Word of The Day for Tuesday, May 31, 2011


mai•eu•tic (mey-YOO-tik)  adj

of or pertaining to the method used by Socrates of eliciting knowledge in the mind of a person by interrogation and insistence on close and logical reasoning
maieutics noun; maieutical adjective

1645–55;  from Greek maieutikós  "of, pertaining to midwifery", equivalent to maieú ( esthai ) "to serve as a midwife" (akin to maîa  "midwife") + -tikos -tic


Related Words: Maia, May

Sentence Examples:
• The maieutic question was used to develop propositions which Socrates was trying to establish. The mother of Socrates, as he tells us in the Theaetetus, was a midwife, and his own life-work was intellectual midwifery. It was his function to assist the minds of others to give birth to ideas. The ironical question was destructive; the maieutic was constructive. The one was employed to confute an opponent; the other, to formulate the Socratic doctrines. - Educational foundations, 1907

• The teacher's business is to direct, encourage, and prof a soul until it gives birth to the truth. The maieutic method therefore suggests that since the soul is able to bring the truth out of itself, knowledge is really a kind of recollection or remembrance. If so, then there must have been a previous life in which the soul possessed the knowledge it has forgotten. - The quest for enlightenment, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupa-da

• The gem of the whole paper is contained in a few pages, where he gives an account of his own method of teaching botany to a class of boys by what he truly calls a maieutic process, drawing out intelligence before communicating knowledge, and only imparting formulas where the pupil's mind has come absolutely to yearn for some principle under which to combine its facts. - Contemporary review, 1868


Maieutics is a pedagogical method based on the idea that the truth is latent in the mind of every human being due to innate reason but has to be "given birth" by answering intelligently proposed questions (or problems). The word is derived from the Greek [word] pertaining to midwifery.

Sources: Dictionary.com

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Monday, May 30, 2011


Ju•no•esque (joo-noh-ESK)  adj

having the stately bearing and imposing beauty of the goddess Juno
1888; from Juno + -esque

Synonyms: statuesque, shapely, regal

Sentence Examples:
• When I was twenty-one, I swore,
If I should ever wed,
The maiden that I should adore
Should have a classic head;
Should have a form quite Junoesque;
A manner full of grace;
A wealth of hirsute picturesque
Above a piquant face.
- Cobwebs from a Library Corner, John Kendrick Bangs

• For almost an hour then he lay considering solemnly whether a red-headed girl could possibly be pretty. By two o'clock he had finally visualized quite a striking, Juno-esque type of beauty with a figure about the regal height of Cornelia's, and blue eyes perhaps just a trifle hazier and more mischievous. - Molly Make-Believe, Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

• That there should have been in the uncommon-tall young woman of buxom stateliness and prepossessing features, attired (to the mere masculine eye) in quite elegant black raiment--a thing called, I think, a picture hat, broad-brimmed with a sweeping ostrich feather, tickled my especial fancy, but was afterwards reviled by my wife as being entirely unsuited to fresh widowhood--what there should have been in this remarkable Junoesque young person who followed on the heels of Franklin to strike terror into Jaffery's soul, I could not, for the life of me, imagine. - Jaffery, William J. Locke


Juno was an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent is Hera. As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire she was called Regina ("queen") and, together with Jupiter and Minerva, was worshipped as a triad on the Capitol (Juno Capitolina) in Rome.

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Sunday, May 29, 2011


vir•gule (VUR-gyool)  n

1. a short oblique stroke (/) between two words indicating that whichever is appropriate may be chosen to complete the sense of the text in which they occur
2. a dividing line, as in dates, fractions, a run-in passage of poetry to show verse division, etc.


1837; from Fr. virgule, from L. virgula "punctuation mark," lit. "little twig," dim. of virga "shoot, rod, stick"; the word had been borrowed in its L. form in 1728; used as a comma in medieval MSS

Synonyms: diagonal, separatrix, shilling mark, slant, slash, solidus, stroke
Related Words: verge, virgin

Sentence Examples:
• She is of course well aware that I am watching, so finally makes the V of the Roman five, with a virgule before.  - Erotica Romana, Johann Wolfgang Goethe

• But, according to Dr Nott, the verses of Chaucer, and of all his successors down to Surrey, are merely rhythmical, to be read by cadence, and admitting of considerable variety in the number of syllables, though ten may be the more frequent. In the manuscripts of Chaucer, the line is always broken by a cæsura in the middle, which is pointed out by a virgule; and this is preserved in the early editions down to that of 1532. - Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1845

• "Dis/ability" unfolds its significance readily enough, but doubles back to focus on "/" and " " "(!) Between them, the virgule and our quotation marks, the literal and figurative markedness of what would otherwise have been chisled into our mindfulness. - Semiotics and dis/ability: interrogating categories of difference, Linda J. Rogers, Beth Blue Swadener

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Saturday, May 28, 2011


per•spic•u•ous (per-SPIK-yoo-uhs)  adj

1. clearly expressed or presented; easy to understand
2. expressing oneself clearly and effectively
perspicuousness, perspicuity noun; perspicuously adverb

1586; from L. perspicuus “transparent, clear, evident,” from perspicere "inspect, look through," from per- "through" + specere "look at"

Synonyms: clear, obvious, apparent, comprehensible, explicit, intelligible, lucent, lucid, luminous, pellucid, plain, straightforward, transparent, unambiguous, understandable
Related Words: perspective, perspicacious

Sentence Examples:
• I am always willing to run some hazard of being tedious, in order to be sure that I am perspicuous; and, after taking the utmost pains that I can to be perspicuous, some obscurity may still appear to remain upon a subject, in its own nature extremely abstracted. - An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith

• Such an historian would I wish to have under my care: with regard to language and expression, I would not have it rough and vehement, consisting of long periods, or complex arguments; but soft, quiet, smooth, and peaceable.  The reflections, short and frequent, the style clear and perspicuous; for as freedom and truth should be the principal perfections of the writer’s mind, so, with regard to language, the great point is to make everything plain and intelligible, not to use remote and far-fetched phrases or expressions, at the same time avoiding such as are mean and vulgar: let it be, in short, what the lowest may understand; and, at the same time, the most learned cannot but approve.  - Trips to the Moon, Lucian

• The necessary connexion of thought with the construction of a perspicuous sentence, has not, to my knowledge, been previously noticed. We are said to THINK on certain subjects, and this process is confessed to require an intense exertion of our intellectual faculties: but for this operation, the materials have not been clearly specified, nor the manner of the elaboration defined. - On the Nature of Thought, John Haslam

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Friday, May 27, 2011


wel•kin (WEL-kin)  n

1. the vault of the sky; firmament
2. the celestial abode of God or the gods; heaven
3. the upper atmosphere


12c; from O.E. wolcen "cloud," from P.Gmc. *welk-

Synonyms: empyrean, sky, the blue, the skies, vault, firmament, heavens, stratosphere
Related Words: walk

Sentence Examples:
• Now that the gloomy shadow of the night,
  Longing to view Orion's drizzling look,
  Leaps from th' antartic world unto the sky,
  And dims the welkin with her pitchy breath,
  Faustus, begin thine incantations,
  And try if devils will obey thy hest,
  Seeing thou hast pray'd and sacrific'd to them.
- Dr. Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe

• Thus Beatrice: at whose feet inclin'd
  Devout, at her behest, my thought and eyes,
  I, as she bade, directed.  Never fire,
  With so swift motion, forth a stormy cloud
  Leap'd downward from the welkin's farthest bound,
  As I beheld the bird of Jove descending
  Pounce on the tree, and, as he rush'd, the rind,
  Disparting crush beneath him, buds much more
  And leaflets.  On the car with all his might
  He struck, whence, staggering like a ship, it reel'd,
  At random driv'n, to starboard now, o'ercome,
  And now to larboard, by the vaulting waves.
- Purgatory, Dante

• LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped, we have heard, and what honor the athelings won! Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes, from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore, awing the earls. Since erst he lay friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him: for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve, till before him the folk, both far and near, who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate, gave him gifts:  a good king he! - Beowulf

• Nay, more than this, I have a garden plot,
  Wherein there wants nor hearbs, nor roots, nor flowers;
  Flowers to smell, roots to eate, hearbs for the pot,
  And dainty shelters when the welkin lowers:
  Sweet-smelling beds of lillies, and of roses,
  Which rosemary banks and lavender incloses.
- The Affectionate Shepherd, Richard Barnfield

• 'Tis the middle watch of a summer's night--
  The earth is dark, but the heavens are bright;
  Nought is seen in the vault on high
  But the moon, and the stars, and the cloudless sky,
  And the flood which rolls its milky hue,
  A river of light on the welkin blue.
- The Culprit Fay, Joseph Rodman Drake

World Wide Words:

We don’t use this much nowadays — dictionaries usually tag it as archaic or literary — except in the set phrase make the welkin ring, meaning to make a very loud sound. What supposedly rings in this situation is the vault of heaven, the bowl of the sky. In older cosmology this was thought to be one of a set of real crystal spheres that enclosed the Earth, to which the planets and stars were attached, so it would have been capable of ringing like a bell if you made enough noise. The word comes from the Old English wolcen, a cloud, related to the Dutch wolk and German Wolke. Very early on, for example in the epic poem Beowulf of about the eighth century AD, the phrase under wolcen meant under the sky or under heaven (the bard used the plural, wolcnum, but it’s the same word). Ever since, it has had a strong literary or poetic connection. It appears often in Shakespeare and also in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: “This day in mirth and revel to dispend, / Till on the welkin shone the starres bright”. In 1739, a book with the title Hymns and Sacred Poems introduced one for Christmas written by Charles Wesley that began: “Hark! how all the welkin rings, / Glory to the King of kings”. If that seems a little familiar, it is because 15 years later it reappeared as “Hark! the herald-angels sing / Glory to the new born king”.

Sources: Merriam-WebsterOnline Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Thursday, May 26, 2011


fil•i•a•tion (fil-ee-EY-shuhn)  n

  a. the condition or fact of being the child of a certain parent
  b. judicial determination of paternity
  c. the set of rules governing the attachment of children to their parents and its social consequences
  a. a line of descent; derivation
  b. the relation of one thing to another from which it is derived
  a. the act or fact of forming a new branch, as of a society or language group
  b. an affiliated branch, as of a society
  a. the act or process of filiating
  b. the state of being filiated
filiate verb; filiated past participle; filiated past tense; filiating present participle

 1520s, from Fr. filiation, from M.L. filiationem (nom. filiatio), noun of action from filiare "to have a child," from L. filius/filia

Synonyms: consanguinity, affiliation, affinity, agnate, blood-relationship, cognate, kin, kindred, kindredship, kinship, lineage
Related Words: affiliation, filial

Sentence Examples:
• We have had ingenious theories of the genesis of the movement, and the filiation of its ideas. - The Oxford Movement, R.W. Church

• To write, as Samuel Butler did, "Buffon planted, Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck watered, but it was Mr. Darwin who said 'That fruit is ripe,' and shook it into his lap" ... seems to us a quite misleading version of the facts of the case. The second fallacy which the historical citation is a little apt to suggest is that the filiation of ideas is a simple problem. - Evolution in Modern Thought, Ernst Haeckel et al

• Warriors, termed Kshatriyas in Sanskrit, were the earliest caste. Under the law of specialisation defence fell to the lot of adventurous spirits, whose warlike prowess gave them unlimited prestige with the peaceful masses. They became the governing element, and were able to transmit their privileges by male filiation. - Tales of Bengal, S. B. Banerjea

Sources: Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Wednesday, May 25, 2011


i•chor (AHY-kawr)  n

1. the rarefied fluid said to run in the veins of the gods in Classical Mythology
2. a watery, acrid discharge from a wound or ulcer (pathology)


1630s; from Greek ikhor, of unknown origin, possibly from a non-I.E. language

Sentence Examples:
• Poetry sheds no tears ‘such as Angels weep’, but natural and human tears; she can boast of no celestial ichor that distinguishes her vital juices from those of prose; the same human blood circulates through the veins of them both. - English Critical Essays

• In the Egyptian mind, at all events, it was a belief that was deeply implanted. The Pharaoh was a god upon earth. Like the Incas of Peru, he belonged to the solar race, and the blood which flowed in his veins was the ichor of the gods. - The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, Archibald Henry Sayce

• On examining the back, there was an ulcer situated on the spine, just below the shoulder, which discharged a thin whitish ichor.  - Observations on the Causes, Symptoms, and Nature of Scrofula or King's Evil, Scurvy, and Cancer, John Kent


Ichor originates in Greek mythology, where it is the ethereal fluid that is the Greek gods' blood, sometimes said to retain the qualities of the immortal's food and drink, ambrosia or nectar. It was considered to be golden in color. Great demigods and heroes occasionally attacked gods and released ichor, but gods rarely did so to each other in Homeric myth.

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Tuesday, May 24, 2011


at•el•ier (AT-l-yey, at-l-YEY)  n

a workshop or studio, especially of an artist, artisan, or designer

1699, from French atelier, from O.Fr. astelier "(carpenter's) workshop, woodpile," from astele "piece of wood, a shaving, splinter," probably from L.L. hastella "a thin stick," dim. of hasta "spear, shaft"

Synonyms: studio, workshop, gallery, salon, workroom

Sentence Examples:
• The large room was closely packed with easels—so closely, indeed, that an inadvertent motion of hand or foot often sent a wave of excitement through the whole atelier. Heads of every color, from youthful flaxen to venerable gray, were bent over their labors.  - Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature, 1878

• When he reached the upper landing of the spiral ascent, he paused a moment before laying hold of a grotesque knocker which ornamented the door of the atelier where the famous painter of Henry IV — neglected by Marie de Medicis for Rubens — was probably at work. - The Hidden Masterpiece, Honore de Balzac

• Irma spent much of her time in the atelier, and worked assiduously. - On the Heights - Berthold Auerbach

Sources:Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Monday, May 23, 2011


boul•e•verse•ment (bool-uh-vers-MAHn)  n

1. a reversal
2. a violent uproar; a tumult
1782; French, from Old French bouleverser "to overturn", from  boule "ball",  from Latin bulla + verser, "to overturn", from Old French, from Latin versre, frequentative of vertere, to turn; from PIE wer

Related Words: bowl, bullet; versed, versus

Sentence Examples:
• He tried to imagine himself in Hartley's place, Hartley in his, and he gave a little shiver. He knew that if that bouleversement were actually to take place he would be as glad for his friend's sake as poor Hartley was now for his, but he knew also that the smile of congratulation would be a grimace of almost intolerable pain, and so he knew what Hartley's black hour must be like. - Jason, Justus Miles Forman
• It is needless to dwell upon the chagrin of Honora's maternal grandfather, Howard Allison Esquire, over this turn of affairs, this unexpected bouleversement, as he spoke of it in private to his friends in his Parisian club.  - A Modern Chronicle, Winston Churchill
• In the first place, because first in order of realisation, there is its value as a mental bouleversement, a revolution in ideas, a sort of moral and intellectual cold shower-bath, a nervous shock to the system generally. The patient or pupil gets so thoroughly upset in all his preconceived ideas; he finds all round him a life so different from the life to which he has been accustomed in colder regions, that he wakes up suddenly, rubs his eyes hard, and begins to look about him for some general explanation of the world he lives in.  - Science in Arcady, Grant Allen

Sources: Free Dictionary

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Sunday, May 22, 2011


ur•ti•cate (UR-ti-keyt)

v tr
to sting or whip with or as if with nettles
v intr
to produce a stinging or itching sensation
characterized by the presence of hives
urticated past participle; urticated past tense; urticating present participle; urticates 3rd person singular present; urtication noun; urticant adjective

1835–45;  from Medieval Latin urticatus, past participle of urticare  "to sting", from Latin urtica "nettle from urere “to burn”

Related Words: combustion

Sentence Examples:
• In spite of their prominence and the fear which they arouse there are few accurate data regarding these American tarantulas. It has often been shown experimentally that they can kill small birds and mammals, though it is doubtful if these form the normal prey of any of the species, as has been claimed. There is no question but that the mere mechanical injury which they may inflict, and the consequent chances of secondary infection, justify, in part, their bad reputation. In addition to the injury from their bite, it is claimed that the body hairs of several of the South American species are readily detached and are urticating. - Handbook of Medical Entomology, William Albert Riley and Oskar Augustus Johanssen

• In the case of the jelly-fishes, it has been pointed out that their well-known urticating or stinging powers would make them at least unpleasant, if not dangerous, food for fishes; and that consequently the luminosity by which so many of them are characterized at night may serve at once as a warning to predatory fishes and as a protection to themselves.  - Wonders of Earth, Sea and Sky

• When beacons urticate each eye,
  Noctivagous ghouls haste to stroke
  Each goblin shank of hoary sage.
- Betelguese, Jean Louis de Esque

Sources: Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Saturday, May 21, 2011


sci•en•ter (sy-EN-tuhr)

deliberately, knowingly
knowledge of one's own illegal acts; intent

Latin, lit. "knowingly," from sciens, prp. of scire "to know" + adv. suffix -ter

Related Words: prescience, science, nescience, conscience

Sentence Examples:
• If he keeps a dog the animal may have his first bite at his neighbour free of expense, and when he gets to hear about it he can send the dog away. But with a wife there is no question of scienter. You may not suspect that your good lady is given to slander, assault and such like indiscretions, but, if it so happens, you have to pay. - The Law and the Poor, Edward Abbott Parry

• None of the obscenity cases promises to answer lower-court prayers for clarification of last term's Ginzburg decision. But two may clarify the doctrine of scienter, the requirement that a smut seller must have "guilty knowledge" that his wares are obscene before he is criminally liable. - Time, 1966

• "What evidence have you to that effect?" queried Gottlieb.  "You say so, to be sure, but I, on the contrary, assert that he was perfectly honest in the matter.  Now, there is absolutely nothing in this case to prove that he had any guilty knowledge to the effect that his account was too low to meet the draft in question.  You have proven no scienter whatever."

"Ah!" exclaimed the judge.  "That is it!  You have shown no scienter!"

"Exactly!" cried Gottlieb--"no scienter at all."

"But how in the world could I have proved a scienter?" wrathfully demanded the lawyer.  "I can't pry open the prisoner's skull and exhibit his evil intent."

"No, but you could have shown that he knew he had only a few dollars in the bank by the fact that he had previously tried to cash a similar check and that it had been returned.  In any event, my own mind is clear on the subject.  You have shown no scienter.  The prisoner is discharged."
- Artemas Quibble, Arthur Train

Free Dictionary:

The term scienter refers to a state of mind often required to hold a person legally accountable for her acts. The term often is used interchangeably with Mens Rea, which describes criminal intent, but scienter has a broader application because it also describes knowledge required to assign liability in many civil cases.

Scienter denotes a level of intent on the part of the defendant. In Ernst and Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 U.S. 185, 96 S. Ct. 1375, 47 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court described scienter as "a mental state embracing intent to deceive, manipulate, or defraud." The definition in Ernst was fashioned in the context of a financial dispute, but it illustrates the sort of guilty knowledge that constitutes scienter.

Scienter is relevant to the pleadings in a case. Plaintiffs and prosecutors alike must include in their pleadings allegations that the defendant acted with some knowledge of wrongdoing or guilt. If a legislative body passes a law that has punitive sanctions or harsh civil sanctions, it normally includes a provision stating that a person must act willfully, knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly, or it provides similar scienter requirement. Legislative bodies do not, however, always refer to scienter in statutes.

In the Ernst case, the investors in a brokerage firm brought suit against an accounting firm after the principal investor committed suicide and left a note revealing that the brokerage firm was a scam. The investors brought suit for damages against the brokerage firm's accounting firm under sections 10(b) and 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C.A. § 78a et seq.), which makes it unlawful for any person to engage in various financial transgressions, such as employing any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud, or engaging in any act, practice, or course of business that operates as a Fraud or deceit upon any person in connection with the purchase or sale of any security.

Significantly, the Securities Exchange Act does not mention any standard for intent. The courts had to decide whether a party could make a claim under the act against a person without alleging that the person acted intentionally, knowingly, or willfully.

The investors in Ernst did not allege that the accounting firm had an intent to defraud the investors. Rather, they alleged only that the accounting firm had been negligent in its accounting and that the Negligence constituted a violation of the Securities Exchange Act. The Supreme Court ruled that an allegation of negligent conduct alone is insufficient to prove a violation of the Securities Exchange Act. According to the Court, the language in the act reflected a congressional intent to require plaintiffs to prove scienter on the part of the defendant to establish a claim under the act.

Most courts hold that reckless conduct may also constitute scienter. The definition of reckless includes conduct that reasonable persons know is unsafe or illegal. Thus, even if a defendant did not have actual knowledge that his behavior was criminal, scienter may be implied by his reckless actions.

In some cases the level of scienter required to find a defendant liable or culpable may fluctuate. In Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621 (1985), a group of investors brought suit against a bank, alleging that the bank had aided and abetted a securities fraud operation. To establish a defendant's liability for aiding and abetting a securities fraud transaction, the plaintiff must prove that there was a securities law violation, that the defendant knew about the violation, and that the defendant substantially assisted in the violation. In sending the case back to the trial court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit stated that in a case alleging aiding and abetting, more scienter is required if the plaintiff has little proof that the defendant substantially assisted in the violation. The court noted that the bank seemed blameworthy only because it failed to act on possible suspicions of impropriety and that the bank had no duty to notify the plaintiffs about the actions of others. In such a case, the court advised that "an alleged aider-abettor should be found liable only if scienter of the high 'conscious intent' variety can be proved. Where some special duty of disclosure exists, then liability should be possible with a lesser degree of scienter."

In some cases or claims, a plaintiff need not prove that the defendant acted with any scienter. These cases or claims are based on Strict Liability statutes, which impose criminal and civil liability without regard to the mental state of the defendant. For example, a statute that prohibits the sale of cigarettes to minors may authorize punishment for such a sale even if the seller attempted to verify the buyer's age and believed that the buyer was not a minor. Courts have held that a legislative body may not authorize severe punishment for strict liability crimes because severe punishment is generally reserved for intentional misconduct, reckless conduct, or grossly negligent conduct.

In United States v. Wulff, 758 F.2d 1121 (1985), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit declared that the felony provision of the migratory bird treaty Act, 16 U.S.C.A. § 703 et seq., was unconstitutional because it made the sale of part of a migratory bird a felony without proof of scienter. According to the court, eliminating the element of criminal intent in a criminal prosecution violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution unless the penalty is relatively small and the conviction does not gravely besmirch the reputation of the defendant. The penalty in the act authorized two years in prison and a $2,000 fine, and the court considered that punishment too onerous to levy against a person who had acted without any scienter.

Sources: Wiktionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Friday, May 20, 2011


o•ti•ose (OH-shee-ohs, OH-tee-) adj

1. producing no useful result, futile
2. being at leisure, idle, lazy, indolent
3. lacking use or effect, superfluous

otioseness, otiosity noun; otiosely adverb

1794; from L. otiosus "having leisure or ease, not busy" (cf. Fr. oiseux, Sp. ocioso, It. otioso), from otium "leisure," of unknown origin, meaning "at leisure, idle" is recorded from 1850

Synonyms: listless, slothful, futile, hopeless, ineffective, useless, futile, hollow, idle, inactive, indolent, ineffective, laggard, lazy, slothful, sterile, superfluous, surplus
Related Words: negotiation, from neg- "not" + otium "ease, leisure"

Sentence Examples:
• The hall was constructed in the manner of a Roman atrium, and from the oblong pool of turgid water in the centre a troop of fat and otiose rats fled weakly squealing at my approach. - Prince Zaleski, M.P. Shiel

• The otiose, the facile, surplusage: why are these abhorrent to the true literary artist, except because, in literary as in all other arts, structure is all important, felt or painfully missed, everywhere?--that architectural conception of work, which foresees the end in the beginning, and never loses sight of it, and in every part is conscious of all the rest, till the last sentence does but, with undiminished vigour, unfold and justify the first--a condition of literary art, which, in contradistinction to another quality of the artist himself, to be spoken of later, I shall call the necessity of mind in style. - How to Fail in Literature, Andrew Lang

• It remains only to be said, by way of conclusion to this brief survey, that, for those who are disposed to open their sensibilities to the appeal of this music, its high and haunting beauty must exert an increasing sway over the heart and the imagination. It is making no excessive or invidious claim for it to assert that, after one has truly savored its quality, other music, transcendent though it may demonstrably be, seems a little coarse-fibred, a little otiose, a little—as Jules Laforgue might have said—quotidienne. - Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, Lawrence Gilman

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

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Thursday, May 19, 2011


di•vid•u•al (dih-VIJ-oo-uhl)  adj

1. divisible or divided
2. separate; distinct
3. distributed; shared
from Latin from dividuus "divisible," from dividere "divide"

Synonyms: divisible
Antonym: individual, from in- "not" + dividuus "divisible"
Related Words: divide, individual

Sentence Examples:
• Then would the memory of past days return to me; yet I had the same trust in Heaven as I had before, seeing that they were the dividual stars above my head which I used to glour up at in wonder at Dalkeith--pleasant Dalkeith! - The Life of Mansie Wauch, David Macbeth Moir

• The soul of Lilith lay naked to the torture of pure interpenetrating inward light. She began to moan, and sigh deep sighs, then murmur as holding colloquy with a dividual self: her queendom was no longer whole; it was divided against itself. - Lilith, George MacDonald

• But you know that I honour you, and that I love whom I honour. Love and esteem with me have no dividual being; and wherever this is not the case, I suspect there must be some lurking moral superstition which nature gets the better of; and that the real meaning of the phrase "I love him though I cannot esteem him," is--I esteem him, but not according to my system of esteem. - Biographia Epistolaris, Samual Taylor Coleridge

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Wednesday, May 18, 2011


xan•thous (ZAN-thuhs)  adj

1. yellow; yellowish
2. of, relating to, or designating races with yellowish hair and a light complexion (ethnology)

xan•thic (zan-thik) adj
1. of or pertaining to a yellow or yellowish color
2. of or derived from xanthine or xanthic acid (chemistry)

1829, from Gk. xanthos "yellow," of unknown origin

Synonyms: yellow, yellowish, xanthic, gamboge, aureolin, xanthein, aureate, golden, flavous, citrine, fallow; fulvous, fulvid; sallow, luteous, auricomous, xanthocarpous, xanthochroid, xanthopous
Related Words: xanthic, xanthocarpous, xanthochroid, xanthopous, xanthein, xanthin, xanthite, xanthopsia

Sentence Examples:
• What imaginable intelligence could compensate her for the flat blueness of her eyes, the xanthous pallor of her hair, the doll-like pink of her cheeks?  - Damn!, Henry Louis Mencken

• "Perhaps if we find his xanthic highness after a good meal he will be inclined to be a bit more lenient," Loomis whispered with a forced laugh, trying to cheer his glum companions. - The Sword and the Atopen, Taylor H. Greenfield

• The name was Scandinavian, and the appearance of the girl confirmed that supposition. She evidently belonged to the great race of Nilsson and Lind. Her hair, a mass of rebellious, short curls, was of the peculiar shade of light yellow common among that people; it looked as if the xanthous locks of the old Gauls, as described by Cæsar, had been faded out, in the long nights and the ice and snow of the Northland, to this paler hue. - Caesar's Column, Ignatius Donnelly

Sources: Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Tuesday, May 17, 2011


har•us•pi•cy (hur-RUS-puh-see; huh-)  n

a form of divination by natural phenomena, especially from inspection of the entrails of animal sacrifices, especially the livers of sacrificed sheep and poultry

haruspex noun; haruspical adjective

from Latin haruspicium, from haruspex, from hira "entrails" from PIE *ghere- "gut, entrail" + specere "to look at" from L. spic- "beholding, inspecting"

Synonyms: extispicy, haruspication, aruspicy, hieromancy, hieroscopy, hepatoscopy,  hepatomancy
Related Words: hernia, yarn

Sentence Examples:
• Astrology did away with, and gradually relegated to oblivion, all the ancient methods that had been devised to solve the enigmas of the future. Haruspicy and the augural art were abandoned, and not even the ancient fame of the oracles could save them from falling into irretrievable desuetude.  - The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism, Franz Cumont

• Really, magic was repellent to the honesty of his mind, as well as to his nerves, by reason of the suspicious and brutal part of its operations. As a rule, it was involved with haruspicy, and had a side of sacred anatomy and the kitchen which revolted the sensitive--dissection of flesh, inspection of entrails, not to mention the slaughtering and strangling of victims. - Saint Augustin, Louis Bertrand

Haruspicy goes back far beyond Biblical times. In Ezekiel 21:21 it says: “For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to us divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver." - The fortune-telling book, Raymond Buckland


In Roman and Etruscan religious practice, a haruspex (plural haruspices; Latin auspex, plural auspices) was a man trained to practice a form of divination called haruspicy, hepatoscopy or hepatomancy. Haruspicy is the inspection of the entrails of sacrificed animals, especially the livers of sacrificed sheep and poultry. The rites were paralleled by other rites of divination such as the interpretation of lightning strikes, of the flight of birds (augury), and of other natural omens. Practitioners during the period of Roman dominance gradually adopted the title auspex from the older word haruspex, or from the Latin avis (bird) and specere or spectare (to look/see).

Being a specific form of the general practice of extispicy, haruspicy is not original to Etruscans nor Romans. Rather, it is now considered to have originated from the Near East where one would once find Hittites and Babylonians performing similar rites with entrails and producing comparable stylized models of the sheep's liver.
Sources: Free Dictionary, WordSmith

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Monday, May 16, 2011


ex•o•nu•mi•a (ek-suh-NOO-mee-uh)  n

numismatic items (as tokens, medals, or scrip) other than coins and paper money
exonumist noun

1960; from New Latin, from exo- + English numismatic, from Fr. numismatic (late 16c.), from L. numismat-, stem of numismata, from Gk. nomisma “current coin” from nomizein "have in use, adopt a custom," from nomos "custom, law, usage," from PIE base *nem- "to divide, distribute, allot" + New Latin -ia

Related Words: numismatics

Sentence Examples:
• Finally, if you have something esoteric - items that are not traded routinely and have infrequently updated pricing guides - a good auction may again bring the very best price. Examples could be issues collected by variety, like large cents and bust halves, world coins, errors, or many categories of exonumia. - The Rare Coin Estate Handbook,  James L. Halperin, et al

• You have before you many wonderful lots of exonumia, including many rarities that demand the careful attention of specialists and historians. You can easily add some classic rarities to your own collections. - Heritage Long Beach Coin Auction featuring Tokens and Medals, Mark Van Winkle, et al

• Other pieces seen are the Dancing Bears, Liberty and flag, Eagle and flag, Pacific Currency doubloon of Mexican design, Liberty and kneeling prospector counters which appear on the market from time to time. While interesting, these were in all likelihood gaming counters and are properly cataloged with exonumia. Their inclusion with the gold coins and patterns tends to trivialize the more significant series.  - Coin world comprehensive catalog & encyclopedia of United States, David T. Alexander


Exonumia are numismatic items (such as tokens, medals, or scrip) other than coins and paper money. This includes "Good For" tokens, badges, counterstamped coins, elongated coins, encased coins, souvenir medallions, tags, wooden nickels and other similar items. It is related to numismatics (concerned with coins which have been legal tender), and many coin collectors are also exonumists.

Besides the above strict definition, others extend it to include non-coins which may or may not be legal tenders such as cheques, credit cards and similar paper. These can also be considered notaphily or scripophily.

The noun exonumia is derived from two classical roots: exo, meaning "out-of" in Greek, and nummus, meaning "coin" in Latin; thus, "out[side]-of-[the category]coins". Usually, the term "exonumia" is applied to these objects in the United States, while the equivalent British term is paranumismatica.

The words exonumist and exonumia were coined in July 1960 by Russell Rulau, a recognized authority and author on the subject, and accepted by Webster's dictionary in 1965.

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Sunday, May 15, 2011


lin•e•a•ment (LIN-ee-uh-muhnt)  n
often used in the plural

1. a distinctive shape, contour, or line, especially of the face
2. a definitive or characteristic feature3. any long natural feature on the surface of the earth, such as a fault, esp as revealed by aerial photography (geology) 

lineamental adjective

early 15c.;  from M.Fr. lineament, from L. lineamentum "contour, outline," from lineare "to reduce to a straight line," from linea;  figurative sense of "a characteristic" is attested from 1630s

Related Words: line, align, delineate; lineage, linear

Sentence Examples:
• A gleam of exultation shot across the darkly-painted lineaments of the inhabitant of the forest, as he traced the route of his intended victims, who rode unconsciously onward, the light and graceful forms of the females waving among the trees, in the curvatures of their path, followed at each bend by the manly figure of Heyward, until, finally, the shapeless person of the singing master was concealed behind the numberless trunks of trees, that rose, in dark lines, in the intermediate space. - The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper

• At the second fireplace sat his son, and, though a mere boy, the lineaments of his father marked the youth's face with a painful exactness. - The Fortunes Of Glencore, Charles James Lever

• She has been such as she now appears to be for these last five and twenty years; her figure as you see, rather en-bon point, is friendly to the ravages of time, and every lineament of age is artfully filled up by an expert fille de chambre, whose time has been employed at the toilette of a celebrated devotee in Paris. - Real Life in London, Pierce Egan

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Saturday, May 14, 2011


rosc•i•an (ROSH-ee-uhn)  adj

of or related to acting


after Quintus Roscius Gallus (c.126-62 BCE), a Roman actor famous for his talent in acting

Sentence Examples:
• He was again a man with a wrong, a lover dispossessed. On the instant his veins filled with passionate blood. The Roscian strain in him had its own tragic force and reality. - The World For Sale, Gilbert Parker

• I took what Joe gave me, and found it to be the crumpled play-bill of a small metropolitan theatre, announcing the first appearance, in that very week, of "the celebrated Provincial Amateur of Roscian renown, whose unique performance in the highest tragic walk of our National Bard has lately occasioned so great a sensation in local dramatic circles." - Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

• But the whole point of the scene is lost unless the First Player, reciting that great speech, seem to outclass his Prince as an actor. His performance must be a revelation of what a big emotional histrion can do, something absolutely Roscian. - Talking of Shakespeare, John Garrett


Endowed with a handsome face and manly figure, Quintus Roscius Gallus studied the delivery and gestures of the most distinguished advocates in the Forum, especially Q Hortensius, and won universal praise for his grace and elegance on the stage. He especially excelled in comedy. Cicero took lessons from him. The two often engaged in friendly rivalry to try whether the orator or the actor could express a thought or emotion with the greater effect, and Roscius wrote a treatise in which he compared acting and oratory. Q. Lutatius Catulus composed a quatrain in his honour, and the dictator Sulla presented him with a gold ring, the badge of the equestrian order, a remarkable distinction for an actor in Rome, where the profession was held in contempt.

Like his contemporary Aesopus, Roscius amassed a large fortune, and he appears to have retired from the stage some time before his death. In 76 BC he was sued by C. Fannius Chaerea for 50,000 sesterces, and was defended by Cicero in a famous speech.

Sources: WordSmith

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Friday, May 13, 2011


con•voke (kuhn-VOHK)  v tr

to call together; summon to meet or assemble

convocation, convocant, convoker noun; convocative adjective

1598; from M.Fr. convoquer (14c.), from L. convocare "to call together" from com- "together" + vocare "to call," from vox "voice"

Synonyms: assemble, call, convene, gather, summon
Related Words: vocabulary, vocation, avocation, locative, vocative, provoke, vouch, evocation, equivocation, revoke, advocate, invoke

Sentence Examples:
• As to the States General of 1484, neither the regent, Anne de Beaujeu, nor Charles VIII., offered the slightest hinderance to their deliberations and their votes; and if Louis XII. did not convoke the States afresh, he constantly strove in the government of his kingdom to render them homage and give them satisfaction.  - A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times, Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

• Roman Catholic scholars to-day tend to recede from the high ground very generally taken several centuries ago, and Funk even admits that the right to convoke oecumenical synods was vested in the emperor regardless of the wishes of the pope, and that it cannot be proved that the Roman see ever actually had a share in calling the oecumenical councils of antiquity. - COUNCIL: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition

• The emperors, as the first ministers of the republic, were exempted from the obligation and penalty of many inconvenient laws: they were authorized to convoke the senate, to make several motions in the same day, to recommend candidates for the honors of the state, to enlarge the bounds of the city, to employ the revenue at their discretion, to declare peace and war, to ratify treaties; and by a most comprehensive clause, they were empowered to execute whatsoever they should judge advantageous to the empire, and agreeable to the majesty of things private or public, human of divine. - History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Thursday, May 12, 2011


no•sis•m (NO-siz-em)  n

the use of 'we' in referring to oneself

nosist noun;  nosistic adjective

from Latin nos "we" + ism

Related Words:for comparison, see illeism

Sentence Examples:
• Jennifer did such a good job introducing this blog that I have very little to add. You may have noticed that she kept writing in the first person plural. This was not nosism but an acknowledgment that there are two of us here. Cooking for Jesus: Celebrating the Christian Year

• While I do appreciate the advances that it brought in many ways, I am sick of the individuality that permeates avery aspect of our modern lonely life. At the other extreme, the traditional way of hiding ones results or opinions under an academic nosism ... is equally appalling today, but I may be hypersensitive in this regard due to my experiences. -Christian Luczanits

• I refer to myself sometimes as "we." Kind of like a nosism, except my reasons are more like "I'm schizophrenic" rather than "I'm better than you." - Much Love, Jane

• The problem is we (excuse my nosism) like the status quo: uninhibited, unrestrained Discovery Channel out-on-the-prowl lifestyle with the freedom to start a relationship with whoever's out there, instead of just settling on whoever's right here. - Huffington Post, Jeff Katz

• Oft derided for his brash behavior and frequent use of nosism, Rickey Henderson is, I believe, simply misunderstood. Which is understandable. - Rickey says Rickey

• We must avoid both egoism and nosism in order to realize the glory of humanity. - Philosophy, Humanity and Ecology, J. Odera Oruka

Sources: Wordsmith

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Wednesday, May 11, 2011


ge•o•man•cy (JEE-uh-man-see)  n

divination by geographic features or by figures or lines

geomancer noun; geomantic adjective

late 14c.; from O.Fr. géomancie, from M.L. geomantia, from late Gk. *geomanteia, from geo-, comb. form of ge "earth" + manteia "divination" from mantis "seer, prophet, soothsayer," related to mania "madness, frenzy"

Related Words:
by oracles, Theomancy;
by the Bible, Bibliomancy;
by ghosts, Psychomancy;
by crystal gazing, Crystallomancy;
by shadows or manes, Sciomancy;
by appearances in the air, Aeromancy, Chaomancy;
by the stars at birth, Genethliacs;
by meteors, Meteoromancy;
by winds, Austromancy;
by sacrificial appearances, Aruspicy, Haruspicy, Hieromancy, Hieroscopy;
by the entrails of animals sacrificed, Extispicy, Hieromancy;
by the entrails of a human sacrifice, Anthropomancy;
by the entrails of fishes, Ichthyomancy;
by sacrificial fire, Pyromancy;
by red-hot iron, Sideromancy;
by smoke from the altar, Capnomancy;
by mice, Myomancy;
by birds, Orniscopy, Ornithomancy;
by a cock picking up grains, Alectryomancy, Alectromancy;
by fishes, Ophiomancy;
by herbs, Botanomancy;
by water, Hydromancy;
by fountains, Pegomancy;
by a wand, Rhabdomancy;
by dough of cakes, Crithomancy;
by meal, Aleuromancy, Alphitomancy;
by salt, Halomancy;
by dice, Cleromancy;
by arrows, Belomancy;
by a balanced hatchet, Axinomancy;
by a balanced sieve, Coscinomancy;
by a suspended ring, Dactyliomancy;
by precious stones, Lithomancy;
by pebbles, Pessomancy;
by pebbles drawn from a heap, Psephomancy;
by mirrors, Catoptromancy;
by writings in ashes, Tephramancy;
by dreams, Oneiromancy;
by the hand, Palmistry, Chiromancy;
by nails reflecting the sun's rays, Onychomancy;
by finger rings, Dactylomancy;
by numbers, Arithmancy;
by drawing lots, Sortilege;
by passages in books, Stichomancy;
by the letters forming the name of the person, Onomancy, Nomancy;
by the features, Anthroposcopy;
by the mode of laughing, Geloscopy;
by ventriloquism, Gastromancy;
by walking in a circle, Gyromancy;
by dropping melted wax into water, Ceromancy;
by currents, Bletonism;
by the color and peculiarities of wine, Oenomancy.
Sentence Examples:
• From several hints which he threw out, I learned that he was no stranger to the science of geomancy; and he gave me to understand that he had cast the nativities of several individuals belonging to noble families; and that as their horoscopes portended, such invariably was their fate in after life. - Blackwood,  Various

• In tracing the career of the erring philosophers, or the wilful cheats, who have encouraged or preyed upon the credulity of mankind, it will simplify and elucidate the subject, if we divide it into three classes: the first comprising alchymists, or those in general who have devoted themselves to the discovering of the philosopher's stone and the water of life; the second comprising astrologers, necromancers, sorcerers, geomancers, and all those who pretended to discover futurity; and the third consisting of the dealers in charms, amulets, philters, universal-panacea mongers, touchers for the evil, seventh sons of a seventh son, sympathetic powder compounders, homoeopathists, animal magnetisers, and all the motley tribe of quacks, empirics, and charlatans. - Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay

• Systems of divination, from geomancy down to reading by tea-leaves, are merely so many methods of obscuring the outer vision, in order that the inner vision may become open. Once the method is mastered, no system is necessary at all.
Lords of the Housetops, Various


Geomancy is a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil, rocks, or sand. The most prevalent form of divinatory geomancy involves interpreting a series of 16 figures formed by a randomized process that involves recursion followed by analyzing them, often augmented with astrological interpretations.

Once practiced by people from all social classes, it was one of the most popular forms of divination throughout Africa and Europe in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Books and treatises on geomancy were published up until the 17th century when most occult traditions fell out of popularity. Geomancy has recently seen a new interest through the works of John Michael Greer and other practitioners, with more mainstream occult circles practicing and teaching geomancy.

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Tuesday, May 10, 2011


kak•i•stoc•ra•cy (kak-uh-STOK-ruh-see)  n

government under the control of a nation's worst or least-qualified citizens

1829; coined on analogy of aristocracy from Gk. kakistos "worst," superlative of kakos "bad" (which is perhaps related to the general IE word for "defecate") + -cracy

Related Words: cacophony, aristocracy

Sentence Examples:
• This should be borne in mind by any one who, in the milder light of a later and better era, is disposed to carp at Schiller for caricaturing the nobility. He was not concerned with aristocracy in general, but with the particular kakistocracy that had disgraced his native land.  - The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller, Calvin Thomas

• The people lived in darkness and vassalage. They were lost in the grossness of beef and ale. They had no pamphleteering societies to demonstrate that reading and writing are better than-meat and drink; and they were utterly destitute of the blessings of those " schools for "all," the house of correction and the treadmill, wherein the autochthonal justice of an agrestic kakistocracy now castigates the heinous sins which were then committed with impunity, of treading on old footpaths, picking up dead wood, and moving on the face of the earth within the sound of the whirr of a partridge. - The Edinburgh review, Sydney Smith

• They deserve not to have their eyes opened until they find themselves under the harrow for ever; as they assuredly will find themselves, if they do not take warning while there is yet time. If they think the government of the Church too aristocratic, they will find in ten years that they have exchanged it for a kakistocracy. - The Quarterly review, William Gifford, Sir John Taylor Coleridge, John Gibson Lockhart

Sources: Wikipedia, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Monday, May 9, 2011


yare (yahr)  adv

1. agile; lively
2. responding easily; maneuverable (nautical, used of a vessel)
3. ready; prepared (archaic) 

yarely adverb

before 900; O.E. gearo "ready," from P.Gmc. prefix *ga- + *arw-; related to gearwe "clothing, dress"

Synonyms: agile, lively; maneuverable; ready, prepared
Related Words: gear

Sentence Examples:
• Now I shall tell thee that we have striven to beat, so as not to be driven off our course, but all would not avail, wherefore for these three hours we have been running before the wind; but, fair sir, so big hath been the sea that but for our ship being of the stoutest, and our men all yare, we had all grown exceeding wise concerning the ground of the mid-main. - The Wood Beyond the World, William Morris

• Your ships are not well mann'd;
Your mariners are muleteers, reapers, people
Ingross'd by swift impress. In Caesar's fleet
Are those that often have 'gainst Pompey fought;
Their ships are yare; yours heavy. No disgrace
Shall fall you for refusing him at sea,
Being prepar'd for land.
 - The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra, William Shakespeare

• Faith, then, up foot! be yare, or, by the mass, I may forget that I am in some sort your captain and in some your debtor!  Go! - The Black Arrow, Robert Louis Stevenson

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Sunday, May 8, 2011


ar•ro•gate (AR-uh-geyt)  v tr

1. to take or claim for oneself without right; appropriate
2. to ascribe on behalf of another in an unwarranted manner
arrogated past participle; arrogated past tense; arrogating present participle; arrogates 3rd person singular present; arrogation, arrogator noun; arrogative adjective; arrogatively adverb

1537; from L. arrogatus, pp. of arrogare "to claim for oneself" from ad- "to" + rogare "ask, propose"

Synonyms: accroach, appropriate, assume, expropriate, presume; ascribe, attribute, assign
Related Words: arrogance, derogatory, surrogate, prerogative, interrogation

Sentence Examples:
• That I have foibles, and perhaps many of them, I shall not deny. I should esteem myself, as the world would, vain and empty, were I to arrogate perfection. - George Washington

• The way in which men associate for worship, or in which they consider it most remunerative to invest their efforts to forward the kingdom, gives them no right to arrogate to themselves the title of God's Church. Any body of men saying, "We are the Church," seems to me ridiculous. - What the Church Means to Me, Wilfred T. Grenfell

• Denis, however, had overcome this modesty, and felt not a whit too shamefaced to arrogate to his own learning and character the most unhesitating manifestation of their deference and respect, and they soon scrupled not to pay it.  - Going To Maynooth, William Carleton

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Saturday, May 7, 2011


qual•tagh (KWAL-tawk)  n

1. the first individual a person meets after exiting his or her house
2. the first person to enter one's house after the new year
from Manx qualtagh "first-foot"

Sentence Examples:
• "Who will be your 'first foot' this year, I wonder? It was John Storm last year, you remember, and being as dark as a gipsy, he made a perfect qualtagh. - The Christian, Hall Caine

• "Are you going to put the new year in anywhere, Philip?" said Kate, from the door of the porch.
"I should be the first-foot here, only I'm no use as a qualtagh," said Philip.
"Why not?"
"I'm a fair man, and would bring you no luck, you know."
- The Manxman, Hall Caine

• At present New Year's Day is the time when the qualtagh is of general interest, and in this case he is practically the first person one sees (besides the members of one's own household) on the morning of that day, whether that person meets one out of doors or comes to one's house.  - Folklore, Joseph Jacobs, Alfred Trübner Nutt, Arthur Robinson Wright

World Wide Words:

 The new year’s qualtagh, for luck, is supposed to be a dark-haired man. A red-headed or female qualtagh is unlucky.

Sources: Quotidian Word

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Friday, May 6, 2011


tur•o•phile (TOOR-uh-fahyl, TYOOR-, TUR-)  n

a connoisseur or lover of cheese
1938; irregular from Greek tyros "cheese" + English -phile; modern coinage; popularized by Clifton Fadiman on American TV quiz show Information Please in 1952

Sentence Examples:
• There are two schools of salamandering among turophiles. One holds that it toughens the cheese and makes it less digestible; the other that it's simply swell. - The Complete Book of Cheese, Robert Carlton Brown

• Mass-produced cheeses are frequently described as mediocre by the turophile, but in all justice it should be mentioned that not all farm-made cheeses were great and some were truly bad. - Meal management, Faye Kinder, Nancy R. Green

• “Leave the package unopened in a cupboard,”a German fellow turophile told me,“and as soon as you can smell it,it's ready to eat.” The smell, when it came, reminded me of diaper pails, a feature of my childhood that, with the advent of disposable diapers, is destined to be entirely forgotten by current and future generations. - Starting from Scratch: Memoirs of a Wandering Cook, Patty Kirk

Sources: Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster, Wiktionary

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Thursday, May 5, 2011


bom•bi•nate (BOM-buh-neyt)  v

to buzz, hum or drone

bombination noun

1880; from L. bombinare, corrupted from bombitare "to hum, buzz," from bombus "a deep, hollow sound; hum, buzz"

Synonyms:buzz, hum, drone
Related Words: bomb

Sentence Examples:
•For the same reasons for which the theatre cannot be a power for good, it cannot be a power for evil. The comedian, unless he wishes to bombinate in a vacuum — which is not the goal of the ordinary comedian's desire—can no more afford to be more immoral than he can afford to be more moral than his audience. - Rousseau and the women he loved, Francis Henry Gribble

• Like his co-workers he had been somewhat stampeded by Dorn's imitative faculties, faculties which enabled the former journalist to bombinate twice as loud in a void three times as great as any of his colleagues. - Erik Dorn, Ben Hecht

• The question as to the closer connection between ourselves and the engineers is a very broad one, and it would be unwise for us to commit ourselves at this moment to anything upon it. We must leave it to bombinate in our heads and in those of our engineering friends for some time to come. - Sessional Papers of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 1865

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Wednesday, May 4, 2011


se•qua•cious (si-KWEY-shuhs)  adj

1. logically following in regular sequence
2. lacking independence or originality of thought; slavishly unthinking and uncritical
3. disposed to follow, serve or imitate another or others, as a leader; especially unreasoningly or unthinkingly; servile; pliant
4. persisting in a continuous intellectual or stylistic direction

sequacity noun; sequaciously adverb

 1643; from L. sequac-, stem of sequax "that follows, a follower," from sequi "to follow" from PIE base *sekw- + -ous

Synonyms: compliant, following, obedient, servile, subservient
Related Words: obsequious, segue, sequence, sequel, second, consequence, ensue, suitor

Sentence Examples:
• The great city is both determined by, and determines, its environment; the great man is the product, and in turn the producer, of the culture of his nation. The human race is gregarious and sequacious, rather than individual and adventurous. - Horace and His Influence, Grant Showerman

• Ruyler endeavored to piece together those disconnected whispers--letters discovered or stolen--blackmail--but such whispers were too often the whiffs from energetic but empty minds, always floating about and never seeming to bring any culprit to book. Had this man got hold of his wife's secret? But this merely sequacious thought was promptly routed. - The Avalanche, Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton

• Milton was not an extensive or discursive thinker, as Shakspeare was; for the motions of his mind were slow, solemn, sequacious, like those of the planets; not agile and assimilative; not attracting all things within its own sphere; not multiform: repulsion was the law of his intellect--he moved in solitary grandeur. - Memorials and Other Papers, Thomas de Quincey

World Wide Words:

The adjective started out simply enough in the seventeenth century to refer to a person who was inclined to follow a leader; almost at once it took on the idea of slavishly or unreasoningly following the ideas of other people. It’s unusual but still around:

I could discern omens of nothing newer than the old fate of the sequacious: to be for ever at the mercy of the exploiting proclivities of the bold and buccaneering in their bullying and greed.
Prelude to Waking, by Miles Franklin, 1950

Other senses you may very occasionally come across are of a thing that follows another with logic and unwavering direction of thought or form, or of musical notes that succeed each other with unvarying regularity (Coleridge described “long sequacious notes” in a poem). I’d guess this is the sense meant in this rare modern example:

When she closed her fingers around it, the shapes flared briefly once more, and she saw that they were indeed runes: inexplicable to her, but sequacious and acute.
Fatal Revenant, by Stephen R Donaldson, 2007.

To call writing non-sequacious is to say that it lacks logic, that it jumps about from one topic to another and that it’s replete with non-sequiturs. That word is appropriate, since both sequacious and sequitur are from the Latin verb sequi, to follow, from which we also get sequel and sequence. The immediate source of sequacious is sequax, following; sequitur is the third-person present tense of sequi, meaning “it follows”, though it so often doesn’t that we mainly use the negative.

Sources: Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com, World Wide Words, Online Etymology , WordSmith

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Tuesday, May 3, 2011


mac•e•rate (MAS-uh-reyt) 

1. to make soft by soaking or steeping in a liquid
2. to separate into constituents by soaking
3. to cause to become lean, usually as if by excessive fasting
4. to become soft or separated into constituents by soaking
5. to become thin
macerated past participle; macerated past tense; macerating present participle; macerates 3rd person singular present; macerater, macerator, maceration noun; macerative adjective

1547; from L. maceratus, pp. of macerare "soften," related to maceria "garden wall," originally "of kneaded clay," from PIE base *mag-/*meg- "to knead"

Synonyms: liquefy, emaciate, soak, soften, steep
Related Words: mason

Sentence Examples:
• An emulsion of almonds is useful in chest affections. It is made by well macerating the nuts in a nut butter machine, and mixing with orange or lemon juice. - Food Remedies, Florence Daniel

• Take large fresh berries. Wash and drain thoroughly. Macerate and strain the juice through a piece of muslin. - The Woman Beautiful, Helen Follett Stevans

• Place the galls and the cloves in a gallon bottle, pour upon them the water, and let them macerate, with frequent agitation, for a fortnight. Press, and filter through paper into another gallon bottle. - Printing Recipes, J. Sawtelle Ford

Sources: Free Dictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Monday, May 2, 2011


fu•ga•cious (fyoo-GEY-shuhs)  adj

1. lasting a short time; evanescent; fleeting; transitory
2. withering, fading or dropping off early (botany)

fugaciousness, fugacity noun;  fugaciously adverb

1634; from L. fugaci, stem of fugax "apt to flee, timid," figuratively "transitory, fleeting," from fugere "to flee" from PIE base *bheug- "to flee" + -ous

Synonyms: transitory, brief, ephemeral, evanescent, fleeting, impermanent, momentary, passing, short-lived, temporal, temporary, transient
Related Words: fugitive, centrifugal, refuge, subterfuge

Sentence Examples:
• It is superior to all its congeners in the brilliancy of its colour, nor are its blossoms so fugacious as many of the other species. - The Botanical Magazine, William Curtis

• Nothing in the world is without import: what women spend for their toilet, the resistance that men make from day to day to the temptations of the commonest pleasures, the new and petty needs that insinuate themselves unconsciously into the habits of all; the reading, the conversations, the impressions, even the most fugacious that pass in our spirit--all these things, little and innumerable, that no historian registers, have contributed to produce this revolution, that war, this catastrophe, that political overturn, which men wonder at and study as a prodigy. - Characters and events of Roman History, Guglielmo Ferrero

• As sensibility returned, and before he had opened his eyes, he uttered a sentence about the fugacious nature of consciousness, from which he passed to a discussion of the singular relations between the soul and the body.  - About London, J. Ewing Ritchie

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

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

Word of The Day for Sunday, May 1, 2011


whee•dle (HWEED-l, WEED-l)  v

1. to endeavor to influence (a person) by smooth, flattering, or beguiling words or acts
2. to persuade (a person) by such words or acts
3. to obtain (something) by artful persuasions
wheedled past participle; wheedled past tense; wheedling present participle; wheedles 3rd person singular present

1661, origin uncertain, perhaps connected with O.E. wædlian "to beg" (from wædl "poverty"), or borrowed by Eng. soldiers in the 17c. German wars from Ger. wedeln "wag the tail," hence "fawn, flatter"

Synonyms: blandish, cajole, charm, coax, con, entice, finagle, flatter, inveigle, persuade, worm

Sentence Examples:
• The larger Tidger children took the solids of their breakfast up and down the stone-flagged court outside, coming in occasionally to gulp draughts of very weak tea from a gallipot or two which stood on the table, and to wheedle Mr. Tidger out of any small piece of bloater which he felt generous enough to bestow. - A Golden Venture, W.W. Jacobs

• But I speak for myself only when I say that I would gladly wheedle old, gray-bearded Tempus into making the wheels click backward till I could see again the buffalo-herds darkening the green of Northwestern prairies.  - Raw Gold, Bertrand W. Sinclair

• The strength of the proletarian party was on the streets; that of the small traders' class was in the National Assembly itself. The point was, accordingly, to wheedle them out of the National Assembly into the street, and to have them break their parliamentary power themselves, before time and opportunity could consolidate them. - The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day