Word of The Day for Saturday, April 30, 2011


zo•o•phyte (ZOH-uh-fahyt)  n

any of various invertebrate animals that superficially resemble plants, such as a sea anemone or sponge

zoophytic, zoophytical adjective

1615–25;  from Neo-Latin zoophyton  from Greek zoióphyton from Greek zoion "an animal," lit. "a living being," from PIE base *gwei- "to live, life"   +  phyte "plant from Gk. phyton "plant," lit. "that which has grown," from phyein "to grow"; literally animal-plant

Related Words: aerophyte, epiphyte, sporophyte; also see entry for zoopery

Sentence Examples:
• No small portion of the ocean’s tale this, comprising many chapters of deeds of daring, blood, villainy, heroism, and enterprise. But with this portion of its story we have nothing to do just now. It tells us, also, of God’s myriad and multiform creatures, that dwell in its depths, from the vast whale, whose speed is so great, that it might, if it chose, circle round the world in a few days, to the languid zoophyte, which clings to the rock, and bears more resemblance to a plant than to a living animal. - The Ocean and its Wonders, R.M. Ballantyne

• The aquarium presents a field for delightful and ever-varying study, as its inhabitants belong to the most curious and interesting of ocean and fresh-water creatures. Fishes alone are well worthy of close observation; and when to these are added odd little reptiles, queer shell-fish, and different classes of the wonderful zoophytes, an aquarium presents a constantly changing picture of the marvels of ocean life. - Harper's Young People, 1880

• It had long been a favourite theory, that in the earlier ages to which we can carry back our geological researches, the earth was shaken by more frequent and terrible earthquakes than now, and that there was no certainty nor stability in the order of the natural world. A few sea-weeds and zoophytes, or plants and animals of the simplest organization, were alone capable of existing in a state of things so unfixed and unstable. - A Manual of Elementary Geology, Charles Lyell


A zoophyte is an animal that visually resembles a plant. An example is a sea anemone. The name is obsolete in modern science. Zoophytes are common in medieval and renaissance era herbals, notable examples including the Tartar Lamb, a plant which grew sheep as fruit. Zoophytes appeared in many influential early medical texts, such as Dioscorides' De Materia Medica and subsequent adaptations and commentaries on that work, notably Mattioli's Discorsi. Zoophytes are frequently seen as medieval attempts to explain the origins of exotic, unknown plants with strange properties (such as cotton, in the case of the Tartar Lamb). Reports of zoophytes continued into the seventeenth century and were commented on by many influential thinkers of the time period, including Francis Bacon. It was not until 1646 that claims of zoophytes began to be concretely refuted, and skepticism towards claims of zoophytes mounted throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Sources: Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Friday, April 29, 2011


pro•pri•o•cep•tion (proh-pree-uh-SEP-shuhn)  n

the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body
proprioceptive adjective

1906; from proprioceptor, from L. proprius "one's own, particular to itself," from pro privo "for the individual" + receptor from O.Fr. receptour or directly from L. receptor, agent noun from recipere "regain, take back," from re- "back" + -cipere, comb. form of capere "to take" from PIE *kap- "to grasp"

Synonyms: compare to: kinesthesia - the sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints; muscle sense
Related Words: proper, property, receive, perception, inception, reception

a sensory receptor, found chiefly in muscles, tendons, joints, and the inner ear, that detects the motion or position of the body or a limb by responding to stimuli arising within the organism

Sentence Examples:
• The fundament of our mind is the mental map we create of our body. It is a detailed, psychic, rendition of our corporeal self, based on sensa (sensory input) and above all on proprioception and other kinaesthetic senses. - Cyclopedia Of Philosophy, Sam Vaknin

• Other common symptoms include disordered senses that may render the individual overly sensitive or under-responsive to sound, touch, smell and other stimuli. Even the sense of proprioception—spatial awareness of one's own arms, legs and body—can be disturbed. - Time, 2007

• In land-living forms, we are accustomed to thinking of proprioception in terms of posture, of adaptations of the quadruped or erect position to gravity. - Whales, dolphins, and porpoises, Kenneth Stafford Norris


Unlike the exteroceptive senses, by which we perceive the outside world, and interoceptive senses, by which we perceive the pain and movement of internal organs, proprioception is a third distinct sensory modality that provides feedback solely on the status of the body internally. It is the sense that indicates whether the body is moving with the required effort, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other.

Sources: Wikipedia, Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Thursday, April 28, 2011


xe•ni•al (ZEE-nee-uhladj

1. pertaining to hospitality, or to the rights, privileges, standing, or treatment of a guest, or to the relations between a guest and his host; specifically, noting such relations, etc., in Greek antiquity
2. hospitable, especially to visiting strangers or foreigners

xenia noun

1895–1900;  from Neo-Latin  from Greek xenía  "hospitality" from xenos  "guest"

Sentence Examples:
• The economic base of the Pacific Coastal People centered on the ceremony, prominence, and xenial protocol of the potlatch, with the accruement and distribution of property. - Encyclopedia of race, ethnicity, and society, Richard T. Schaefer

• We all remember Mr. Myers for his ever xenial, happy, cheerful spirit. To know him was to appreciate his sunny, hopeful disposition and to desire his friendship. - Bulletin: Bureau of Chemistry, 1900

• Again, it is curious to observe that the xenial relation was not less vivacious than that of blood. - Studies on Homer and the Homeric, William E. Gladstone

Sources: Wordnik, Dictionary.com

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Wednesday, April 27, 2011


u•sance (YOO-zuhns)  n

1. a length of time, exclusive of days of grace and varying in different places, allowed by custom or usage for the payment of foreign bills of exchange (commerce)
2. the income of benefits of every kind derived from the ownership of wealth; interest paid on borrowed money (economics)
3. use; custom; habit (archaic)

1350–1400; Middle English usaunce  from Old French usance,  probably from Medieval Latin usantia,  derivative of Latin usant (stem of usans), present participle of usare  "to use"

Related Words: use

Sentence Examples:
• The busy and sagacious bees fixed their republic in the clefts of the rocks and hollows of the trees, offering without usance the plenteous produce of their fragrant toil to every hand. - The History of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

• Come, then, you do know something, my lad. But it has been a tiresome business, with its investigation of titles and rights of usance, and court copyhold fines, and—Bother the business, it has taken up no end of time. But there, it’s all over, and you and I can go and make the dust fly and set the millstones spinning as much as we like. Thumpers they are, Tom, three feet in diameter. I wish to goodness they had been discs of glass instead of stone. - The Vast Abyss, George Manville Fenn

• So God me help, said Palomides, this is a shameful custom, and a villainous usance for a queen to use, and namely to make such war upon her own lord, that is called the Flower of Chivalry that is christian or heathen; and with all my heart I would destroy that shameful custom. - Le Morte D'Arthur, Thomas Malory

Sources: Dictionary.com

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Tuesday, April 26, 2011


e•pis•tol•ar•y (ih-PIS-tl-er-ee)

1. of, relating to, or suitable to a letter
2. contained in or carried on by letters
3. written in the form of a series of letters

a lectionary containing a body of liturgical epistles

1656; from Fr. épistolaire, from L. epistolaris, from epistola "letter," from Gk. epistole "message, letter, command, commission," whether verbal or in writing, from epistellein "send to," from epi "to" + stellein "send"

Related Words: epistle, apostle

Sentence Examples:
• The new edition constituted in effect a nearly complete epistolary autobiography. It contained not less than a hundred and fifty of Stevenson's letters hitherto unpublished. - The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson

• My imprisonment has weakened me intellectually to such a degree that I find your epistolary gifts quite considerable. - Marjorie Daw, Thomas Bailey Aldrich

• It is a matter of common remark that the epistolary art has been killed by the penny post, not to speak of post-cards. - The Argosy, Various

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Monday, April 25, 2011


il•la•tion (ih-LEY-shuhn)  n

1. the act of inferring or drawing conclusions
2. an inference or conclusion drawn

1533; from Late Latin illation, from Latin illatus, past participle of inferre "bring into, cause," from in- "in" + ferre "carry, bear," from PIE *bher- "to bear, to carry, to take"

Synonyms: infer, inference
Related Words: infer, inference

Sentence Examples:
• "It is a very great mistake," said Burke, many years before the French Revolution is alleged, and most unreasonably alleged, to have alienated him from liberalism: "it is a very great mistake to imagine that mankind follow up practically any speculative principle, either of government or of freedom, as far as it will go in argument and logical illation." - On Compromise, John Morley

• If the coloured increase is due chiefly to propagation among the coloured people themselves then it forms a good argument against those who assert that the half-caste is relatively inclined to sterility, while if the increase is found to be due to cohabitation of white men with coloured women then it is a fair illation that the coloured section is in process of absorption by the whites. - The Black Man's Place in South Africa, Peter Nielsen

• The same high power of reason, intent in every one to explore and display some truth; some truth of judicial, or historical, or biographical fact; some truth of law, deduced by construction, perhaps, or by illation; some truth of policy, for want whereof a nation, generations, may be the worse--reason seeking and unfolding truth; the same tone, in all, of deep earnestness, expressive of strong desire that what he felt to be important should be accepted as true, and spring up to action; the same transparent, plain, forcible, and direct speech, conveying his exact thought to the mind--not something less or more; the same sovereignty of form, of brow, and eye, and tone, and manner--everywhere the intellectual king of men, standing before you--that same marvelousness of qualities and results, residing, I know not where, in words, in pictures, in the ordering of ideas, infelicities indescribable, by means whereof, coming from his tongue, all things seemed mended--truth seemed more true, probability more plausible, greatness more grand, goodness more awful, every affection more tender than when coming from other tongues--these are, in all, his eloquence. - The Art of Public Speaking, Dale Carnagey

Sources: WordSmith

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Sunday, April 24, 2011


yar•dang (YAHR-dahng)  n

a keel-shaped crest or ridge of rock, formed by the action of the wind, usually parallel to the prevailing wind direction

earlier jardang,  term introduced by Sven Hedin (1904); perhaps a compound with Uigur yar  "cliff, precipice", or a cognate Turkic word

Sentence Examples:
• As climate changes or streams are diverted, yardang landscapes may be flooded. - Geomorphology of desert environments, A. J. Parsons, Athol D. Abrahams

• Because many of the martian yardangs seem to be structurally controlled, structural influence must be carefully evaluated if yardang orientations are used to interpret wind directions on Mars. - Geological Survey professional paper, 1978

• There is little real diagnostic evidence on the yardang slopes themselves that they are wind eroded, since between the more intense winds that perform most of the removal there are probably periods in which rainfall or dew destroys the evidence. - Geomorphology in deserts, Ronald U. Cooke, Andrew Warren

A yardang is a streamlined hill carved from bedrock or any consolidated or semiconsolidated material by the dual action of wind abrasion, dust and sand, and deflation. Yardangs are elongate features typically three or more times longer than they are wide, and when viewed from above, resemble the hull of a boat. Facing the wind is a steep, blunt face that gradually gets lower and narrower toward the lee end. Yardangs are formed by wind erosion, typically of an originally flat surface formed from areas of harder and softer material. The soft material is eroded and removed by the wind, and the harder material remains. The resulting patter of yardangs is therefore a combination of the original rock distribution, and the fluid mechanics of the air flow and resulting pattern of erosion.

Sources: Dictionary.com

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Saturday, April 23, 2011


(heyl)  adj

free from disease or infirmity; robust; vigorous

haleness noun

before 1000; O.E. hal "healthy, entire, uninjured". The Scottish and northern English form of whole; it was given a literary sense of "free from infirmity" (1734).

Synonyms: fit, healthy, hearty, robust, strapping, strong, vigorous, well
Related Words: whole, health

Sentence Examples:
• Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though hale and sinewy. - Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

• “After all, there is a countryman of ours on board,” I said, pointing to a pair of broad shoulders, disappearing under the companion-hatch. I caught sight of him just now; a fine, hale man, rather advanced in years, with a fair complexion, ruddy, and a profusion of grey hair. He wears a suit of drab; very plain, but well turned out. - Rambles in the Islands of Corsica and Sardinia, Thomas Forester

• Or, nearer home, our steps he led
  Where Salisbury’s level marshes spread
  Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
  Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
  Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
  The low green prairies of the sea.
-Snow-Bound, John Greenleaf Whittier

(heyl) v

1. to compel to go
2. to pull, draw, drag, or hoist (archaic)

haled past participle; halded past tense; haling present participle; hales 3rd person singular present

c.1200,  in M.E. used of arrows, bowstrings, reins, anchors, from O.Fr. haler "to pull, haul" (12c.), from a Germanic source, perhaps Frankish *halon or O.Du. halen; probably also from O.E. geholian "obtain". Figurative sense of "to draw (someone) from one condition to another" is late 14c.

Synonyms: compel, coerce, oblige
Related Words: halyard, haul

Sentence Examples:
• It is not enough to catch a ghost white-handed and to hale him into the full glare of the electric light. A brutal misuse of the supernatural is perhaps the very lowest degradation of the art of fiction. - Short Story Writing, Charles Raymond Barrett

• Ah, but this was not a joke—this was going beyond fun.  The laughter ceased on the instant, and fury took its place.  A dozen shouted— "Hale him forth!  To the horse-pond, to the horse-pond!  Where be the dogs?  Ho, there, Lion! ho, Fangs!" - The Prince and Pauper, Mark Twain

•    Not long he stay'd within his quiet house,
     To rest his bones after his weary toil;
     But new exploits do hale him out again:
     And, mounted then upon a dragon's back,
     That with his wings did part the subtle air,
     He now is gone to prove cosmography,
     That measures coasts and kingdoms of the earth;
     And, as I guess, will first arrive at Rome,
     To see the Pope and manner of his court,
     And take some part of holy Peter's feast,
     The which this day is highly solemniz'd.
- Dr. Faustus, Christopher Marlowe

Sources: Dictionary.com, Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Friday, April 22, 2011


(weeld)  n

wooded or uncultivated country; woodland

The Weald:
a region of SE England, in Kent, Surrey, and East and West Sussex between the North Downs and the South Downs: formerly forested

before 1150; Middle English weeld, O.E. (W.Saxon) weald "forest, woodland," specifically the forest between the North and South Downs in Sussex, Kent, and Surrey; a W.Saxon variant of Anglian wald; perhaps connected to wild

Synonyms: woodland

Sentence Examples:
• How different is the pursuit of the pheasant with the aid of spaniels in the thick covers of the weald, or tracking him with a single setter among some of the wilder portions of the forest range!—intently observing your dog and anticipating the wily artifices of some old cock, with spurs as long as a dragon's, who will sometimes lead you for a mile through bog, brake, fern, and heather, before the sudden drop of your staunch companion, and a rigidity in all his limbs, satisfy you that you have at last compelled the bird to squat under that wide holly-bush, from whence you kick him up, and feel some little exultation as you bring him down with a snap-shot, having only caught a glimpse of him through the evergreen boughs, as he endeavoured to escape by a rapid flight at the opposite side of the tree. - Highways & Byways in Sussex, E.V. Lucas

• One's gaze looked forth from it upon the endless middle distances of the oak-clad Weald, with the uncertain blue line of the South Downs in the background. Ridge behind ridge, the long, low hills of paludina limestone stood out in successive tiers, each thrown up against its neighbor by the misty haze that broods eternally over the wooded valley; till, roaming across them all, the eye rested at last on the rearing scarp of Chanctonbury Ring, faintly pencilled on the furthest skyline. - The Woman Who Did, Grant Allen

• Wide-branched oaks were intermingled with beeches and copsewood of various descriptions so closely in some places as to intercept the sunshine. In others the trees receded from each other, forming wide vistas that gave glimpses of other recesses of sylvan solitude. Down the long sunlit glades the gold belted bees sounded their humming horns through every flowery town of the weald. - In Doublet and Hose, Lucy Foster Madison

Sources: Dictionary.com, Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Thursday, April 21, 2011


du•bi•e•ty (doo-BAHY-i-tee)  n

1. the state of being doubtful; a feeling of doubt that often results in wavering
2. a doubtful matter

1750; from L.L. dubietas "doubt, uncertainty," from dubius "vacillating, moving two ways, fluctuating;" figuratively "wavering in opinion, doubting, doubtful," from duo "two", with a sense of "of two minds, undecided between two things." O.E. also used tweo "two" to mean "doubt".

Synonyms: doubt, doubtfulness, dubiousness, incertitude, indecision, uncertainty
Related Words: doubt, dubious

Sentence Examples:
• Besides the internal evidence, sufficient in itself to fix the authorship upon Miss Carstairs, she has herself removed all dubiety by mentioning upon the first number, that this poetical banquet has been prepared "by the author of the Hubble-Shue." - The Hubble-Shue, Christian Carstairs

• It was with the sense of a, for him, very memorable something that he peered now into the immediate future, and tried, not without compunction, to take that period up where he had, prospectively, left it. But just where the deuce had he left it? The consciousness of dubiety was, for our friend, not, this morning, quite yet clean-cut enough to outline the figures on what she had called his "horizon," between which and himself the twilight was indeed of a quality somewhat intimidating. - A Christmas Garland, Max Beerbohm

• But those who bet are different. They are minutely sensitive to outside occurrences; always seeking signs and interpreting them as favourable or unfavourable as the case may be; and refraining from doing anything so decisive as to call the girl to order. Their game is to be plastic under the fingers of chance; the faintest breath of dubiety can sway them. - Punch, or the London Charivari

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Wednesday, April 20, 2011


vul•pine (VUHL-pahyn)  adj

1. of, resembling, or characteristic of a fox
2. cunning; clever

1620s, from L. vulpinus "of or pertaining to a fox," from vulpes, earlier volpes (gen. vulpis, volpis) "fox," of unknown origin

Synonyms: foxy

Sentence Examples:
• Any fool can point out errors and defects, if they are at all apparent, and the persistent searching them out for their own sake is the surest mark of the vulpine mind, but the author has east aside all such petty considerations and, whether consciously or not, has left a work of permanent value to his own people and of interest to all friends of humanity. - The Social Cancer, José  Rizal

• His feet are like great pads, and his track in the snow has little of the sharp, articulated expression of Reynard’s, or of animals that climb or dig. Yet it is very pretty, like all the rest, and tells its own tale. There is nothing bold or vicious or vulpine in it, and his timid, harmless character is published at every leap. - Squirrels and Other Fur-Bearers, John Burroughs

• In the year 1529 Francis Buonaparte, whether pressed by poverty or distracted by despair at the misfortunes which then overwhelmed Italy, migrated to Corsica. There the family was grafted upon a tougher branch of the Italian race. To the vulpine characteristics developed under the shadow of the Medici there were now added qualities of a more virile stamp. - The Life of Napoleon, John Holland Rose

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Tuesday, April 19, 2011


jen•tac•u•lar (jen-TAK-yuh-luhr)  adj

of or relating to breakfast, especially a breakfast taken early in the morning, or immediately on getting up

from Latin jentaculum “a breakfast taken immediately on getting up” and English -ar

Sentence Examples:
• He rode his favourite hobby of gardening, and took his regular 'ante-jentacular' and 'post-prandial' walks, and played battledore and shuttlecock in the intervals of codification. -The English Utilitarians, Leslie Stephen

• To us, the amount of strong liquor consumed from medieval to comparatively recent times is a matter of surprise, and sometimes even of Pharisaical comment; but 150 years ago a college Head was fulminating against tea and coffee drinking as "a fashionable vice which leads only to squandering of money and misspending the morning in jentacular confabulations." - A cyclopedia of education, Paul Monroe

• To valetudinarians and others the following method of making coffee for breakfast is earnestly recommended, as a most wholesome and pleasant jentacular beverage, first ordered by an able physician. - The new family receipt book, 1810

Sources: WordSmith, Wiktionary

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Monday, April 18, 2011


gloa•ming (GLOH-ming)  n

twilight; dusk
before 1000; from O.E. glomung "twilight," formed from glom "twilight," related to glowan "to glow", from P.Gmc. *glo-, ultimately from the Indo-European root ghel- "to shine"

Synonyms: evening, dusk, eventide, nightfall, sundown, sunset, twilight

Sentence Examples:
• As far as it went, we found it a fine, interesting, but unfinished Gothic building of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Little beyond the choir exists—a splendid fragment, but a fragment only. It might have been one of the world's wonders. We entered for the second time in the gloaming, when its great height was lost in shadows.  -Glories of Spain, by Charles W. Wood

• It is nearly three years now since "Old Friend Death" took him gently by the hand and led him away to that far, far country of which he had such vague ideas, so he tells no more stories by the firelight in the gloaming; and his little masters--children no longer--are claimed by graver tasks and wider interests. -Outa Karel's Stories, Sanni Metelerkamp

• Year after year, Thornton Fairchild had sat in the big armchair by the windows, watching the days grow old and fade into night, studying sunset after sunset, voicing the vain hope that the gloaming might bring the twilight of his own existence,—a silent man except for this, rarely speaking of the past, never giving to the son who worked for him, cared for him, worshiped him, the slightest inkling of what might have happened in the dim days of the long ago to transform him into a beaten thing, longing for the final surcease.  -The Cross-Cut, Courtney Ryley Cooper

Sources: Wordsmith, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Sunday, April 17, 2011


lu•cu•lent (LOO-kyoo-luhnt)  adj

1. clear or lucid
2. convincing; cogent
3. bright or shining; glowing 

luculently adverb

1375–1425; late Middle English  from Latin luculentus  "bright", equivalent to luc-  (stem of lux ) "light" + -ulentus "full of"

Synonyms: comprehensible, intelligible, lucid, pellucid, perspicuous, transpicuous, unambiguous
Related Words: corpulent

Sentence Examples:
• We shall know at any rate that to Grumkow, in the Autumn 1731, these words were luculent and significant: consciously they tell us something of young Friedrich; unconsciously a good deal of Lieutenant-General Schulenburg, who with his strict theologies, his military stiffnesses, his reticent, pipe-clayed, rigorous and yet human ways, is worth looking at, as an antique species extinct in our time. - History Of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Thomas Carlyle

• The thundering acclamations, which greeted the close of that luculent and powerful exposition, the zeal with which the concourse hailed him unanimously Savior of Rome and Father of his country, the eagerness of affection with which all ranks and ages thronged around him, expressing their gratitude and their devotion, by all means imaginable, proved satisfactorily that, whatever might have been the result had massacre, plunder, and conflagration fallen upon them unawares, the vast mass of the people were now loyal, and true to their country.  -The Roman Traitor, Henry William Herbert

• I have heard, for example, a luculent description of poor Allister Campbell, and another drudge of the same class, running a race after dinner for a new pair of breeches, which Mr. David Bridges, tailor in ordinary to this northern potentate,--himself a wit, a virtuoso, and the croupier on that day in lieu of Rigdum,--had been instructed to bring with him, and display before the threadbare rivals.  - Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, John Gibson Lockhart

Sources: Dictionary.com, Free Dictionary

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Saturday, April 16, 2011


con•tre•temps (KON-truh-tahn)  n

1. an awkward or difficult situation or mishap; an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance
2. a small disagreement that is rather embarrassing
3. (Fencing) a feint made with the purpose of producing a counterthrust from one's opponent
1680s, "a blunder in fencing," from Fr. contre-temps "motion out of time, unfortunate accident, bad times;" from L. contra + tempus; as a ballet term, from 1706; as "an unfortunate accident," 1802; as "a dispute," from 1961

Synonyms: disaster, embarrassment, misadventure, misfortune, mishap, predicament

Sentence Examples:
• The secretiveness in connection with reverses and contretemps which prevailed at that time, and which continued to prevail during the first year and a half of the war—during the very period when I had certain responsibilities in connection with such matters myself—seemed to me then, and seems to me now, to have been a mistake. -Dug-out, Charles Edward Callwell

• "Say no more," I begged. "I understand. I shall ask for the time-table, shake hands, thank you for a most delightful visit, and express my regrets that any little contretemps should have arisen to hasten my departure." -Punch, or the London Charivari

• The groom was in the utmost alarm, both on his own account and on mine, but, in spite of this, so irresistibly had the sense of the ludicrous in this unhappy contretemps taken possession of his fancy, that he sang out a long, loud, and canorous peal of laughter, that might have wakened the Seven Sleepers. -Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Thomas De Quincey

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Friday, April 15, 2011


trac•ta•ble (TRAK-tuh-buhl)  adj

1. easily managed or controlled; governable
2. easily handled or worked; malleable

tractability , tractableness noun; tractably adverb

1502; from L. tractabilis "that may be touched, handled, or managed," from tractare "to handle, manage" originally "drag about," frequentative of trahere (pp. tractus) "to pull, draw" from PIE base *tragh- "to draw, drag, move"

Synonyms: manageable, acquiescent, amenable, complaisant, compliant, controllable, docile, ductile, facile, flexible, governable, malleable, persuadable, pliable, pliant, tractile, yielding
Related Words: tract, treatise, treaty, treat, trattoria
Antonyms:  intractable

Sentence Examples:
• The mule is an unnatural animal, and hence more timid of man than the horse; and yet he is tractable, and capable of being taught to understand what you want him to do.  -The Mule, Harvey Riley

• The domination of the minds of tractable Man is not new. Many men have dreamed of it. Certainly some of them have tried. This man succeeded. -Rex Ex Machina, Frederic Max

• It is such a tractable, satisfactory wood to handle—a clean, docile, wholesome tree; burning without snapping or sputtering, easily worked up into stovewood, fine of grain, hard of texture, stately as a forest tree, comely and clean as a shade tree, glorious in autumn, a fountain of coolness in summer, sugar in its veins, gold in its foliage, warmth in its fibers, and health in it the year round. -Under the Maples, John  Burroughs

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Thursday, April 14, 2011


ob•se•quy (OB-si-kwee)  n
usually plural, obsequies

a funeral rite or ceremony
late 14c., from L. obsequium "compliance, dutiful service," from obsequi "to accommodate oneself to the will of another," from ob "after" + sequi "follow"

Synonyms: eulogy, funeral rite, funeral service
Related Words: obsequious

Sentence Examples:
• This visit had probably no other motive than to make sure that this prince was really alive, he having been reputed dead of the plague for over thirty years, and his obsequies having been celebrated in presence of an entire army. - Celebrated Crimes, Alexandre Dumas

• It will be recalled without effort—possibly, indeed, without interest—that the obsequies of the old Senator Boligand were a distinguished success: a fashionable, proper function, ordered by the young widow with exquisite taste, as all the world said, and conducted without reproach, as the undertaker and the clergy very heartily agreed. -The Mother, Norman Duncan

• Now there were no wars at that time so far as was known in Spain, but that old lord's eldest son, regarding those last words of his father as a commandment, determined then and there in that dim, vast chamber to gird his legacy to him and seek for the wars, wherever the wars might be, so soon as the obsequies of the sepulture were ended. -Don Rodriguez, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Wednesday, April 13, 2011


kin•es•the•sia (kin-uhs-THEE-zhuh)  n
also kinaesthesia

the sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints; muscle sense

kinesthesis noun; kinesthetic adjective; kinesthetically adverb

1880; Mod.L. compound of Gk. kinein "to move" + aisthesis "perception" from PIE base *au- "to perceive"

Related Words: anaesthesia, paraesthesia

Sentence Examples:
• The relation of our kinesthesia or muscular sense to fanaticism on the one hand and freedom of mind on the other is a matter now beginning to be studied with the promise of highly important results. -The Mind in the Making, by James Harvey Robinson

• I venture to suggest the probability that the physical or energy-aspect of feeling is numerous sets of kinesthetic neurokinetic strains or impulses relating all layers of the great cortex to its effective environment (whether the latter be outside the body or within it), the conscious inhibitory phase of the kinesthesia representing originally the feelings unpleasant in tone, and its subconscious actuating phase the pleasant emotion. -Medical record, George Frederick Shrady, Thomas Lathrop Stedman

• I ask what really matters about dance-floor practice and pursue an analysis of the kinesthesia of queer identifications and the choreography of queer desirings. -Dancing desires: choreographing sexualities on and off the stage, Jane Desmond

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Tuesday, April 12, 2011


ab•ne•gate (AB-ni-geyt)  v

1. to refuse or deny oneself (some rights, conveniences, etc.); reject; renounce
2. to relinquish; give up
abnegation, abnegator noun

1623; from L. abnegatus, pp. of abnegare "to refuse, deny" from ab- "off, away from" + negare "to deny"

Synonyms: renounce, abstain, decline, forbear, forgo, refrain
Related Words: renege, negative, negation, deny

Sentence Examples:
• The fact of so little cultivation does not abnegate the existence of industry on the part of the villagers. Grazing is their occupation, not farming; only a little of the latter to give them maize for their tortillas, chile to season it with, and black beans to complete the repast. -The War Trail, Mayne Reid

• No government can, voluntarily, relinquish its powers, and abnegate its authority without thereby inviting disorder, disquietude, and, in the end, its destruction.- History and Ecclesiastical Relations of the Churches of the Presbyterial Order at Amoy, China J. V. N. Talmage

• In the vanity typical of the insecure, they abnegate all foreign knowledge. They rarely know a second language sufficiently to read it.  -After the Rain, Sam Vaknin

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Monday, April 11, 2011


draw•can•sir (draw-CAN-suhr)  n
often capitalized

a blustering, bullying fellow; a pot-valiant braggart; a bully

from the name of a character in the play The Rehearsal (1671) by George Villiers (1628-1687), 2nd Duke of Buckingham. The character was apparently named for his potvaliant tendencies: Draw can (of liquor). The play was a satire on poet John Dryden's inflated tragedies and the character of Drawcansir was modeled as a parody of Almanzor in Dryden's Conquest of Granada. Dryden in turn lampooned Villiers in a passage in his poem Absalom and Achitophel (1681)

Synonyms: braggart, bully

Sentence Examples:
• The large stage blusterer and ostentatious drawcansir were never, in Lamb's estimation, models for heroes. -Charles Lamb, Barry Cornwall

• But to leave the criticisms of this literary drawcansir to that oblivion to which they seem to be rapidly hastening, let us examine the merits of Barry in some of those characters in which he was universally allowed to excel; and on this scale we must give the preference to Othello. -The Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor, 1810

• The trumpets again sounded--the lists were opened. The arrogant nephew and his two drawcansir uncles appeared so completely cased in steel that they and their steeds were like moving masses of iron. When they understood the stranger knight to be the same that had rescued the duchess from her peril, they greeted him with the most boisterous derision. -The Crayon Papers, by Washington Irving

Sources: Free Dictionary, Wordsmith

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Sunday, April 10, 2011


mar•mor•e•al (mahr-MAWR-ee-uhl, -MOHR-)  adj

1. of or relating to marble
2. resembling marble, as in smoothness, whiteness, or hardness
3. suggestive of marble or a marble statue especially in coldness or aloofness

marmorean adjective; marmoreally adverb

1798, from L. marmoreus "of marble," from marmor, from or cognate with Gk. marmaros "marble, gleaming stone," of unknown origin, perhaps originally an adj. meaning "sparkling," which would connect it with marmairein "to shine"

Related Words: marble

Sentence Examples:
• But the poetry of this age has amply made up for any lack of innocence by its sumptuous fullness, its variety, its magnificent accomplishment, its felicitous response to a multitude of moods and apprehensions. It has struck out no new field for itself; it still remains where the romantic revolution of 1798 placed it; its aims are not other than were those of Coleridge and of Keats. ... It has been tender and fiery, severe and voluminous, gorgeous and marmoreal, in turns.  -Victorian Songs

• Was it her own,
  The voice I heard, marmoreal, strange, remote,
As though from yonder throne
  Clotho had spoken, and the headless throat
Had uttered words of stone?
-A Cluster of Grapes

• Turning to the right we went at a grand gallop past a villa that I recognized as the Villa Stuck from the old pictures I had seen; past other palaces until we reached a vast space upon which stood a marmoreal pile I knew to be the Mozart theater. -Old Fogy, James Huneker

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Saturday, April 9, 2011


wo•rd•e (BAL-nee-uhl)  adj

of or relating to baths or bathing
balneary adjective; balneation noun
from Latin balneum "bath", from Greek balaneion "bathing room, bath"

Sentence Examples:
• But, perhaps the most natural supposition is, that this may be a balneal chair; for lying immediately within the frame of it were found the strigils, and also the little earthenware cup or urn. The strigils, it need hardly be said, were instruments chiefly used in the baths; Juvenal describing preparations for the bath, says, sonat unctis strigilibus. -Archaeologia: or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity, 1836

• Being here for a distillation of Rheum that pains me in one of my Arms, and having had about three thousand strokes of a pump upon me in the Queen's Bath; and having been here now divers days, and view'd the several qualities of these Waters, I fell to contemplate a little what should be the reason of such extraordinary actual heat, and medicinal Virtue in them. ... I find that some impute it to Wind, or Air, or some Exhalations shut up in the Bowels of the Earth, which either by their own nature, or by their violent motion and agitation, or attrition upon rocks, and narrow passages, do gather heat, and so impart it to the Waters. Others attribute this balneal heat to the Sun, whose allsearching Beams penetrating the pores of the Earth, do heat the Waters. -Epistolæ Ho-Elianæ, James Howell

• Of these, the most important was undoubtedly Ad Mediam, where the springs were tapped and pipes, pools and buildings for balneal treatment were constructed. -Leisure, pleasure, and healing,Esti Dvorjetski

Sources: Free Dictionary

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Friday, April 8, 2011


re•si•pis•cent (re-si-PIS-uhnt)  adj

returning to one's senses, or to wiser course; reforming
resipicency, resipicence noun

from Latin resipiscere "to recover one's senses", from re- "again" + sapere "to taste, to know", ultimately from PIE root sep- "to taste or perceive"

Related Words: sage, savant, savvy, savor, sapid, sapient, and insipid

Sentence Examples:
• His endless variety of kabobs and pilaus is worthy of all commendation; and his sherbets, which refresh without a sting or a resipiscent headache next morning, are no doubt the style of phlegm-cutters and gum-ticklers which one had better patronize pretty exclusively while between the tropics.  -Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, 1875

• I think that any person, of whom it could have been believed that he was genuinely resipiscent, would have been received with open arms by the Ecclesiastical Government, and this from motives of policy. I do not think that Pius the Ninth is a tender-hearted man in such sort that sufferings inflicted on his enemies out of his sight would be heavy at his heart. The story of the life of Pius the Ninth, Thomas Adolphus Trollope

• So then scientism, troubled but not resipiscent, consents to organize experiments to expose in this Unknowable a few of its secrets. -Unruly Spirits, M. Brady Brower

Sources: Dictionary of Difficult Words, Wordsmith

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Thursday, April 7, 2011


tes•sel•la•ted (TES-uh-ley-tid)  adj

1. of, pertaining to, or like a mosaic
2. arranged in or having the appearance of a mosaic; checkered
tessellation noun; tessellate verb


1695: from L.L. tessellatus "made of small square stones or tiles," from tessella "small square stone or tile," dim. of tessera "a cube or square of stone or wood," perhaps from Gk. tessera, neut. of tesseres, Ionic variant of tessares "four" (see four), in reference to four corners

Related Words: tesseract

Sentence Examples:
• Inside there was a large hall running up to the roof; there was a tessellated black-and-white marble floor, and a circular staircase round the sides of the hall, from the top floor down.  -Theodore Roosevelt, by Theodore Roosevelt

• A half-mile from the main road, which seemed to him to have dropped out of sight the moment he had left it, he came upon a half-cleared area, where the hastily-cut stumps of pines, of irregular height, bore an odd resemblance to the broken columns of some vast and ruined temple. A few fallen shafts, denuded of their bark and tessellated branches, sawn into symmetrical cylinders, lay beside the stumps, and lent themselves to the illusion.  -A Phyllis of the Sierras, by Bret Harte

• Where had been the humble village, protected by a ditch and felled trees, there arose the walled city, with temples and baths and forum, and stately villas with frescoed walls and tessellated floors, and hot-air currents converting winter into summer. -The Evolution of an Empire, by Mary Parmele

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Wednesday, April 6, 2011


for•fend (fawr-FEND)  v
also forefend

1. to fend off, avert, or prevent
2. to defend, secure, or protect
3. to forbid
late 14c., Middle English forfenden, a hybrid from for- + fend, from L. defendere "to ward off", from de- "from, away" + -fendere "to strike, push," from PIE base *gwhen- "to strike, kill"

Synonyms: avert, block, divert, forestall, impede, obstruct, obviate, preclude, prevent, prohibit, restrain, stop
Related Words: offend, defend

Sentence Examples:
• When we can measure a character, we can forfend against surprises--discount virtues, exaggerate faults, strike a balance to our own ego; but when what you know is only a faint margin of what you don't know, a siren of the unknown beckons and lures and retreats. -The Freebooters of the Wilderness, Agnes C. Laut

• Telling herself that the only means to forfend senility was to be actively engaged in mental diversions, she nonetheless sought any diversion that she could, to ignore, if not discomfit, this paranoid erosion of sanity. -An Apostate: Nawin of Thais, by Steven Sills

• As soon as I can, I shall set off—but not to Europe. Heaven forfend! I shall go to America, to Arabia, to India—perchance I shall die somewhere on the way. At any rate, I am convinced that, thanks to storms and bad roads, that last consolation will not quickly be exhausted! - A Hero of Our Time, by M. Y. Lermontov

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Tuesday, April 5, 2011


no•va•tion (noh-VEY-shuhn)  n

1. (law) the act of either replacing an obligation to perform with a new obligation, or replacing a party to an agreement with a new party
2. the introduction of something new

novate verb

1530s, from L. novationem, noun of action from novare “make new,” from novus "new"

Related Words: renovation, innovation

Sentence Examples:
• Napoleon was swayed also by another consideration. He considered the constitutions of the empire as the title-deeds of his crown; and he was afraid, if he annulled them, that he should effect a sort of novation, that would give him the appearance of beginning a new reign. -Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, Pierre Antoine Edouard Fleury de Chaboulon

• Whether there has been a novation in any particular case is a question of fact, but assent to a novation is not to be inferred from conduct unless there has been a distinct and unambiguous request. -Principles of contract at law and in equity, Sir Frederick Pollock

• There must be a novation before the new firm is liable; and the new contract must receive the consent of all the parties, and must have the effect to extinguish the old contract and create a new liability of debtor and creditor, and such new contract must be based on some consideration. -Cases on the law of partnership, Eugene Allen Gilmore, William Everett Britton

Sources: Wikipedia, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Monday, April 4, 2011


sus•pire (suh-SPAHY-r)  v

1. to breathe
2. to sigh

suspiration noun

 mid-15c., from L. suspirare "to draw a deep breath, sigh," from sub "under" + spirare "to breathe"

Synonyms: breathe, sigh
Related Words:
transpire  - from L. trans- "through"  + spirare "to breathe"
respire - from L. respirare "breathe again, breathe in and out," from re- "again" + spirare "to breathe"
aspire - from L. ad- "to" + spirare "to breathe"
expire - from L. ex- "out" + spirare "to breathe"
conspire - lit. "to breathe together," from L. com- "together" + spirare "to breathe"
perspire - from L. perspirare "blow or breathe constantly," from per- "through" + spirare "to breathe, blow"
inspire - from L. inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into," from in- "in" + spirare "to breathe"

Sentence Examples:
• Every time the Military Band began to breathe a new Waltz he would have Otto bring a Tub of the Dark Brew and a Frankfurter about the size of a Sash Weight. Between pulls he would suspire deeply, so as to get the full assistance of the Climate. Sometimes he would feel that he was being benefited. -Ade's Fables, George Ade

• And when beside my winter fire
  I feel its fragrant leaves suspire,
  Hung from my hearth-beam on a hook,
  Or laid within a quiet book
  There to awake dear ghosts of men
      When pages ope that press them--
          Then, oh, then
  I think upon old friends and bless them.
-Punch, or the London Charivari

•   The Hours passed by, with veiled eyes endowed
    Of dream, and parted lips that scarce suspire,
  To breathing dusk and arrowy moonlight vowed,
    South wind and shadowy grove and murmuring
  Swaying they moved, as drows'd of wizard spells
  Or tranc'd with sight of recent miracles,
  And yet they trembled, down their folded wings
  Quivered the hint of sweet withholden things,
    Ah, bitter-sweet in their intensity!
  One paused and said unto my wonderings:
    "Lo, I am Love; I bid thee follow me!"
-Dreams and Dust, by Don Marquis

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Sunday, April 3, 2011


heu•ris•tic (hyoo-RIS-tik)

1. involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods
2. of or relating to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques to improve performance
3. serving to indicate or point out; stimulating interest as a means of furthering investigation
4. the study or practice of heuristic procedure, argument, or method

heuristically adverb

1821; German heuristisch, from New Latin heuristicus, irregular formation from Gk. heuretikos "inventive," related to heuriskein "to find"

Related Words: eureka

Sentence Examples:
• This does not mean that the method should be heuristic in Rousseau's sense, that the child should be told nothing, but be left to rediscover all knowledge for himself. But it does mean that in the imparting of the garnered experience of the race the child must be trained in the methods by which the race has slowly and gradually built up a knowledge of the means necessary for the realisation of the many and complex ends of civilised life. -The Children: Some Educational Problems, Alexander Darroch

• There is a common heuristic about the amount of food to order, expressed as "Get N - 1 entrees"; the value of N, which is the number of people in the group, can be inferred from context.- The Hackers' Dictionary

• There are no leading strings to interfere with the independence of one's progress. But this self-activity is increased, if the guide—to keep up the simile—lets go the hand of his companion, because the latter, with the goal in sight, is so sure of foot as to need no further assistance. In other words, the developmental method of teaching should be dropped to let the pupil find knowledge by himself; or, in technical terms, the genetic method should be exchanged for the heuristic. -The science of education in its sociological and historical aspects, Otto Willmann, Felix Marie Kirsch

Why This Word:

Heuristic methods are used to speed up the process of finding a good enough solution, where an exhaustive search is impractical. Examples of this method include using a "rule of thumb", an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense. In more precise terms, heuristics are strategies using readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information to control problem solving in human beings and machines.

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Saturday, April 2, 2011


ze•na•na (zuh-NAH-nuh)  n
also zanana

1.a part of the house reserved for women and girls; a system of segregating women into harems, in Asian countries such as India and Pakistan, esp in Muslim and Hindu homes
2. its occupants collectively
3. an effeminate or crossdressing male in northern India or Pakistan

The Zenana are the inner apartments of a house in which the women of the family live. The outer apartments for guests and men is called the Mardana.

1760; from Hindi  from Persian zanana,  "female, pertaining to women", adj. derivative of zan  "woman"

Synonyms: purdah, seraglio, serai, serail, harem

Sentence Examples:
• Then for the first time she is allowed to help herself to the faculties and senses usually monopolised by the Conscious Self. But like the timid and submissive inmate of the zenana suddenly delivered from the thraldom of her life-long partner, she immediately falls under the control of another. The Conscious Personality of another person exercises over her the same supreme authority that her own Conscious Personality did formerly. - Real Ghost Stories, William T. Stead

• It is a patent fact that the Indian woman, secluded as she is within the four walls of the zenana, cannot fully benefit by any system of medicine; and it was not till the generous efforts of Lady Dufferin were turned in this direction that the wives and daughters of the richest and most enlightened Indians enjoyed a better position than the lowest and meanest of their fellows. - Clara A. Swain, M.D., Mrs. Robert Hoskins

• Well, when Uncle used to come I slept in the "Baithak" and my wife slept somewhere in the zenana, I never inquired where. -Indian Ghost Stories, by S. Mukerji

Sources: Wiktionary, Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Friday, April 1, 2011


no•et•ic (noh-ET-ik)  adj

of or relating to the mind, esp to its rational and intellectual faculties
1653; from Gk. noetikos, from noesis, from noein “to have mental perception,” from noos “mind, thought”

Related Words: paranoia

Sentence Examples:
• By these words he suggests symbolically the incorporeal Idea. The phrase, 'before it was upon the earth,' marks the original perfection of every plant and herb. The eternal types were first created in the noetic world, and the physical objects on earth, perceptible by the senses, were made in their likeness. -Philo-Judaeus of Alexandria, Norman Bentwich

• It is true, indeed, that the transition brought about by Kant's noetical and ethical revolution was of great significance,--more significant even than the Socratic period, with which we are fond of comparing it; much that was new was woven on, much of the old, weakened, broken, destroyed. -Modern Philosophy, Richard Falckenberg

• In his first section, Viazovski notes that Calvin defines faith as assurance and identifies faith as a kind of knowledge. Assurance can be lacking when one doubts God’s veracity and when one misunderstands God’s mercy. While Viazovski categorizes the problem as primarily noetic, its solution is pneumatological. -Karl Barth’s Doubts about John Calvin’s Assurance

Why This Word:
Noetic holds additional meanings in the worlds of theory. In the realm of noetic science:

As defined by the philosopher William James in 1902, noetic refers to "states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority..."
In other words, there are several ways we can know the world around us. Science focuses on external observation and is grounded in objective evaluation, measurement, and experimentation. This is useful in increasing objectivity and reducing bias and inaccuracy as we interpret what we observe.
But another way of knowing is subjective -- or internal -- including gut feelings, intuition, hunches -- the way you know you love your children, for example, or experiences you have that cannot be explained or proven, but feel absolutely real nonetheless. This way of knowing is what we call noetic.

Note how noetic here switches from being primarily about reason and becomes primarily in reference to intuition.

And again similarly in the realm of noetic theory:
Noetic theory or noëtics ... is an alternative metaphysical "philosophy" concerned with the study of mind and intuition, and its relationship with a proposed divine intellect. Among its principal purposes are the study of the effects of perceptions, beliefs, and intentions on human consciousness.
The theory of noetics centers around the idea that the human mind is capable of affecting work or events or even doing work in the physical world. It is suggested that thought and spirit are not, in fact, imaginary, but are Bose or photon based, meaning essentially that the mind can be quantified by formulae which describe quantum materials such as light. This is a radical conclusion, as many people consider thoughts to be weightless. Noetic theory claims that just as gravity affects all matter, thoughts do as well, although to a lesser degree.

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day