word | 1 Sep 06:59 2004

eminently

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The Word of the Day for September 1 is:

eminently   \EM-ih-nunt-lee\   adverb 
     : to a high degree : very 

Example sentence:
     One glance at Emily's accomplished resume, and the 
interviewer knew she was eminently qualified for the job.

Did you know?
     When British physician Tobias Venner wrote in 1620 of 
houses "somewhat eminently situated," he used "eminently" in a 
way that now seems unusual. Venner meant that the houses were 
literally located in a high place. That lofty use of "eminently" 
has since slipped into obsolescence, but it stands out as a 
clear pointer to the ancestors of the word. "Eminently" traces 
to the Latin term "eminere," which means "to stand out." In its first 
documented English uses in the 15th century, the term 
meant "conspicuously," but that sense, like the elevated one we 
mentioned earlier, is now obsolete. The figurative sense for 
which the word is best known today began appearing in English 
texts in the mid-1600s.

(Continue reading)

word | 2 Sep 06:59 2004

predilection

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The Word of the Day for September 2 is: 

predilection   \preh-duh-LEK-shun\   noun
     : an established preference for something 

Example sentence:
     Though Bella lived in the mountains she was partial to the 
sea, a predilection that led her to spend two weeks each 
September at a small cottage on the shore.

Did you know?
      Do you have a predilection for words whose histories 
conjure up colorful images of Wild West heroes, medieval knaves, 
Arabian princes, and intemperate gods, or are words with 
straightforward Latin roots more your style? If you favor the 
latter, you'll love "predilection." It comes to us through 
French, but it's based on the combination of the Latin "prae-" 
and "diligere" (meaning "to love"). Together they 
form "praediligere," a Latin verb meaning "to love more" or "to 
prefer." "Diligere" is also the root of English "diligent" and 
is based on the Latin verb "legere," which means "to gather" 
or "to read."  That versatile root is itself the source of many 
other familiar English words, including "legend," "collect," 
"lesson," "sacrilege," and "legume."
(Continue reading)

word | 3 Sep 06:59 2004

glitch

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The Word of the Day for September 3 is: 

glitch   \GLITCH\   noun
     1 : a usually minor malfunction, defect, fault, flaw, or 
imperfection 
     2 : a minor problem that causes a temporary setback
    *3 : a false or spurious electronic signal

Example sentence:
     A glitch in the program yielded some very odd results.

Did you know?
     There's a glitch in the etymology of "glitch" -- the 
origins of the word are not known for sure, though it may derive 
from the Yiddish "glitsh," meaning "slippery place." The first 
documented use of "glitch" in print in English is found in 
astronaut John Glenn's 1962 book _Into Orbit_. In it he 
wrote, "Literally, a glitch is a spike or change in voltage in 
an electrical circuit which takes place when the circuit 
suddenly has a new load put on it." The word "glitch" began as a 
technical term, and then quickly acquired a more general sense 
of "minor malfunction." Later, it came to be used technically 
once again to describe the misbehavior of computer programs.

(Continue reading)

word | 4 Sep 06:59 2004

transmogrify

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The Word of the Day for September 4 is:

transmogrify   \transs-MAH-gruh-fye\   verb
     : to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or 
humorous effect

Example sentence:
     The movie's central character finds an odd-looking pair of 
glasses and is transmogrified into a heroic crime-fighter when 
he puts them on.

Did you know?
     We know that the prefix "trans-" means "across" or "beyond" 
and appears in many words that evoke change, such as "transform" 
and "transpire," but we don't know the exact origins 
of "transmogrify." The 17th-century dramatist, novelist, and 
poet Aphra Behn, who is regarded as England's first female 
professional writer, was among the first English authors to use 
the word. In her 1671 comic play "The Amorous Prince" Behn 
wrote, "I wou'd Love would transmogriphy me to a maid now." A 
century later, Scottish poet Robert Burns plied the word again 
in verse, aptly capturing the grotesque and sometimes humorous 
effect of transmogrification: "Social life and Glee sit 
down,... Till, quite transmugrify'd, they're grown Debauchery 
(Continue reading)

word | 5 Sep 06:59 2004

zeitgeber

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The Word of the Day for September 5 is:

zeitgeber   \TSYTE-gay-ber\   noun
     : an environmental agent or event (as the occurrence of 
light or dark) that provides the stimulus setting or resetting a 
biological clock of an organism

Example sentence:
     Light is known to be a zeitgeber that helps to keep both 
plants and animals on their normal daily and seasonal schedules.

Did you know?
     Zeitgebers are nature's alarm clocks -- both biologically 
and etymologically. The word "zeitgeber" derives from a 
combination of two German terms, "Zeit," which means "time," 
and "Geber," which means "giver," so a "zeitgeber" is literally 
a "time giver." In nature, zeitgebers tend to be cyclic or 
reoccurring patterns that help keep the body's circadian rhythms 
operating in an orderly way. For plants and animals, the daily 
pattern of light and darkness and the warmer and colder 
temperatures between day and night serve as zeitgebers, cues 
that keep organisms functioning on a regular schedule. For 
humans, societally imposed cycles, such as the schedule of the 
work or school day and regular mealtimes, can become zeitgebers 
(Continue reading)

word | 6 Sep 06:59 2004

travail

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The Word of the Day for September 6 is:

travail   \truh-VAIL\   noun
     1 a : work especially of a painful or laborious nature : 
toil  b : a physical or mental exertion or piece of work : task, 
effort  *c : agony, torment
     2 : labor, parturition

Example sentence:
     "Increasingly, African-American women writers are telling 
of the specific travails that that history imposed upon their 
foremothers." (Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, _Oxford Review_, February 
1992)

Did you know?
     Etymologists are pretty certain that "travail" comes 
from "trepalium," the Late Latin name of an instrument of 
torture. We don't know exactly what a "trepalium" looked like, 
but the word's history gives us an idea. "Trepalium" is derived 
from the Latin "tripalis," which means "having three stakes" 
(from "tri-," meaning "three," and "palus," meaning "stake"). 
From "trepalium" sprang the Anglo-French verb "travailler," 
which originally meant "to torment" but eventually acquired the 
milder senses "to labor" and "to journey." The shift in meaning 
(Continue reading)

word | 7 Sep 06:59 2004

vacuous

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The Word of the Day for September 7 is: 

vacuous   \VAK-yuh-wus\   adjective
     1 : emptied of or lacking content 
   *2 : marked by lack of ideas or intelligence : stupid, inane
     3 : devoid of serious occupation : idle

Example sentence: 
     Alyssa was told that her blind date was well-read and 
articulate, so she was disappointed to discover that he was a 
vacuous bore.

Did you know?
     As you might have guessed, "vacuous" shares the same root 
as "vacuum" -- the Latin adjective "vacuus," meaning "empty." 
This root also gave us the noun "vacuity" (the oldest meaning of 
which is "an empty space") as well as the verb "evacuate" 
(originally "to remove the contents of; empty"). Its 
predecessor, the verb "vacare," is also an ancestor of the 
words "vacation" and "vacancy" as well as "void." All of these 
words suggest an emptiness of space, or else a fleeing of people 
or things from one place to another. "Vacuous" first appeared in 
English in the middle of the 17th century, literally describing 
something that was empty, but then acquired its figurative 
(Continue reading)

word | 8 Sep 06:59 2004

divers

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The Word of the Day for September 8 is:

divers   \DYE-verz\   adjective 
     : various 

Example sentence: 
     "He is ... descended from the issue of Dudleys who managed 
to escape Bloody Mary's ax as well as the divers other perils of 
Tudor England." (Christopher Buckley, _Architectural Digest_, 
April 1989)

Did you know?
     Did you think we had misspelled "diverse"? We 
didn't! "Divers" is a word in its own right, albeit a fairly 
formal and uncommon one. Both words come from Latin "diversus," 
meaning "turning in opposite directions," and until around 1700 
they were pretty much interchangeable -- both meant "various" 
and could be pronounced as either DYE-verz (like the plural of 
the noun "diver") or dye-VERS. Since then, however, "divers" 
(now DYE-verz) has come to emphasize multiplicity. It 
means "several" or "of an indefinite number greater than one" 
(as in "on divers occasions"). "Diverse" (now dye-VERS) 
emphasizes uniqueness. It means "unlike" (as in "a variety of 
activities to appeal to the children's diverse interests") 
(Continue reading)

word | 9 Sep 06:59 2004

sciential

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The Word of the Day for September 9 is: 

sciential   \sye-EN-shul\   adjective
    *1 : relating to or producing knowledge or science 
     2 : having efficient knowledge : capable

Example sentence:
     Of the value of having a library at hand for a liberal 
education, Coleridge wrote: "There is no way of arriving at any 
sciential end but by finding it at every step." 

Did you know?
     You might expect "sciential," which derives from 
Latin "scientia" (meaning "knowledge"), to be used mostly in 
technical papers and descriptions of scientific experiments. In 
truth, however, "sciential" has long been a favorite of 
playwrights and poets. It appears in the works of Ben Jonson, 
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and John Keats, among others. Keats 
made particularly lyrical use of it in his narrative 
poem "Lamia," which depicts a doomed love affair between the 
Greek sorceress Lamia and a human named Lycius. In the poem, 
Hermes transforms Lamia from a serpent into a beautiful 
woman, "Not one hour old, yet of sciential brain."

(Continue reading)

word | 10 Sep 06:59 2004

whinge

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The Word of the Day for September 10 is:

whinge   \ WINJ\   verb
     British : to complain fretfully : whine

Example sentence;
     She urged her fellow workers to stop whinging about how 
they were victims of  "the system" and to do something to change 
that system. 

Did you know?
     "Whinge" isn't just a spelling variant of "whine." They are 
actually entirely different words with different 
histories. "Whine" traces to an Old English verb, "hwinan," 
which means "to make a humming or whirring sound." When "hwinan" 
became "whinen" in Middle English, it meant "to wail 
distressfully"; "whine" didn't acquire its "complain" sense 
until the 16th century. "Whinge," on the other hand, comes from 
a different Old English verb, "hwinsian," which means "to wail 
or moan discontentedly." "Whinge" retains that original sense 
today, though nowadays "whinge" puts less emphasis on the sound 
of the complaining and more on the discontentment behind the 
complaint.

(Continue reading)


Gmane