word | 1 May 06:59 2004

baroque

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The Word of the Day for May 1 is:

baroque   \buh-ROAK\   adjective
     1 : relating to a style of artistic expression prevalent 
especially in the 17th century that is noted for its use of 
complex forms, bold ornamentation, and contrasting elements to 
evoke tension 
   *2 : characterized by grotesqueness, extravagance, 
complexity, or flamboyance 

Example sentence:
     Marcia's taste was for straightforward, contemporary 
design, so naturally she was not impressed by the baroque decor 
in the bed-and-breakfast.

Did you know?
     "Baroque" came to English from a French word 
meaning "irregularly shaped." At first, the word in French was 
used mostly to refer to pearls. Eventually, it came to describe 
an extravagant style of art characterized by curving lines, 
gilt, and gold. This type of art, which dated from about 1550 to 
1750, was sometimes considered to be excessively decorated and 
overly complicated. It makes sense, therefore, that the meaning 
of the word "baroque" has broadened to include anything that 
(Continue reading)

word | 2 May 06:59 2004

clerisy

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The Word of the Day for May 2 is: 

clerisy   \KLEH-ruh-see\   noun
     : intelligentsia

Example sentence:
     "Brinkley's book [_Washington Goes to War_] is history 
rescued from the sterility of the academic clerisy and made 
accessible to the general reader." (George F. Will, _St. 
Petersburg Times_, April 14, 1988)

Did you know?
     English philosopher-poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-
1834) believed that if humanity was to flourish, it was 
necessary to create a secular organization of learned 
individuals, "whether poets, or philosophers, or scholars" 
to "diffuse through the whole community . . . that quantity and 
quality of knowledge which was indispensable." Coleridge named 
this hypothetical group the "clerisy," a term he adapted 
from "Klerisei," a German word for "clergy"  (in preference, it 
seems, to the Russian term "intelligentsia" which we borrowed 
later, in the early 1900s). Coleridge may have equated "clerisy" 
with an old sense of "clergy" meaning "learning" or "knowledge," 
which by his time was used only in the proverb "an ounce of 
(Continue reading)

word | 3 May 06:50 2004

vindicate

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The Word of the Day for May 3 is:

vindicate   \VIN-duh-kayt\   verb
     1 : avenge 
     2 : to free from allegation or blame 
     3 *a : confirm, substantiate  b : to provide justification 
or defense for : justify 

Example sentence:
     The latest discovery appeared to vindicate the scientist's 
theory about the origins of the universe.

Did you know? 
     It's not surprising that the two earliest senses 
of "vindicate," which has been used in English since at least 
the mid-16th century, are "to set free, deliver" (a sense that 
is now obsolete) and "to avenge." "Vindicate" derives from the 
Latin "vindicatus," the past participle of the verb "vindicare," 
meaning "to set free, avenge, lay claim to." "Vindicare," in 
turn, derives from "vindex," a noun meaning "claimant, avenger." 
Other descendants of "vindicare" in English include such 
vengeful words as "avenge" itself, "revenge," "vengeance," 
"vendetta," and "vindictive."  Closer cousins of "vindicate" 
are "vindicable" ("capable of being vindicated") and the 
(Continue reading)

word | 4 May 06:59 2004

ecstatic

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The Word of the Day for May 4 is:

ecstatic   \ek-STAT-ik\   adjective
     : of, relating to, or marked by a state of extreme 
emotional excitement or rapturous delight

Example sentence:
     Carla was ecstatic when she received an acceptance letter 
from the college she had set her heart on attending.

Did you know?
     "Ecstatic" has been used in our language since at least 
1590, and the noun "ecstasy" is even older, dating from the 
1300s. Both derive from the Greek verb "existanai" ("to put out 
of place"), which was used in a Greek phrase meaning "to drive 
someone out of his or her mind." That seems an appropriate 
history for words that can describe someone who is nearly out of 
his or her mind with intense emotion. In early use, "ecstatic" 
was sometimes linked to mystic trances, out-of-body experiences, 
and temporary madness. Today, however, it most typically implies 
a state of enthusiastic excitement or intense happiness.

word | 5 May 06:50 2004

verjuice

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The Word of the Day for May 5 is:

verjuice   \VER-joos\   noun
   *1 : the sour juice of crab apples or of unripe fruit (as 
grapes or apples);  also : an acid liquor made from verjuice
     2 : acidity of disposition or manner

Example sentence:
     "The other women took to their Bibles and hymnbooks, and 
looked as sour as verjuice over their reading." (Wilkie Collins, 
_The Moonstone_)

Did you know? 
     "Verjuice" has been getting some attention lately -- as one 
source put it, it's "a recent buzzword on the culinary scene." 
For those of us not on the culinary edge, verjuice is a tart, 
pale juice pressed from unripe white grapes, ideal for use in 
sauces and salad dressings. Verjuice has been around for 
centuries and is used in Dijon mustard, but the word (a 
descendant of Anglo-French "vert," meaning "green," and "jous," 
meaning "juice") was largely forgotten by English speakers until 
its "rediscovery" in the early 90s. While it's apparent 
that "verjuice" has returned to our kitchens, the same can't yet 
be said of the literary scene. Writers have not generally begun 
(Continue reading)

word | 6 May 06:50 2004

fallible

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The Word of the Day for May 6 is:

fallible   \FAL-uh-bul\   adjective
     1 : liable to be erroneous 
    *2 : capable of making a mistake

Example sentence:
     As a little girl, Lucy idolized her father and believed he 
was always right, but as she got older, she realized that he was 
a fallible person who made mistakes like everyone else.

Did you know? 
     "Errare humanum est."  That Latin expression translates 
into English as "To err is human." Of course, cynics might say 
that it is also human to deceive. The word "fallible" 
simultaneously recognizes both of these human character flaws. 
In modern usage, it refers to one's ability to err, but it 
descends from the Latin verb "fallere," which means "to 
deceive." "Fallible" has been used to describe the potential for 
error since at least the 15th century. Other descendants of the 
deceptive "fallere" in English, all of which actually 
predate "fallible," include "fallacy" (the earliest, now 
obsolete, meaning was "guile, trickery"), "fault," "false," and 
even "fail" and "failure."
(Continue reading)

word | 7 May 06:50 2004

abnegate

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The Word of the Day for May 7 is:

abnegate   \AB-nih-gayt\   verb
         1 : deny, renounce
        *2 : surrender, relinquish

Example sentence: 
     Sylvia chose to abnegate the privileges of her wealthy 
upbringing, seeking instead a simple life helping those less 
fortunate than herself.

Did you know? 
     There's no denying that the Latin root "negare" has given 
English some useful verbs. That verb, which means "to deny," was 
the ultimate source of the noun "abnegation," a synonym 
of "denial" that began appearing in English manuscripts in the 
14th century. By the 17th century, people had concluded that if 
there was a noun "abnegation," there ought to be a related 
verb "abnegate," and so they created one by a process 
called "back-formation" (that's the process of trimming a suffix 
or prefix off a long word to make a shorter one). But "abnegate" 
and "abnegation" are not the only English offspring of "negare." 
That root is also an ancestor of other nay-saying terms such 
as "deny," "negate," and "renegade."
(Continue reading)

word | 8 May 06:50 2004

gadzookery

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The Word of the Day for May 8 is:

gadzookery   \gad-ZOO-kuh-ree\   noun
     British : the use of archaisms (as in a historical novel)

Example sentence:
     "Get rid of the gadzookery," Bruce's editor 
cautioned. "Mirabella can perfectly well say 'please' instead 
of  'prithee.'"

Did you know?
     "Gadzooks . . . you astonish me!" cries Mr. Lenville in 
Charles Dickens' _Nicholas Nickleby_. We won't accuse Dickens of 
gadzookery ("the bane of historical fiction," as historical 
novelist John Vernon called it in _Newsday_ magazine), because 
we assume people actually said "gadzooks" back in the 1830s. 
That mild oath is an old-fashioned euphemism, so it is thought, 
for "God's hooks" (a reference, supposedly, to the nails of the 
Crucifixion). But it's a fine line today's historical novelist 
must toe, avoiding expressions like "zounds" and "pshaw" 
and "tush" ("tushery" is a synonym of the newer "gadzookery," 
which first cropped up in the 1950s), as well as "gadzooks," 
while at the same time rejecting modern expressions such 
as "okay" and "nice."
(Continue reading)

word | 9 May 06:50 2004

loquacious

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The Word of the Day for May 9 is:

loquacious   \loh-KWAY-shus\   adjective
     1 : full of excessive talk : wordy
    *2 : given to fluent or excessive talk : garrulous 

Example sentence:
     Bob is a loquacious spokesman for his company, an easygoing 
speaker with a tendency to ramble on for about ten minutes 
longer than his audience wants to listen.

Did you know?
     When you hear or say "loquacious," you might notice that 
the word has a certain poetic ring. In fact, poets quickly 
snatched up "loquacious" soon after its debut in 1663 and, with 
poetic license, stretched its meaning to include such things as 
the chattering of birds and the babbling of brooks. In less 
poetic uses, "loquacious" usually means "excessively talkative." 
The ultimate source of all this chattiness is "loqui," a Latin 
verb meaning "to speak." Other words descended from "loqui" 
include "colloquial," "eloquent," "soliloquy," 
and "ventriloquism."

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
(Continue reading)

word | 10 May 06:50 2004

manifesto

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The Word of the Day for May 10 is:

manifesto   \man-uh-FESS-toh\   noun
     : a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, 
motives, or views of its issuer

Example sentence:
      On his last day at the company, Rick posted an angry 
manifesto on the bulletin board that outlined his reasons for 
leaving.

Did you know?
      "Manifesto" is related to "manifest," which occurs in 
English as a noun, verb, and adjective. Of these, the adjective, 
which means "readily perceived by the senses" or "easily 
recognized," is oldest, dating to the 14th century. 
Both "manifest" and "manifesto" derive ultimately from the Latin 
noun "manus" ("hand") and "-festus," a combining form that is 
related to the Latin adjective "infestus," meaning "hostile." 
Something that is manifest is easy to perceive or recognize, and 
a "manifesto" is a statement in which someone makes his or her 
intentions or views easy for people to ascertain. Perhaps the 
most famous statement of this sort is the Communist Manifesto, 
written in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to outline the 
(Continue reading)


Gmane