Word of the Day

Monday, July 09, 2018

ullage

[ uhl-ij ]

noun

the amount by which the contents fall short of filling a container, as a cask or bottle.

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What is the origin of ullage?

If ever there was a Scrabble word, ullage is that word. In Anglo-French the word is spelled ulliage; Old French records many spellings, e.g., ouillage, (h)eullage, œillage; Middle English has ulage, oylage. The French noun ultimately comes from ouil “eye,” also “bunghole,” from Latin oculus “eye.” The very common Romance suffix -age, prolific in English, comes from Late Latin -agium, a suffix for forming nouns, a derivation of Latin -āticum, the neuter of the adjective suffix -āticus. The suffix -āticus is an extension of -ātus, the past participle ending of first conjugation verbs. Ullage entered English in the 15th century.

how is ullage used?

“And what about the ullage?” she said. We both looked at her. … “The ullage. The part of the bottle that’s empty, under the cap.”

Ethan Canin, A Doubter's Almanac, 2016

… inspectors stroll casually from hatch to hatch, measuring ullage (the air space between the top of the oil and the top of the tank) with a long rule.

Richard F. Dempewolff, "A Super-Tanker Feeds Oil-Thirsty America," Popular Mechanics, August 1950
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Sunday, July 08, 2018

bravura

[ bruh-vyoor-uh, -voor-uh ]

noun

a display of daring; brilliant performance.

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What is the origin of bravura?

The noun bravura is still unnaturalized in English. The word is obviously Italian, ultimately derived from the adjective bravo, which French borrowed from Italian as brave (English brave comes from French). Further etymology of bravo is unclear: some claim it to be from an assumed Vulgar Latin brabus (Latin barbarus) “barbarian” (Roman authors remarked on the impetuous bravery of Celtic and Germanic warriors). The Italian suffix -ura (-ure in French) comes from the Latin noun suffix -ūra. Bravura entered English in the 18th century.

how is bravura used?

“Nothing wins more loyalty for a leader than an air of bravura,” the Duke said. “I, therefore, cultivate an air of bravura.”

Frank Herbert, Dune, 1965

The acting, though by no means homogeneous, has its share of bravura.

John Simon, "False 'Messiah,' Fake 'Diamonds'," New York, January 7, 1985
Saturday, July 07, 2018

plantigrade

[ plan-ti-greyd ]

adjective

walking on the whole sole of the foot, as humans, and bears.

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What is the origin of plantigrade?

The adjective plantigrade comes from the Latin noun planta “sole (of the foot)” and the verb gradī “to take steps, step, walk.” The Proto-Indo-European root ghredh- “to step, stride” is not very common, and all current English words are borrowings from Latin, e.g., gradual, grade, and verbs ending in -gress, e.g., ingress, regress, transgress. Planta, however, is another story: it shows the infix n, but its Proto-Indo-European root is the very common plat-, plet-, plot- “flat, broad.” Plat- is the source of the Lithuanian adjective platùs “wide, broad,” the all but identical Greek adjective platýs “flat, wide” (as in platypus “flatfoot”), the English adjective and noun flat, the noun flet (also flett) “dwelling, hall,” familiar to readers of Beowulf and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (probably the same crowd), and flan (the Spanish custard). Plantigrade entered English in the 19th century.

how is plantigrade used?

When later the old man slipped back into the night, the bear lifted itself and nosed briefly about its prison and the open gate, then walked out favoring one leg, its plantigrade shuffle derelict and comic in the darkness.

Robert Herring, McCampbell's War, 1986

Cats and many other carnivores walk upright on their toes, a stance known as digitigrade, as opposed to the plantigrade stance found in humans and bears.

Kevin Hansen, Bobcat: Master of Survival, 2007

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