Word of the Day

Friday, June 14, 2019

undulate

[ uhn-juh-leyt, uhn-dyuh-, -duh- ]

verb (used without object)

to move with a sinuous or wavelike motion; display a smooth rising-and-falling or side-to-side alternation of movement: The flag undulates in the breeze.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of undulate?

Something that undulates, as a flag or rhythm, moves side to side or rises and falls like a wave. Indeed, its origin is Latin unda “wave,” via undulātus “waved, wavy,” composed of ula, a diminutive suffix, and –ātus, a past participle suffix. Unda also yields English abound, abundant, inundate, redound, redundant, and surround. Latin unda in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root wed– “water, wet,” ultimate source of the names of two substances that may cause some to undulate, as it were, on their feet: vodka (via Russian) and whiskey (Irish or Scots Gaelic). Best to stay hydrated, another derivative of wed-, via Greek hýdōr “water.” Undulate entered English in the 1600s.

how is undulate used?

At the end, the national anthem is played, and our flag undulates all day on its very tall mast and unfurls as it ascends majestically.

José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953), The World War I Diary of José de la Luz Sáenz, translated by Emilio Zamora with Ben Maya, 2014

There is a strange, dull glow to the east, from the sea; it undulates softly, rotates, like a net that has captured nothing.

Lori Baker, The Glass Ocean, 2013
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.
Thursday, June 13, 2019

lulu

[ loo-loo ]

noun

any remarkable or outstanding person or thing.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of lulu?

Lulu was originally a piece of American slang. Slang terms have notoriously difficult origins, and lulu, also spelled loulou and looly, has no reliable etymology. Lulu first entered English in the mid-1850s.

how is lulu used?

… Marty loved to point out any big or little step and say to her, “Watch out. It’s a lulu.”

Bill Gaston, "A Work-in-Progress," Gargoyles, 2006

I started to work at the knot, which was a lulu.

Rex Stout, The League of Frightened Men, 1935
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

hangdog

[ hang-dawg, -dog ]

adjective

browbeaten; defeated; intimidated; abject: He always went about with a hangdog look.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of hangdog?

Hangdog is a compound of hang and dog, originally an expression for a person deemed so low and despicable they were considered fit only to hang a bad dog or be hanged like one, as was once the custom; hence, by extension, “browbeaten, defeated, intimidated abject.” In the American South the adjectival form doghanged also occurs, like Southern peckerwood for woodpecker. Hangdog entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is hangdog used?

For more than a year now, the desolation Lyndon Johnson felt about his position had shown in his posture … and in his face, on which all the lines ran downward, his jowls sagging, so that reporters mocked in print his “hangdog” look.

Robert A. Caro, "The Transition," The New Yorker, March 26, 2012

After his opening remarks, Cohen, with his weary, hangdog look, affected a penitent air.

Peter Marks, "The Michael Cohen hearing wasn't a hearing at all. It was cheap theatrics." Washington Post, February 27, 2019

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.