Word of the Day 


eloquent 
  
adjective
1 : marked by forceful and fluent expression

2 : vividly or movingly expressive or revealing

Examples:

Because Max is such an eloquent speaker, he was asked to give the toast at his grandfather’s 75th birthday party.
“The governor waxed eloquent about growing up just a short distance away in Queens and what this part of the world meant to him.” — Fred LeBrun, The Times-Union (Albany, New York), 15 Nov. 2015

Did you know?

Since eloquent can have something to do with speaking, it makes sense that it comes from the Latin verb loqui, which means “to speak.” Loqui is the parent of many “talkative” offspring in English. Loquacious, which means “given to fluent or excessive talk,” also arose from loqui. Another loqui relative is circumlocution, a word that means someone is talking around a subject to avoid making a direct statement (circum- means “around”). And a ventriloquist is someone who makes his or her voice sound like it’s coming from another source.

Word of the Day 


limn 
  
verb
1 : to draw or paint on a surface

2 : to outline in clear sharp detail : delineate
3 : describe
Examples:

In his Leatherstocking tales, James Fenimore Cooper limns the frontier adventures of wilderness scout Natty Bumppo.
“More than 120 objects [in the museum exhibit] limn the achievements of the Andean empire in the 15th and 16th centuries.” — Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe, 16 Aug. 2015

Did you know?

Allow us to shed some light on the history of limn, a word with lustrous origins. Limn traces to the Anglo-French verb enluminer and ultimately to the Latin illuminare, which means “to illuminate.” Its use as an English verb dates from the days of Middle English; at first, limn referred to the action of illuminating (that is, decorating) medieval manuscripts with gold, silver, or brilliant colors. William Shakespeare extended the term to painting in his poem Venus and Adonis: “Look when a painter would surpass the life / In limning out a well-proportioned steed….” Soon after, limn began to be used as a word for illustrating or giving detail without a paintbrush.

Word of the Day 


chirography 
  
1 : handwriting, penmanship

2 : calligraphy
Examples:

“This envelope had the air of an official record of some period long past, when clerks engrossed their stiff and formal chirography on more substantial materials than at present.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1850

“The stone bore confusing etchings: Arabic numerals coupled with Roman; the letter ‘H’ in ancient Spanish chirography; a puzzling mass of ovoid figures, circles and rectangles; and the weblike drawing that gave it its name.” — Evan Moore, The Houston Chronicle, 6 May 2001

Did you know?

Though some might argue that handwriting is a dying art in the age of electronic communication, this fancy word for it persists. The root graph means “writing” and appears in many common English words such as autograph and graphite. The lesser-known root chir, or chiro-, comes from a Greek word meaning “hand” and occurs in words such as chiromancy (“the art of palm reading”) and enchiridion (“a handbook or manual”), as well as chiropractic. Chirography first appeared in English in the 17th century and probably derived from chirograph, a now rare word referring to any of various legal documents. Chirography should not be confused with choreography, which refers to the composition and arrangement of dances.


procrastinate
  
verb
1 : to put off intentionally and habitually

2 : to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

Examples:

Somehow, despite procrastinating, Melody managed to hand her assignment in on time.
“You won’t achieve [financial fitness] overnight or by happenstance, but by making responsible decisions on a daily basis, working hard and adhering to a well-crafted plan. You also won’t achieve it if you let time constraints get in the way, or you procrastinate.” — Odysseas Papadimitriou, U.S. News & World Report, 3 Dec. 2015

Did you know?

We won’t put off telling you about the origins of procrastinate. English speakers borrowed the word in the 16th century from Latin procrastinatus, which itself evolved from the prefix pro-, meaning “forward,” and crastinus, meaning “of tomorrow.” Like its synonyms delay, lag, loiter, dawdle, and dally, procrastinate means to move or act slowly so as to fall behind. It typically implies blameworthy delay especially through laziness or apathy.

Word of the Day 


mugwump 
  
noun
1 : a bolter from the Republican party in 1884

2 : a person who is independent (as in politics) or who remains undecided or neutral

Examples:

“[Woodrow] Wilson was representative of a moderate progressivism that existed in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early part of this one. He was a mugwump reacting negatively to the new, industrialist class, but maintaining a strong belief in the triumph of American ideals and progress.” — Hans Vought, The Journal of American Ethnic History, Spring 1994

“Most journalists are mugwumps, though you might not know it from the way we are often described as ideological warriors salivating over opportunities to pursue foes.” — Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Apr. 2014

Did you know?

Mugwump is an anglicized version of a word used by Massachusett Indians to mean “war leader.” The word was sometimes jestingly applied in early America to someone who was the “head guy.” The first political mugwumps were Republicans in the presidential race of 1884 who chose to support Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland rather than their own party’s nominee. Their independence prompted one 1930s humorist to define a mugwump as “a bird who sits with its mug on one side of the fence and its wump on the other.”


shibboleth  

noun
1 : catchword, slogan

2 : a widely held belief or truism

3 : a custom or usage regarded as distinctive of a particular group

Examples:

The town’s name is a shibboleth: locals know its pronunciation does not reflect its French spelling but others use the Gallic pronunciation of the more famous European city.
“For Gorbachev, schooled in the rusty shibboleths of party ideology, the West was intent on destroying the Soviet Union.” — Vladimir Tismaneanu, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 12 Nov. 2015

Did you know?

The Bible’s Book of Judges (12:4-6) tells the story of the Ephraimites, who, after they were routed by the Gileadite army, tried to retreat by sneaking across a ford of the Jordan River that was held by their enemy. The Gileadites, wary of the ploy, asked every soldier who tried to cross if he was an Ephraimite. When the soldier said no, he was asked to say shibbōleth (which means “stream” in Hebrew). Gileadites pronounced the word “shibboleth,” but Ephramites said “sibboleth.” Anyone who left out the initial “sh” was killed on the spot. When English speakers first borrowed shibboleth, they used it to mean “test phrase,” but it has acquired additional meanings since that time.


uxorial 
  

: of, relating to, or characteristic of a wife

Examples:

“He watered the plants, cleared aspen leaves and debris from the rock garden, and cut the lawn … without any uxorial prompting.” — Rois M. Beal, The Washington Post, 19 July 2007

“… the opera was ‘Bluebeard’s Castle,’ a work based on the French fairy tale of a duke who murders his wives and hides their bodies in his foreboding fortress. It’s an uxorial horror story of the highest caliber….” — Kim Carpenter, The Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald, 20 Apr. 2013

Did you know?

With help from -ial, -ious, and -icide, the Latin word uxor, meaning “wife,” has given us the English words uxorial, uxorious (meaning “excessively fond of or submissive to a wife”), and uxoricide (“murder of a wife by her husband” or “a wife murderer”). Do we have equivalent “husband” words? Well, sort of. Maritus means “husband” in Latin, so marital can mean “of or relating to a husband and his role in marriage” (although maritus also means “married,” and the “of or relating to marriage or the married state” sense of marital is far more common). And while mariticide is “spouse killing,” it can also be specifically “husband-killing.”

Word of the Day 


reticulate 
  
adjective
1 : resembling a net or network

2 : being or involving evolutionary change dependent on genetic recombination involving diverse interbreeding populations

Examples:

The lizard had a reticulate pattern of markings on its back.
“In the first decade of this century, though, I sensed a change in the structure of the art world, from a hierarchical pattern to a reticulate one, from a tree to a web.” — William Warmus, The Utne Reader, Fall 2015

Did you know?

Though reticulate is used in many contexts, it finds particular use in the field of biology. Reticulate comes from the Latin word reticulum, meaning “small net.” It first appeared in English in the mid-1600s and was used in connection with the study of plants even back then. Scientists use reticulate to describe a net-like formation of veins, fibers, or lines that crosses something. For example, a leaf with a pattern of veins that resembles a net would be called a “reticulate leaf.” In the early 20th century, scientists also began using the word to describe evolutionary lineages that become interwoven through hybridization.

Word of the Day 


wormhole 
  
noun
1 : a hole or passage burrowed by a worm

2 : a hypothetical structure of space-time envisioned as a long thin tunnel connecting points that are separated in space and time

Examples:

Some science fiction writers speculate that wormholes will become the intergalactic highways of the future.
“Sci-fi fans who hope humanity can one day zoom to distant corners of the universe via wormholes, as astronauts do in the recent film ‘Interstellar,’ shouldn’t hold their breath.” — Mike Wall, Space.com, 24 Nov. 2014

Did you know?

If you associate wormhole with quantum physics and sci-fi, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that the word has been around since Shakespeare’s day—although, admittedly, he used it more literally than most modern writers. To Shakespeare, a wormhole was simply a hole made by a worm, a more down-to-earth sense which is still used today. But even the Bard subtly linked wormholes to the passage of time; for example, in The Rape of Lucrece, he notes time’s destructive power “to fill with worm-holes stately monuments.” To modern astrophysicists, a wormhole isn’t a tunnel wrought by a slimy invertebrate but a theoretical tunnel between two black holes or other points in space-time, providing a shortcut between its end points.

Word of the Day 


petulant 
  
adjective
1 : insolent or rude in speech or behavior

2 : characterized by temporary or capricious ill humor : peevish
Examples:

Uncle Harold is a petulant and fussy man who is always blaming everyone else for his problems.
“… this bunch doesn’t care about being reasonable or meeting opposing views halfway. Like petulant toddlers, they want it all right now or they’ll throw a tantrum.” — Kevin Foley, The Marietta (Georgia) Daily Journal, 16 Oct. 2015

Did you know?

Petulant is one of many English words that are related to the Latin verb petere, which means “to go to,” “to attack,” “to seek,” or “to request.” Petere is a relative of the Latin adjective petulans (“impudent”), from which petulant was derived. Some other words with connections to petere are compete and appetite. Competere, the Late Latin precursor to compete, is a combination of the prefix com- and the verb petere. The joining of ad- and petere led to appetere (“to strive after”), and eventually to Latin appetitus, the source of our appetite. Additional descendants of petere are petition, perpetual, and impetus.