Word of the Day

Word of the day

⚛️ Today's Word was chosen in partnership with the Museum of Science as the Science Word Of The Week! ⚛️

white hole

[ wahyt hohl ] [ waɪt hoʊl ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a theoretical celestial object into which matter is funneled from a black hole.

learn about the english language

Why the Museum of Science chose white hole

Most people have heard of black holes, but white holes are theorized to be their lesser-known opposite. Watch the video below to hear more about white holes from award-winning science communicator Maynard Okereke, better known as the Hip Hop M.D.

More about white hole

White hole is named by analogy after black hole. White is related to German weiß and Swedish vit, while the words for “white” in many Romance languages (including French blanc, Italian bianco, Portuguese branco, and Spanish blanco) are related to English blank. Russian astrophysicist Igor Novikov first presented his theory about white holes in the mid-1960s.


While black holes are known for swallowing all energy and matter nearby, white holes are essentially their Bizarro World counterparts and do the opposite.


White holes are theorized to be the exit point of a wormhole—matter would enter a black hole at one point in the universe, move through a tunnel, and exit at a completely different point in the universe through a white hole. Learn more fun facts at the Museum of Science.

quiz icon
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
arrows pointing up and down
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ fuh-rin-jee-uhl, -juhl, far-in-jee-uhl ] [ fəˈrɪn dʒi əl, -dʒəl, ˌfær ɪnˈdʒi əl ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


(of a speech sound) articulated with retraction of the root of the tongue and constriction of the pharynx.

learn about the english language

More about pharyngeal

Pharyngeal, “articulated with the tongue root and the pharynx,” ultimately comes from Ancient Greek phárynx (stem pháryng-), “throat.” Easily confused with pharyngeal is laryngeal, “articulated in the larynx,” which comes from Ancient Greek lárynx (stem láryng-), “upper windpipe.” Though the pharynx and the larynx are nearly adjacent parts of the esophagus and bear names that have rhymed since Ancient Greek was a living language, it is unclear whether they share any deeper connection. One faction of the linguistic community believes that the -ynx portion of both words suggests that they are of a pre-Greek origin (see obelize earlier this week for more), while another links phárynx to Latin frūmen, “gruel; throat.” Pharyngeal was first recorded in English in the 1820s.

how is pharyngeal used?

English does not use pharyngeal consonants, which are fairly rare in the world’s languages …. Pharyngealization is different from pharyngeal consonants: A pharyngealized consonant involves a consonant not normally produced with a tightened pharynx.

“About Enduring Voices,” National Geographic, October 7, 2010

The name [Muammar] has four letters. (Short vowels aren’t usually written in Arabic.) The first “m” is straightforward. The second is the hardest: it’s called ‘ayn in Arabic, and a “voiced pharyngeal fricative” by linguists. The best nontechnical description I’ve heard is imagine the sound hip-hoppers make when saying “a’ight’.

“What about their first names?” The Economist, February 25, 2011
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day


[ uhmp-teenth ] [ ˈʌmpˈtinθ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


of an indefinitely large number in succession.

learn about the english language

More about umpteenth

Umpteenth, “of an indefinitely large number,” is the ordinal form of the cardinal number umpteen, which itself is based on umpty, a term for an indeterminate number, and the combining form -teen, a variant of ten. Umpty originated as a slang word to refer to the dash (—) in Morse code, with the ump- part a fanciful designation and the -ty part inspired by numbers such as twenty and thirty. Because the elements -ty and -teen are both related to ten, the change from umpty to umpteen essentially swaps one “ten” for another. Umpteenth was first recorded in English in the late 1910s.

how is umpteenth used?

Maybe you’ve already finished the umpteenth binge-watch of your favorite show, or you’re just in a very different headspace than you were a few months ago.

Aisha Harris, Rafer Guzman, Kristen Meinzer, “Stuck In A Streaming Rut? We've Got You Covered,” NPR, March 24, 2021

One of gaming’s greatest heroes, Super Mario, must rescue Princess Peach for the umpteenth time in New Super Mario Bros. 2, a fresh game from the Japanese developers at Nintendo who have been creating interactive adventures for their plumber protagonist for more than a generation.

Stephen Totilo, “Back to His Old Stomping Ground,” The New York Times, August 17, 2012
Word of the Day Calendar

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

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