Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 07, 2013 is:
albeit \awl-BEE-it\ conjunction
: conceding the fact that : even though : although
Troy has finally landed a role in a Broadway play, albeit as a minor character.
"Earth is an afterthoughtjust one of the 'nine realms,' albeit the one with Natalie Portman." From a movie review by Jake Coyleap in The Daily Commercial (Leesburg, Florida), November 7, 2013
Did you know?
Speakers of Middle English formed "albeit" from a combination of "al" ("all, completely") with "be" and "it," creating this word which literally means "although it be." Use of "albeit" seemed to drop off a bit in the 19th century, but in the middle of the 20th century several usage commentators observed that the "archaic" word was making a comeback. The "archaic" descriptor was not entirely apt; "albeit" may have become less common for a while but it never really went out of use. It is true, however, that use of "albeit" has increased considerably since the 1930s, judging by evidence in Merriam-Webster's files.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 06, 2013 is:
hibernaculum \hye-ber-NAK-yuh-lum\ noun
: a shelter occupied during the winter by a dormant animal (as an insect or reptile)
"The affliction has spread and stands to threaten major bat hibernacula to the south and west." From an article by Curtis Runyan in Nature Conservancy, Winter 2009
"The Game Commission estimates that close to 100,000 bats hibernated in Long Run Mine as recently as two years ago, making it the largest hibernaculum in the state then." From an article by Mary Ann Thomas in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, October 28, 2013
Did you know?
If you're afraid of snakes or bats, you probably won't enjoy thinking about a hibernaculum, where hundreds, even thousands, of these creatures might be passing the wintry months. Other creatures also use hibernacula, though many of these tend to be a bit inconspicuous. The word "hibernaculum" has been used for the burrow of a woodchuck, for instance, as well as for a cozy caterpillar cocoon attached to a wintry twig, and for the spot in which a frog has buried itself in the mud. Hibernacula are all around us and have been around for a long, long time, but we have only called them such since 1770. In case you are wondering, "hibernate" didn't come into being until the second decade of the 19th century. Both words come from Latin "hibernare," meaning "to pass the winter."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 05, 2013 is:
quibble \KWIB-ul\ verb
1 : to evade the point of an argument by caviling about words 2 a : cavil, carp b : bicker 3 : to subject to minor objections or criticisms
There always seemed to be one person at the meeting who wanted to quibble over the fine points rather than focus on the larger plan.
"I could quibble about some points in the job search section but the author is so generous with her advice and samples that I'd rather not pick at the little things." From an article by Amy Lindgren in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 9, 2013
Did you know?
"Quibble" can also be a noun meaning "an evasion of or shift from the point" or "a minor objection or criticism." Both forms of the word arrived in English in the mid-17th century. Presumably (though not certainly) "quibble" originated as a diminutive of a now obsolete word, "quib," which also meant "quibble." In fact, although language experts may quibble over this, there is a possibility that "quib" can be traced back to the plural of the Latin word "qui," meaning "who," which was often used in legal documents. If so, that makes "quibble" a very distant cousin of the English word "who."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 04, 2013 is:
benefic \buh-NEF-ik\ adjective
: producing good or helpful results or effects : beneficial
Coach Reed is a strong proponent of the view that participation in sports has a benefic influence on young people.
"The benefic properties of potassium hydrate have made it a commonly found element in many natural remedies." From a press release from SBWire, July 15, 2013
Did you know?
"Benefic" comes from Latin "beneficus," which in turn comes from "bene" ("well") and "facere" ("to do"). The word was originally used by astrologers to refer to celestial bodies believed to have a favorable influence, and it's still used in astrological contexts. "Benefic," "beneficent," and "beneficial" are all synonyms, but there are shades of difference. "Beneficial" usually applies to things that promote well-being (as in "beneficial treatment"), or that provide some benefit or advantage (as in "beneficial classes"). "Beneficent" means doing or effecting good (as in "a beneficent climate"), but in particular refers to the performance of acts of kindness or charity (as in "a beneficent organization")."Benefic," the rarest of the three, tends to be a bit high-flown, and it's mostly used to describe a favorable power or force.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 03, 2013 is:
lacuna \luh-KOO-nuh\ noun
1 : a blank space or a missing part : gap; also : deficiency, inadequacy 2 : a small cavity, pit, or discontinuity in an anatomical structure
The newly discovered Civil War documents will fill many lacunae in the museum's archives.
"There are some peculiar lacunae in this volume, however. While Mr. Ellsworth-Jones quotes from earlier interviews (mainly via e-mail) that Banksy has dispensed over the years to others, he did not bother to submit his own e-mail questions
." From a book review by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times, February 8, 2013
Did you know?
Exploring the etymology of "lacuna" involves taking a plunge into the pitor maybe a leap into the "lacus" (that's the Latin word for "lake"). Latin speakers modified "lacus" into "lacuna," and used it to mean "pit," "cleft," or "pool." English speakers borrowed the term in the 17th century. It is usually pluralized as "lacunae," as in our example sentences, though "lacunas" is also an accepted variant plural. Another English word that traces its origin to "lacuna" is "lagoon," which came to us by way of Italian and French.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 02, 2013 is:
inveigh \in-VAY\ verb
: to protest or complain bitterly or vehemently : rail
Several property owners wrote letters to the paper inveighing against the high property taxes that they are required to pay.
"The anti-mine forces recruited personalities such as filmmaker and actor Robert Redford to inveigh against the project; companies such as Tiffany & Co. and Zale Corp. and dozens of others signed pledges to boycott the mine's products
." From an article by James Greiff in the Anchorage Daily News, October 2, 2013
Did you know?
You might complain or grumble about some wrong you see, or, for a stronger effect, you can "inveigh" against it. "Inveigh" comes from the Latin verb "invehere," which joins the prefix "in-" with the verb "vehere," meaning "to carry." "Invehere" literally means "to carry in," and when "inveigh" first appeared in English, it was also used to mean "to carry in" or "to introduce." Extended meanings of "invehere," however, are "to force one's way into," "attack," and "to assail with words," and that's where the current sense of "inveigh" comes from. A closely related word is "invective," which means "insulting or abusive language." This word, too, ultimately comes from "invehere."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 01, 2013 is:
clochard \kloh-SHAHR\ noun
: vagrant, tramp
"Yesterday, the pope lunched at a soup kitchen
sitting down to table with 100 of the 2,000 clochards who regularly eat there." From an article by Paddy Agnew in the Irish Times, December 28, 2009
"The character, played by Michel Simon, is an archetypal French clochard, a kind of Gallic version of Chaplin's Little Tramp, who, mourning his lost dog, tries to off himself by jumping in the Seine." From an article by Stephen Heyman in The New York Times, September 15, 2013
Did you know?
Why such a fancy French word for a bum? The truth of the matter is, nine times out of ten, you will find "clochard" used for not just any bum, but a French bumeven more specifically, a Parisian bum. And, sometimes, it's even a certain type of Parisian buma type that has been romanticized in literature and is part of the local color. Nevertheless, as français as this word (which comes from the French verb "clocher," meaning "to limp") may seem, its regular appearance in English sources since 1937 makes it an English word, too.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 30, 2013 is:
lollapalooza \lah-luh-puh-LOO-zuh\ noun
: one that is extraordinarily impressive; also : an outstanding example
The device, which is due out this spring, is being touted as the lollapalooza of smart phones.
"This drink, at $38 a glass in South Beach, is a real lollapalooza." From an article by Malcolm Berko in NewsOK (Oklahoma), October 20, 2013
Did you know?
Some readers may recognize "lollapalooza" as the name of an American music festival, now held annually in Chicago. Actually, the word "lollapalooza" has been around since at least the 1890s, though etymologists aren't sure where it comes from. Occasionally, it has been used as a gambling term for a made-up hand used to trick an inexperienced playerbut primarily the term is used in a way very similar to "humdinger" and "doozy." It is spelled in a number of ways. "Lallapalooza," "lalapalooza," and "lollapaloosa" are among the variants, and in the past it was sometimes "lalapaloozer." Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist Rube Goldberg may have contributed to the popularity of this term with "Lala Palooza," one of his cartoon characters from the 1930s.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 29, 2013 is:
tomfoolery \tahm-FOO-luh-ree\ noun
: playful or foolish behavior
"Scott Ferber grew up one of three boys in a house with a strict mother who did not tolerate any tomfoolery." From an article by Sarah Gantz in the Baltimore Business Journal, October 18, 2013
"People's success also signaled a shift in the overall tone of print journalism, away from the stentorian voice of Time, the literariness of The New Yorker, and the New Journalism tomfoolery of New York and Esquire, to something looser, more image-saturated, and obviously market-friendly." From an article by Jim Windolf in Vanity Fair, October 16, 2013
Did you know?
In the Middle Ages, "Thome Fole" was a name assigned to those perceived to be of little intelligence. This eventually evolved into the spelling "tomfool," which, when capitalized, also referred to a professional clown or a buffoon in a play or pageant. The name "Tom" seems to have been chosen for its common-man quality, much like "Joe Blow" for an ordinary person or "Johnny Reb" for a soldier in the Confederate army, but "tomfoolery" need not apply strictly to actions by men. In Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables (1908), for example, Marilla Cuthbert complains of Anne: "She's gadding off somewhere with Diana, writing stories or practicing dialogues or some such tomfoolery, and never thinking once about the time or her duties."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 28, 2013 is:
foison \FOY-zun\ noun
1 : archaic : rich harvest 2 : chiefly Scottish : physical energy or strength 3 : plural, obsolete : resources
"Earth's increase, foison plenty, / Barns and garners* never empty; / Vines with clust'ring bunches growing, / Plants with goodly burden bowing.
" From Shakespeare's 1623 play The Tempest
"Thither the extremely large wains bring foison of the fields
." From James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses
[*"Garner" can refer to a building or a bin in which grain is stored. It is entered in Merriam-Webster's Unabridged.]
Did you know?
The definition of "foison" is amply supplied with labels; they appear at each of the definition's three senses, and they all suggest that it's unlikely that you'll come across "foison" in your general reading. The word did appear, however, in some reading material that was probably familiar to some of the Mayflower's pilgrims: the late 16th century sermons of Henry Smith. One of those sermons included the following: "Such a foison hath your alms, that by the blessing of God
it increases like the widow's meal
." "Foison" comes from Latin "fusion-, fusio," meaning "outpouring," which in turn comes from "fundere," meaning "to pour"the same source as that of the words "profuse" and "refund," among others.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 27, 2013 is:
divers \DYE-verz\ adjective
: made up of an indefinite number greater than one : various
descended from the issue of Dudleys who managed to escape Bloody Mary's ax as well as the divers other perils of Tudor England." From an article by Christopher Buckley in the Architectural Digest, April 1989
"The tale that unfolds touches on such divers themes as a world-wide terror conspiracy, bioweapons, automated submarine drones, a Vatican spy, and even the lost kingdom of Atlantis." From a book review by Gloria Feit in the Reviewer's Bookwatch, May 1, 2013
Did you know?
Did you think we had misspelled "diverse"? We didn't! "Divers" is a word in its own right, albeit a fairly formal and uncommon one. Both words come from Latin "diversus," meaning "turning in opposite directions," and until around 1700 they were pretty much interchangeableboth meant "various" and could be pronounced as either DYE-verz (like the plural of the noun "diver") or dye-VERSS. Both words still carry the "various" meaning, but these days "divers" (now DYE-verz) is more likely to emphasize multiplicity (as in "on divers occasions"), whereas "diverse" (now dye-VERSS) usually emphasizes uniqueness. "Diverse" typically means either "dissimilar" (as in "a variety of activities to appeal to the children's diverse interests") or "having distinct or unlike elements or qualities" ("a diverse student body").