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Posts tagged: A Word A Day

A Word A Day — carminative

Good evening, Netizens…

March 16, 2013

Word of the Day

  • carminative
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kahr-MIN-uh-tive\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: expelling gas from the stomach or intestines so as to relieve flatulence or abdominal pain or distension
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Fennel is a carminative herb that helps alleviate gas after a spicy meal.

“Cumin seeds contain numerous phyto-chemicals that are known to have antioxidant, carminative and anti-flatulent properties, and are also an excellent source of dietary fibre.” — From an article in Facts For You, May 5, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

In times gone by, human personalities were believed to be controlled by four humors: blood, phlegm, choler (yellow bile), and melancholy (black vile). Though this belief was long ago discredited, its influence lingers on in the English language. When “carminative” came into use in the 15th-century medical field, carminative agents were thought to be effective because they influenced the humors. The word comes from Latin “carrere,” meaning “to card,” referring to the act of cleansing or disentangling. This history reflects the theory that certain humors could be “combed out” like knots in wool.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — voracious

Good evening Netizens…

March 15, 2013

Word of the Day

  • voracious
  • audio pronunciation
  • \vaw-RAY-shus\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: having a huge appetite : ravenous
2
: excessively eager : insatiable
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Cemal is a voracious reader who whips through three or four books each week.

“Hundreds of Humboldt squid washed up on Santa Cruz County beaches Sunday in a mass stranding that is not uncommon but remains somewhat of a mystery to marine scientists. The even more intriguing question, they say, is why the voracious feeders, also called jumbo flying squid, began venturing up to the Central Coast in 2000 from the Sea of Cortez and other warmer spots—and what their effect is on the ocean environment.” — From an article by Cathy Kelly in Contra Costa Times, December 11, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Voracious” is one of several English words that derive from the Latin verb “vorare,” which means “to eat greedily” or “to devour.” “Vorare” is also an ancestor of “devour” and of the “-ivorous” words that describe the diets of various animals. These include “carnivorous” (“meat-eating”), “herbivorous” (“plant-eating”), “omnivorous” (“feeding on both animals and plants”), “frugivorous” (“fruit-eating”), “graminivorous” (“feeding on grass”), and “piscivorous” (“fish-eating”).

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — quirk

Good evening, Netizens…

March 14, 2013

Word of the Day

  • quirk
  • audio pronunciation
  • \KWERK\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

: curve, twist
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“She was surprised by the humor that quirked his fine straight lips.” — From Elizabeth George Speare's 1958 book The Witch of Blackbird Pond

“Refusing to relinquish his own control in Jacksonville, Elvis created the familiar hysteria by surprise moves—standing stock-still and quirking his index finger to mimic the Elvis gyration.” — From Bobbie Ann Mason's 2007 book Elvis Presley: A Life

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Did you expect “quirk” to be a noun meaning “a peculiarity of action or behavior”? If so, you're probably not alone; the “peculiarity” sense of the noun “quirk” is commonly known and has been a part of our language since the 17th century. But “quirk” has long worn other hats in English, too. The sense meaning “a curve, turn, or twist” has named everything from curving pen marks on paper (i.e., flourishes) to witty turns of phrase to the vagaries or twists of fate. In contemporary English, the verb “quirk” is most often used in referring to facial expressions, especially those that involve crooked smiles or furrowed eyebrows.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — behemoth

Good evening, Netizens

March 13, 2013

Word of the Day

  • behemoth
  • audio pronunciation
  • \bih-HEE-muth\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: something of monstrous size, power, or appearance
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The town has voted against letting the retail behemoth build a store on the proposed site.

“Interviews with an array of industry veterans … outline how Fairchild and the companies it spawned both developed the technologies and established the business and financial cultures that would eventually produce behemoths like Apple and Google.” — From a television review by Mike Hale in The New York Times, February 5, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The original “behemoth” was biblical; it designated a mysterious river-dwelling beast in the Book of Job. Based on that description, scholars have concluded that the biblical behemoth was probably inspired by a hippopotamus, but details about the creature's exact nature were vague. The word first passed from the Hebrew into Late Latin, where, according to English poet and monk John Lydgate, writing in 1430, it “playne expresse[d] a beast rude full of cursednesse.” In English, “behemoth” was eventually applied more generally to anything large and powerful.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — piggyback

Good evening, Netizens…

March 12, 2013

Word of the Day

  • piggyback
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PIG-ee-bak\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adverb

1
: up on the back and shoulders
2
: on or as if on the back of another; especially : on a railroad flatcar
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The youngest of the hikers had the advantage of riding piggyback through the muddy fields.

“Unfortunately, his footing wasn't as steady as he'd hoped, and he fell from the log.… He wasn't able to get himself up and had to be carried piggyback from the scene.” — From a television show review by on HuffingtonPost.com, January 28, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Have you ever wondered where the porcine part of “piggyback” comes from? Well, it's not from the pigs themselves. The adverb “piggyback” likely began as “a pick pack.” Another early form of the word is “pickback,” evidence of which can be found in the still-extant variant “pickaback.” The adverb “piggyback” dates to the mid-16th century, and the noun—referring to an act of carrying piggyback—was in use by the end of that same century. The adjective “piggyback,” as in “piggyback ride,” didn't enter the language until the 18th century, and the now-common verb “piggyback” didn't piggyback on the others until the late 19th century.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — cajole

Good evening, Netizens…

March 11, 2013

Word of the Day

  • cajole
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kuh-JOHL\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
a : to persuade with flattery or gentle urging : coax b : to obtain from someone by gentle persuasion
2
: to deceive with soothing words or false promises
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Brianna was able to cajole some money from her father before leaving for the movies.

“Walking across Niagara Falls on a high wire is supposed to be hard; that's the point of doing it. But after nearly a year of cajoling, pressuring and outright begging for legal permission to cross the scenic gorge between Canada and the United States, Wallenda is coming face to face with the practical challenges of fulfilling his lifelong dream.” — From an article by Charlie Gillis at Macleans.ca, May 25, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
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“Cajole” comes from a French verb, “cajoler,” which has the same meaning as the English word. You might not think to associate “cajole” with “cage,” but some etymologists theorize that “cajoler” is connected to not one but two words for “cage.” One of them is the Anglo-French word “cage,” from which we borrowed our own “cage.” It comes from Latin “cavea,” meaning “cage.” The other is the Anglo-French word for “birdcage,” which is “gaiole.” It's an ancestor of our word “jail,” and it derives from Late Latin “caveola,” which means “little cage.” Anglo-French speakers had a related verb, “gaioler,” which meant “to chatter like a jay in a cage.” It's possible that “cajoler” is a combination of “gaioler” and “cage.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — relict

Good morning, Netizens…

March 10, 2013

Word of the Day

  • relict
  • audio pronunciation
  • \REL-ikt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: a surviving species of an otherwise extinct group of organisms; also : a remnant of a formerly widespread species that persists in an isolated area
2
: something left unchanged
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

This rare plant is a relict of a once abundant genus.

“Northern flying squirrels still remain in the highest elevations of Virginia and are known as ice age relicts.” From an article by Judy Molnar, Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), June 6, 2010

  • DID YOU KNOW?
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The oldest English sense of “relict” is extinct—or at least obsolete. In the 16th century, “relict” meant “an object esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr,” but that meaning is now covered by “relic,” a related word that can also refer to something left behind after decay or disappearance. “Relict” was also used to refer to a widow at one time, but now that sense is more or less limited to legal uses. It seems fitting that “relict” has outdated senses; after all, it derives ultimately from the Latin verb “relinquere,” meaning “to leave behind.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — de rigeur

Good morning Netizens…

March 09, 2013

Word of the Day

  • de rigueur
  • audio pronunciation
  • \duh-ree-GUR\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: prescribed or required by fashion, etiquette, or custom : proper
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Although the teen was wearing a dinner jacket and a tie, his jeans and sneakers were hardly de rigueur for the formal occasion.

“'Wait, wait, wait! Put on my eyeglasses,' I insisted, substituting my mom's lightweight frames for the thick, big black ones that are de rigueur right now for many a bespectacled 20-something.” — From an article by Anthonia Akitunde in The Huffington Post, January 30, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

If you're invited to a ball or other social function and the invitation includes the French phrase “costume de rigueur,” you are expected to adhere to a very strict dress code—typically, a white tie and tails if you're a man and a floor-length evening gown if you're a woman. In French, “de rigueur” means “out of strictness” or “according to strict etiquette”; one definition of our word “rigor,” to which “rigueur” is related, is “the quality of being strict, unyielding, or inflexible.” In English, we tend to use “de rigueur” to describe a fashion or custom that is so commonplace within a context that it seems a prescribed, mandatory part of it.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — indoctrinate

Good afternoon, Netizens

March 08, 2013

Word of the Day

  • indoctrinate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \in-DAHK-truh-nayt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments : teach
2
: to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

New hires were indoctrinated with the company's philosophy during a two-day orientation.

“This is why sworn peace officers are indoctrinated not just in firearm use but in restraint.” — From an editorial in the San Antonio Express-News, January 23, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Indoctrinate” simply means “brainwash” to many people. But its meaning isn't always so negative. When this verb first appeared in English in the 17th century, it simply meant “to teach”—a meaning that followed logically from its Latin root. The “doc” in the middle of “indoctrinate” derives from the Latin verb “docēre,” which also means “to teach.” Other offspring of “docēre” include “docent” (referring to a college professor or a museum guide), “docile,” “doctor,” “doctrine,” and “document.” It was not until the 19th century that “indoctrinate” began to see regular use in the sense of causing someone to absorb and take on certain opinions or principles.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — gnomic

Good norning, Netizens…

March 07, 2013

Word of the Day

  • gnomic
  • audio pronunciation
  • \NOH-mik\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: characterized by aphorism
2
: given to the composition of aphoristic writing
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Some critics have praised the young artist's gnomic utterances, while others argue that her sayings are simply pretentious rubbish.

“The film is grand but complex, canny and sincere.… If Spielberg were more intellectual or more gnomic in discussing his films, he might be regarded not as a mass-market wizard but as a cult director.” — From a film review by Francine Stock in Prospect, January 24, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

A gnome is an aphorism—that is, an observation or sentiment reduced to the form of a saying. Gnomes are sometimes couched in metaphorical or figurative language, they are often quite clever, and they are always concise. We borrowed the word “gnome” in the 16th century from the Greeks, who based their “gnōmē” on the verb “gignōskein,” meaning “to know.” (That other “gnome”—the dwarf of folklore—comes from New Latin and is unrelated to today's word.) We began using “gnomic,” the adjective form of “gnome,” in the early 19th century. It describes a style of writing (or sometimes speech) characterized by pithy phrases, which are often terse to the point of mysteriousness.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — meritorius

Good morning, Netizens…

March 06, 2013

Word of the Day

  • meritorious
  • audio pronunciation
  • \mair-uh-TOR-ee-us\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: worthy of reward, gratitude, honor, or esteem
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Mrs. Goodman received the town's Meritorious Service Award for her untiring efforts to keep the library open.

“In February 2011, President Barack Obama bestowed upon [Stan] Musial the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, which recognizes individuals who have made 'an especially meritorious contribution to the security of national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.'” — From an article by John Jeansonne in Newsday (New York), January 20, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
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People who demonstrate meritorious behavior certainly “earn” our respect, and you can use that fact to remember that “meritorious” ultimately traces to the Latin verb “merēre,” which means “to earn.” Nowadays, the rewards earned for meritorious acts are likely to be of an immaterial nature: gratitude, admiration, praise, etc. But that wasn't always so. The history of “meritorious” recalls a reward more concrete in nature: money. The Latin word “meritorius,” an ancestor of the English “meritorious,” literally means “bringing in money.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — allusion

Good morning, Netizens…

March 05, 2013

Word of the Day

  • allusion
  • audio pronunciation
  • \uh-LOO-zhun\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: an implied or indirect reference especially in literature; also : the use of such references
2
: the act of making an indirect reference to something : the act of alluding to something
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The book's frequent literary allusions and high-flown turns of phrase made its narrative difficult to follow.

“Speaking with characteristic bluntness after his victory was announced, Mr. Zeman said he wanted to be the president of all the Czechs, but 'not of Godfather structures here,' an allusion to the country's problems with corruption.” — From an article by Dan Bilefsky in The New York Times, January 26, 2013

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  •  

“Allusion” was borrowed into English in the middle of the 16th century. It derives from the Latin verb “alludere,” meaning “to refer to, to play with, or to jest,” as does its cousin “allude,” meaning “to make indirect reference” or “to refer.” “Alludere,” in turn, derives from a combination of the prefix “ad-” and “ludere” (“to play”). “Ludere” is a Latin word that English speakers have enjoyed playing with over the years; we've used it to create “collude,” “delude,” “elude,” and “prelude,” just to name a few.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Words of the day — paltry

Good morning, Netizens…

March 04, 2013

Word of the Day

  • paltry
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PAWL-tree\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: inferior, trashy
2
: mean, despicable
3
: trivial
4
: meager, measly
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Anna told us she was tired of engaging in paltry work and longed to do something meaningful with her life.

“Monday, I tried to cheer up snow fans who have been frowning at Seattle's paltry 0.6” of snowfall this winter by stating that February has had its share of snowfall over the years.” — From a post by meteorologist Scott Sistek on KOMONews.com's weather blog, January 29, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Before “paltry” was an adjective, it was a noun meaning “trash.” That now obsolete noun in turn came from “palt” or “pelt,” dialect terms meaning “a piece of coarse cloth,” or broadly, “trash.” The adjective “paltry” first meant “trashy,” but it currently has a number of senses, all generally meaning “no good.” A “paltry house” might be run-down and unfit for occupancy; a “paltry trick” is a trick that is low-down and dirty; a “paltry excuse” is a trivial one; and a “paltry sum” is small and insufficient.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Words of the day — abandon

Good morning, Netizens…

March 03, 2013

Word of the Day

  • abandon
  • audio pronunciation
  • \uh-BAN-dun\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: a thorough yielding to natural impulses; especially : enthusiasm, exuberance
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

We chased one another through the snow, hurling snowballs with complete abandon.

“He slid head first, dived for balls, threw runners out, stole home against the Phillies, played with the sort of reckless abandon that endeared him to fans in Washington.” — From an article by Ed Graney in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, December 30, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The sense of “abandon” defined above is a relative newcomer to the English language, dating from the early 1800s, but the noun itself is about 200 years older, having been first used in the 1600s in the sense of “the act of abandoning.” The earlier sense was influenced by the verb “abandon,” which was borrowed by Middle English in the 1300s from Anglo-French “abandoner.” The Anglo-French term in turn came from the phrase “(mettre) a bandun,” meaning “to hand over” or “put in someone's control.” The newer sense has been more directly influenced by French “abandon,” which means not only “abandonment or surrender,” but also “freedom from constraint.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — thimblerig

Good morning, Netizens…

March 02, 2013

Word of the Day

  • thimblerig
  • audio pronunciation
  • \THIM-bul-rig\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: to cheat by trickery
2
: to swindle by a trick in which a small ball or pea is quickly shifted from under one to another of three small cups to fool the spectator guessing its location
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The appraiser looked closely at the painting and then reluctantly told us that we had been thimblerigged into buying a worthless copy.

Thimblerigging the market was such an accepted practice some traders were even taunted for not stealing enough.” — From Leah McGrath Goodman's 2011 book The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World's Oil Market

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The game of thimblerig seems innocent enough. The thimblerigger places a little ball, pea, or other small object under one of three thimbles or cups. He or she deftly scoots the cups around on a table, then asks the player to bet on which one hides the object. But thimbleriggers are masters of sleight of hand and can move and manipulate the object unfairly—so the guileless player doesn't stand a chance of winning. (The poor bettor is probably unaware that “rig” has meant “to manipulate or control usually by deceptive or dishonest means” since the 1800s.) When the same sham is played with nutshells, it's called a “shell game,” and there's a related game played with cards known as “three-card monte.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — tchotchke

Good evening, Netizens…

February 28, 2013

Words of the Day

  • tchotchke
  • audio pronunciation
  • \CHAHCH-kuh\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: knickknack, trinket
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Upon returning home from his trip to Maine, Jerry ceremoniously placed his new ceramic lobster next to the other tchotchkes on his mantelpiece.

“Everywhere there is something to delight the eye—not tchotchkes, but art. Eccentric art, angular art, modern art, all a signifier of personal style.” — From an article in Palm Beach Post, January 12, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Just as trinkets can dress up your shelves or coffee table, many words for “miscellaneous objects” or “nondescript junk” decorate our language. “Knickknack,” “doodad,” “gewgaw,” and “whatnot” are some of the more common ones. While many such words are of unknown origin, we know that “tchotchke” comes from the Yiddish “tshatshke” of the same meaning, and ultimately from a now-obsolete Polish word, “czaczko.” “Tchotchke” is a pretty popular word these days, but it wasn't commonly used in English until the 1970s.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Words of the day — trousseau

Good morning Netizens…

February 20, 2013

Words of the Day

  • trousseau
  • audio pronunciation
  • \TROO-soh\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: the personal possessions of a bride usually including clothes, accessories, and household linens and wares
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

I am fortunate to be in possession of various family heirlooms, including several items from my great-grandmother's trousseau.

“Kate will promise to love, comfort, honor and keep Prince William. And as the countdown continues, the princess bride is not withering under the strain, seen around town—shopping, perhaps, for her honeymoon trousseau.” — From a report by Natalie Morales in the NBC News Transcripts, April 23, 2011

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Trousseau” is a descendant of the French verb “trousser,” meaning “to truss” or “to tuck up.” Fittingly, a bride might truss, or bundle, a variety of items as part of her trousseau—and it is perhaps not too surprising that “truss” is also a “trousser” descendant. “Trousser” itself is thought to have evolved from a Vulgar Latin word, “torsus,” meaning “twisted.” Another descendant of “trousser” is “retroussé,” meaning “turned up,” as in a “retroussé nose.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Words of the day — white elephant

Good afternoon Netizens…

February 19, 2013

Words of the Day

  • white elephant
  • audio pronunciation
  • \WYTE-EL-uh-funt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: a property requiring much care and expense and yielding little profit
2
: an object no longer of value to its owner but of value to others
3
: something of little or no value
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The town's white elephant is the run-down but historic theater, which has been closed for several years but still requires thousands of dollars in maintenance costs.

“An artificially low interest rate … makes vast amounts of capital available to crony capitalists at cheap rates for speculative investment, which has swelled the GDP and left the Chinese landscape strewn with white elephants such as palatial municipal buildings, factories that stand still and empty hotels.” — From an article by Mark Leonard in New Statesman, January 14, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The real “white elephant” (the kind with a trunk) is a pale pachyderm that has long been an object of veneration in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar. Too revered to be a beast of burden, the white elephant earned a reputation as a burdensome beast, one that required constant care and feeding but never brought a single cent (or paisa or satang or pya) to its owner. One story has it that the kings of Siam (the old name for Thailand) gave white elephants as gifts to those they wished to ruin, hoping that the cost of maintaining the voracious but sacred mammal would drive its new owner to the poorhouse.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Words of the day —clamant

Good morning, Netizens…

February 17, 2013

Word of the Day

  • clamant
  • audio pronunciation
  • \KLAY-munt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: clamorous, blatant
2
: demanding attention : urgent
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Clamant students gathered outside the college president's office, protesting the denial of tenure for the popular professor.

“My clamant desire, clamant need, for some protected wilderness in the Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana … sometimes doesn’t jibe with some people’s conceptual images of an environmentalist.” — From Rick Bass's 2008 memoir Why I Came West

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Clamant” is considerably less common than its synonym “clamorous.” As the similarities in spelling might suggest, these two words are etymologically related, both coming from the Latin verb “clamare,” meaning “to cry out or shout.” Another relative is the noun “claimant,” meaning “one that asserts a right or title.” The paths from “clamare” to “clamorous” and “claimant” follow routes that lead through Anglo-French. “Clamant,” however, comes directly from Latin, deriving from “clamant-, clamans,” the past participle of the verb “clamare.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Words of the day —espouse

Good morning, Netizens…

February 16, 2013

Word of the Day

  • espouse
  • audio pronunciation
  • \ih-SPOWZ\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: marry
2
: to take up and support as a cause : become attached to
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The new theory has been espoused by many leading physicists.

“[The food collection drive] was scheduled on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the spirit of giving that King espoused.” — From an article by Charles A. Peterson in The Granville Sentinel (Ohio), January 15, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?
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As you might guess, the words “espouse” and “spouse” are related, both deriving from the Latin verb “spondēre,” meaning “to promise or betroth.” In fact, the two were once completely interchangeable, with each serving as a noun meaning “a newly married person” or “a husband or wife” and also as a verb meaning “to marry.” Their semantic separation began in the 17th century, when the noun “espouse” fell out of use. Around the same time, people started using the verb “espouse” figuratively to mean “to commit to and support a cause.” “Spouse” continued to be used in both noun and verb forms until the 20th century, when its verb use declined and it came to be used mainly as a noun meaning “husband or wife.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

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