Word of the Day

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

umami

[ oo-mah-mee ]

noun

a strong meaty taste, often considered to be one of the basic taste sensations along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, imparted by glutamate and certain other amino acids.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of umami?

Umami comes unchanged from Japanese umami “savory taste, delicious taste.” Umami comes from umi-, the inflectional stem of umai “(to be) delicious” and –mi, a suffix forming abstract nouns from adjectives. Umami entered English in the 20th century.

how is umami used?

Complex, creamy and very comforting, its intense umami character was exactly what Ms. Nguyen tried to capture in this garlicky noodle recipe … .

Melissa Clark, "These Generously Buttered Noodles Have Loads of Umami," New York Times, March 15, 2019

Glutamate also occurs naturally in all the foods that we associate with umami: aged hard cheeses, tomatoes, mushrooms, dried and fermented fish and fish sauces, and savory condiments like Marmite and Worcestershire sauce.

Helen Rosner, "An MSG Convert Visits the High Church of Umami," The New Yorker, April 27, 2018
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Monday, April 15, 2019

gabelle

[ guh-bel ]

noun

a tax; excise.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of gabelle?

The rare noun gabelle “a tax on salt” comes from Anglo-French (the variety of French used in England after the Norman Conquest) and other Romance languages and dialects from Late and Medieval Latin gabella “tax, salt tax.” Gabella derives ultimately from Arabic qabāla “tax, duty, impost.” There is an understandable confusion in form and meaning between gabelle “a tax on salt,” and gavel “feudal rent, tribute to a superior.” Gavel comes from Old English gafol, a noun that dates from about 725, occurs only in Old English, and derives from the same Germanic root as the verb giveGabelle entered English in the 15th century.

how is gabelle used?

In 1355, the successor of Philip of Valois, John II of France, imposed a gabelle on salt, and again doubled the tax, so that it then rose to eight deniers upon the pound.

Henry Morley, Palissy the Potter: The Life of Bernard Palissy, of Saintes, 1853

They paid a gabelle in order to wear a forbidden ornament and did their best to interfere with the enforcement of the law.

Susan Mosher Stuard, Gilding the Market, 2006
Sunday, April 14, 2019

conlang

[ kon-lang ]

noun

an artificially constructed language used by a group of speakers, as opposed to one that has naturally evolved: conlangs such as Esperanto and Klingon.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of conlang?

Conlang, a blend of con(structed) and lang(uage), dates only from around 1991, but the idea of an artificially constructed international auxiliary language has been around since at least the second half of the 19th century. The most famous of these 19th-century conlangs is Esperanto (invented in 1887); other such languages include Volapük (invented about 1879). Twentieth-century conlangs include Ido, derived from Esperanto and developed in 1907; Interlingua (developed between 1924 and 1951); and the half dozen or so languages that J.R.R. Tolkien invented for his trilogy Lord of the Rings. Speakers of conlangs range from those who would like to see them in wide use, e.g., Esperanto, to the aficionados of sci-fi conventions, who delight in the extravagances of, say, Klingon.

how is conlang used?

A good conlang takes time to develop, and a conlanger who works on their own has all the time in the world.

David J. Peterson, The Art of Language Invention, 2015

… I want figurative language. I’ve been pushing for this in Klingon for 20 years. Because if you really are driving your conlang, then you should be able to use metaphors in that language and be understood.

Lawrence M. Schoen, "How the Klingon and Dothraki Languages Conquered Hollywood," Wired, October 4, 2014, from Geek's Guide to the Galaxy, Episode 119, September 30, 2014

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.