overhead the soaring skylark sang, as it were, to express the joyance of the day. Gilbert Parker, A Ladder of Swords, 1904

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, December 18, 2018

    kaleidoscopic

    adjective [kuh-lahy-duh-skop-ik]
    continually shifting from one set of relations to another; rapidly changing: the kaleidoscopic events of the past year.
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    What is the origin of kaleidoscopic?

    Kaleidoscopic comes from Greek kalós “beautiful,” eîdos “shape,” and -scope, a combining form meaning “instrument for viewing.” The suffix -ic is used to form adjective from other parts of speech in Greek and Latin loanwords in English. Kaleidoscopic entered English in the 1840s.

    How is kaleidoscopic used?

    The natural progress of her life, however, is fragmented in Hong’s kaleidoscopic fusion of reality and fantasy. Richard Brody, "Idiosyncratic Romance at the New York Film Festival," The New Yorker, October 2, 2017

    Things had happened, in the last few hours, with a kaleidoscopic rapidity--the whirl of events had left her mind in a dazed condition. Margaret E. Sangster, The Island of Faith, 1921

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, December 17, 2018

    grinch

    noun [grinch]
    a person or thing that spoils or dampens the pleasure of others.
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    What is the origin of grinch?

    The Grinch was the misanthropic central character in the children’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) by “Dr. Seuss” (Theodor Seuss Geisel). The book was made into a TV special in 1966 and a feature film in 2000.

    How is grinch used?

    I'd prefer not to be a grinch, but it’s always been beyond me why people like to argue about literary prizes. Willing Davidson, "Pullet Surprise," The New Yorker, April 20, 2009

    Every family has a grinch: the person who wants to sleep in instead of opening presents, refuses to sing Christmas carols, or eats a Twix instead of plum pudding. Sally Holmes, "Anna Wintour Is the Grinch Who Stole the Christmas Tree," The Cut, December 26, 2013

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, December 16, 2018

    vivify

    verb [viv-uh-fahy]
    to enliven; brighten; sharpen.
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    What is the origin of vivify?

    The English verb vivify comes from Old French vivifier, from Late Latin vīvificāre “to make alive, restore to life, quicken.” Vīvificāre breaks down easily to vīvus “alive,” from vīv(ere) “to live,” from a very widespread Proto-Indo-European root with many variants: gwei-, gwī-, gwi-, gwiyō- “live” (gw- usually becomes v- in Latin). The Proto-Indo-European forms gwīwos and gwiwos “alive, life” become vīvus in Latin, bivus in Oscan (an Italic language spoken in southern Italy), bíos in Greek (from bíwos, from gwiwos). The Proto-Indo-European adjective gwigwos become kwikwaz in Germanic and ultimately English quick (in the archaic sense "alive," as in the phrase “the quick and the dead”). The suffix -fy comes from Middle English -fi(en), from Old French -fier, from Latin -ficāre, a combining form for verbs of doing or making, from the adjective suffix -ficus, from the verb facere “to do, make,” from the very complicated Proto-Indo-European root dhē-, dho- (and many other variants) “put, place,” the same source for English do. Vivify entered English in the 16th century.

    How is vivify used?

    ... he enlarged his sphere of action from the cold practice of law, into those vast social improvements which law, rightly regarded, should lead, and vivify, and create. Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Lucretia, 1846

    Faber vivifies the atmosphere and environment of the fictional planet, from its marked humidity to its insect life, with fascinating specificity. Nicole Lamy, "Books for Left-Brained Readers," New York Times, October 2, 2018

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