1 Jul 2004 06:59

### aphelion

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The Word of the Day for July 1 is:

aphelion   \af-EEL-yun\   noun
: the point in the path of a celestial body (as a planet)
that is farthest from the sun

Example sentence:
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you might expect
the earth to be closest to the sun in July, but in fact it is at
aphelion then.

Did you know?
"Aphelion" and "perihelion" are troublesome terms. Which
one means a planet is nearest the sun and which means it is
straight. Just remember that the "ap" of "aphelion" derives from
a New Latin prefix that means "away from" (the mnemonic "'A'
for 'away'" can help too); "peri-," on the other hand,
means "near." And how are "aphelion" and "perihelion" related to
the similar-looking astronomical pair, "apogee" and "perigee"?
Etymology explains again. "Aphelion" and "perihelion" are based
on the Greek word "helios," meaning "sun," while "apogee"
and "perigee" are based on "gaia," meaning "earth." The first
pair describes distance in relation to the sun, the second in


2 Jul 2004 06:59

### firework

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The Word of the Day for July 2 is:

firework   \FYRE-werk\   noun
1 : a device for producing a striking display by the
combustion of explosive or flammable compositions
2 plural : a display of fireworks
3 plural  *a : a display of temper or intense conflict  b :
a spectacular display

Example sentence:
"More [divorcing] couples are considering mediation ...
rather than hiring two lawyers who fight it out for their
clients. The potential benefits are lower costs and
fewer fireworks." (Mary Rowland, _The New York Times_, January
15, 1995)

Did you know?
The word "fireworks" burst upon the scene in the 1500s as a
reference to military explosives (a sense that is now obsolete).
These explosives were originally used as weapons, of course, but
soon they were also being used in pyrotechnic displays
celebrating victory or peace. By 1575 people were oohing and
aahing over "fireworks shewed upon the water; the which were
both strange and wel executed." Figurative uses have been


3 Jul 2004 06:59

### primordial

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The Word of the Day for July 3 is:

*1 a : first created or developed : primeval  b : existing
in or persisting from the beginning (as of a solar system or
universe)  c : earliest formed in the growth of an individual or
organ : primitive
2 : fundamental, primary

Example sentence:
Theorists hold that the oceans and lakes of the early Earth
served as a vast primordial soup whose rich blend of organic
compounds nourished the first living organisms.

Did you know?
The history of "primordial" began when the Latin
words "primus" (meaning "first") and "ordiri" (meaning "to
begin") came together to form "primordium," the Latin word
for "origin." When it entered English in the 14th
century, "primordial" was used in the general sense "primeval or
primitive." Early on, there were hints that "primordial" would
lend itself well to discussions of the earth's origins. Take,
for instance, this passage from a 1398 translation of an
encyclopedia called _On the Properties of Things_: "The virtu of


4 Jul 2004 06:59

### comity

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The Word of the Day for July 4 is:

comity   \KAH-muh-tee\   noun
1 *a : friendly social atmosphere : social harmony  b : a
loose widespread community based on common social institutions
c : comity of nations
2 : avoidance of proselytizing members of another religious
denomination

Example sentence:
"A proper system of government, ... if it be founded in
reason and comity, will be more likely to nourish in the minds
of our youth the combined spirit of order and self-respect."
(Thomas Jefferson, "Report of the Commissioners for the
University of Virginia," August 4, 1818)

Did you know?
"Our country soweth also in the field of our breasts many
precious seeds, as ... honest behavior, affability, comity,"
wrote English clergyman Thomas Becon in 1543. Becon's use is the
earliest documented appearance of "comity" -- a word derived
from the Latin "comitas," meaning "courteousness" (and probably
related to the Sanskrit word for "he smiles"). "Comity" is
largely used in political and judicial contexts. Since


5 Jul 2004 06:59

### grandee

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The Word of the Day for July 5 is:

grandee   \gran-DEE\   noun
: a man of elevated rank or station

Example sentence:
When he returned home from the fund-raiser, Stephen
couldn't help bragging a little about all the political grandees
he'd met.

Did you know?
In Medieval Spain and Portugal the "grandes" ("great ones")
were at the pinnacle of the ranks of nobles, rich and powerful.
A grandee (as it came to be spelled in English) could wear a hat
in the presence of the king and queen -- the height of
privilege -- and he alone could address a letter directly to
royalty. (Even Christopher Columbus had to direct his reports of
the New World to an important noble at court, who read them to
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.) Today, although the term is
still applied to grandees of the blue-blooded sort, they are few
and far between, and the title can be used for anyone of
importance and influence anywhere (such as the "pin-striped
grandees of London's financial district").



6 Jul 2004 06:59

### fructify

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The Word of the Day for July 6 is:

fructify   \FRUK-tuh-fye\   verb
*1: to bear fruit
2: to make fruitful or productive

Example sentence:
Fred is in a comfortable financial position these days,
thanks to some investments that have recently begun to fructify.

Did you know?
"Fructify" derives from the Middle English "fructifien" and
ultimately from the Latin noun "fructus," meaning "fruit." When
the word was first used in English in the 14th century, it
literally referred to the actions of plants that bore fruit;
later it was used transitively to refer to the action of making
something fruitful, such as soil. The word also expanded to
encompass a figurative sense of "fruit," and it is now more
frequently used to refer to the giving forth of something in
profit from something else (such as dividends from an
investment). "Fructus" also gave us the name of the
sugar "fructose," as well as "usufruct," which refers to the
legal right to enjoy the fruits or profits of something that
belongs to someone else.


7 Jul 2004 06:59

### incommensurable

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The Word of the Day for July 7 is:

: not commensurable;  broadly : lacking a basis of
comparison in respect to a quality normally subject to comparison

Example sentence:
"Our anxieties for you and Margaret and my anxieties for
the success of my book ... are two so incommensurable things
that they ought not of right to be brought together in one
letter." (Robert Frost, _Letters_)

Did you know?
"Commensurable" means "having a common measure"
or "corresponding in size, extent, amount, or degree." Its
antonym "incommensurable" generally refers to things that are
unlike and incompatible, sharing no common ground (as
in "incommensurable theories"), or to things that are very
disproportionate, often to the point of defying comparison
("incommensurable crimes"). Both words entered English in the
1500s and were originally used (as they still can be) for
numbers that have or don't have a common divisor. They came to
English by way of Middle French and Late Latin, ultimately
deriving from Latin "mensura," meaning "measure." "Mensura" is


8 Jul 2004 06:59

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The Word of the Day for July 8 is:

: lacking life, spirit, or zest : languid

Example sentence:
Disgusted by his team's performance during their losing
streak, the coach gave a lecture scolding them for their

Did you know?
Alas, alack, there are times when life seems to be one
unfortunate occurrence after another. We've all had days when
nothing seemed to go right. When folks had one of those days
back in the 17th century, they'd cry "Lackaday" to express their
sorrow and disappointment. "Lackaday" was a shortened form of
the expression "alack the day." In the mid-
suffix "-ical." The word "lackadaisy" also saw usage around that
time as an interjection similar to "lackaday," and this word,
though never as prevalent as "lackaday," might have influenced



9 Jul 2004 06:59

### haywire

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The Word of the Day for July 9 is:

*1 : being out of order or having gone wrong
2 : emotionally or mentally upset or out of control

Example sentence:
The TV goes haywire every time we use the blender.

Did you know?
The wire used in bailing hay -- haywire -- is often used in
makeshift repairs. This hurried and temporary use of haywire
first used in the early 20th century, it was primarily in the
phrase "haywire outfit," which denoted originally a poorly
equipped group of loggers and then anything that was flimsy or
patched together. This led to a "hastily patched-up" sense,
which, in turn, gave us the more commonly used meaning, "being
out of order or having gone wrong." The "crazy" sense
of "haywire" may have been suggested by the difficulty of
handling the springy wire, its tendency to get tangled around
legs, or the disorderly appearance of the temporary repair jobs
for which it was used.



10 Jul 2004 06:59

### commensal

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The Word of the Day for July 10 is:

1 : of or relating to those who habitually eat together
*2 : living in a relationship in which one organism obtains
food or other benefits from another without damaging or
benefiting it

Example sentence:
The commensal pearlfish can be found inside the sea
cucumber, nibbling on the internal organs of the host (which,
fortunately, has a unique capacity to regrow its internal
anatomy).

Did you know?
Commensal types, be they human or beast, often "break
bread" together. When they do, they are reflecting the etymology
of "commensal," which derives from the Latin prefix "com-,"
meaning "with, together, jointly" and the Latin
adjective "mensalis," meaning "of the table." In its earliest
English uses, "commensal" referred to people who ate together,
but around 1870, biologists started using it for organisms that
have no use for a four-piece table setting. Since then, the
scientific sense has almost completely displaced the dining one.