Word of the Day

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Kudos (ko͞oˈdōzˌ, -dōsˌ, -dŏsˌ, kyo͞oˈ-)
noun

Acclaim or praise for exceptional achievement.

Origin: Greek kūdos, magical glory.

Usage Note: Kudos is one of those words like congeries that look like plurals but are etymologically singular. Acknowledging the Greek history of the term requires Kudos is (not are) due her for her brilliant work on the score. But kudos has often been treated as a plural, especially in the popular press, as in She received many kudos for her work. This plural use has given rise to the singular form kudo. These innovations follow the pattern whereby the English words pea and cherry were shortened from nouns ending in an (s) sound (English pease and French cerise), that were mistakenly thought to be plural. The singular kudo remains far less common than the plural use; both are often viewed as incorrect in more formal contexts. • It is worth noting that even people who are careful to treat kudos only as a singular often pronounce it as if it were a plural. Etymology would require that the final consonant be pronounced as a voiceless (s), as we do in pathos, another word derived from Greek, rather than as a voiced (z).
 
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    Pandiculation (noun)

    Pronunciation: [pوn-di-kyê-'ley-shun]

    Definition: Stretching the body and extremities when drowsy or tired, usually accompanied by yawning, especially when going to bed or waking; also, around the office, a pastime for those who work at a computer (I should know).

    Usage: This is a great, albeit rare word, but the slightest bit of context explains it to your (underprivileged) friends who do not subscribe to YDC's Word of the Day: "Archibald could have lounged around all day in a state of constant pandiculation, but the grass wanted mowing." Mentally immobilize your kids (or their teacher) with gems like this: "Thirty minutes into Mr. Furman's driver's ed refresher course, the class was rippling with pandiculation."

    Suggested Usage: The verb is "pandiculate" and the agent noun is "pandiculator." The term is used by those who not only do not eschew obfuscation but wallow in it with great relish.

    Etymology: Latin pandiculari "to stretch one's self" from pandere "to spread out" + icul (diminutive element "a little"). The underlying PIE root * pen- with variable "pull, stretch, spin" not only gave German spannen "stretch, span" and English "span" and "spin," but the Latin verb pendere "to weigh" behind "pendant," "pendulum," "pensive," and "depend." (For a larger slice of PIE, have a look at "How is a Hippo like a Feather?" in YDC's library.)
     
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    Iconoclast (noun)

    Pronunciation: [I-'kahn-ê-klوst]

    Definition: Someone who attacks or violates cherished beliefs and institutions; someone who destroys sacred images.

    Usage: Certainly Igor Stravinsky was an iconoclastic composer and Pablo Picasso, an artistic iconoclast. Both broke cherished ideals of what art and music were supposed to be in order to blaze new trails. Iconoclasm of one generation tends to become the traditional of the next. A decade ago body piercing and tattoos were iconclastic; today this sort of body art is passé. Next, it will fall into desuetude.

    Suggested Usage: Iconoclasts behave iconoclastically, exhibiting their iconoclasm. The latest literal iconoclasts were the Taliban, who destroyed what were the largest images of Buddha in the world in March of 2001. Their prohibition on TV and motion pictures was also iconoclastic behavior.

    Etymology: From Medieval Greek "eikonoklasts" based on eikon, “image, picture,” and –klasts, “breaker” from klan “to break.” The original iconoclast was Byzantine Emperor Leo III, who prohibited religious images (icons) in Greece from 726 on the grounds they had become idols, worshipped for their magical powers. Empress Theodora lifted the ban in 843. Countless works of religious art were destroyed in the intervening century. Iconoclasm reared its head again during the Protestant Reformation when images were again taken to be idolatrous and were once again destroyed.
     
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    Colloquial (adjective)

    Pronunciation: [kê-'lok-wi-yêl]

    Definition: Characteristic of ordinary, informal speech, conversational rather than written speech style.

    Usage: Colloquial English is not slang, which characterizes a single group and changes with each generation ("swell" of the 40's, "far-out" of the 60's, "awesome" of the 90's) nor is it nonstandard, as "he ain't" or "with Jonas and I." It is used by everyone in at least one dialectal group but only in conversation as "la-di-da," "fly off the handle," "climb the wall," or "stick-to-it-iveness." Such expressions are called "colloquialisms," acceptable in speech but not in formal writing.

    Suggested Usage: Today's word was abandoned and forgotten by its mother, "colloquy." "Colloquy" originally meant simply "conversation" but today it, and the original Latin "colloquium," refer to the elevated conversations of scholars in an informal conference-like gathering. The adjective, however, survived and grew up, producing its own offspring, "colloquialism," which means a colloquial word or phrase appropriate only for conversation.

    Etymology: "Colloquy" comes from Latin colloquium "conversation" from colloqui "to converse" from com- "with" + loqui "speak," also found in "elocution," "grandiloquent," "soliloquy," and "ventriloquy," itself from Latin venter "belly" + loqui "speak" = a belly-speaker.
     
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    Palindrome (noun)

    Pronunciation: ['pو-lin-drom]

    Definition: A number, word, or phrase that reads the same backwards as forwards, e.g. "2002" (number), "don't nod" (letters) or "food is food" (words).

    Usage: There are letter palindromes: Senile felines; Dennis sinned; Dee saw a seed; Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron; Mr. Owl ate my metal worm. There are palindromes in foreign languages—Elu par cette crapule "Elected by this creep;" German: Ein Ledergurt trug Redel nie "Redel never wore a leather belt;" Latin: Subi dura a rudibus "Endure rough treatment from uncultured brutes." Finally, there are word palindromes, such as "All for one and one for all" (Alexandre Dumas, 'The Three Musketeers', 1844). "So patient a doctor to doctor a patient so."

    Suggested Usage: This week we celebrated a rare palindromic date (the adjective of today's word). October 2, 2001 (10 02 2001) was the first such since August 31, 1380 (08 31 1380). The next will be January 2, 2010 (01 02 2010). Of course, in Europe, where the day precedes the month in writing dates, the next palindromic date will be 01 February 2010 (01 02 2010).

    Etymology: From Greek palindromos "running back again" from palin "back, again" + dromos "race, running." Related to hippodromos "chariot road" from hippos "horse" + dromos "running, race(-course)." Akin to "syndrome" from Greek sundromos "running together" made up of sun-, syn- "with, together" + dromos."
     
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    Cachinnation (noun)

    Pronunciation: [kak-uh-`ney-shuh]

    Definition: Convulsive, hysterical, or immoderate laughter.

    Usage: Cachinnations are perhaps best exemplified by the Joker in The Dark Knight. His laughter is unsettling at best, and it demonstrates that he might not be “all there” upstairs. Instead of merely using the word cachinnation, try out some cachinnations of your own when you’re at the mall with friends. When they begin walking away slowly, shout after them: “Are you scared? Are you scared of my cachinnations?!” Everyone in the store will be impressed by your vocabulary.

    Suggested Usage: A cachinnation may best be described as “crazy” laughter, the kind that makes a person seem just slightly off-kilter. Indeed, the word is described in early dictionaries as being indicative of hysteria or mania. Many medical dictionaries list cachinnations as being “without apparent cause,” suggesting that the compulsive qualities observed when the word was first defined in English have not died out completely. A cachinnation, of course, need not indicate the presence of mental illness, as the word may now be used to mean any immoderate amount of laughter.

    Etymology: Like many words in the English language, cachinnation is from the Latin cachinnationem, which is an action noun of the word cachinnare, to laugh aloud. The word is onomatopoetic, meaning the sound of the word was meant to imitate the sound of the action—similarly to the way a “cackle” imitates the laugh of a witch.
     
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    Evanescent (adjective)

    Pronunciation: [e-vê-'ne-sênt]

    Definition: Tending to vanish like vapor, transient.

    Usage: This is a beautiful word used far too rarely. Evanescent puffs of steam emerge from our mouths on chilly mornings and pleasant days evanesce all too quickly. There are a variety of sterling uses this word will serve: "Money leads such an evanescent existence in my pocket, I shall never be wealthy." Then again, maybe it is beautiful because of its rarity.

    Suggested Usage: The noun is "evanescence" and the verb is evanesce "to vanish quickly into thin air."

    Etymology: Latin evanescens, present participle of evanescere "to vanish, disappear" from e(x) "from" + vanescere "vanish" from van-us "empty." Akin to "vanish."
     
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    Contentious (adjective)

    Pronunciation: [kên-'ten-chês]

    Definition: Quarrelsome, argumentative for no reason; given to opposing whatever is said or done.

    Usage: Hopefully, you will have no use for this word except metaphorical use. "I have a contentious door that will only open half way" suggests the door resists attempts to open it. "My car can be contentious on cold, winter mornings," means it often opposes being started. Contentious friends and co-workers no one needs.

    Suggested Usage: The verb is "contend" (to compete for control, to challenge, to strive in opposition to). The noun "contention" is derived from the verb and "contentious" is derived from the noun. Do not confuse this word with "conscientious" (following the dictates of one's conscience, assiduous). Working conscientiously is a good thing; working contentiously is counterproductive.

    Etymology: Latin con- "with" + tendere "to stretch, extend." Akin to tenuis "thin" via the PIE root *ten- which also underlies English "thin," and Greek tenon "tendon," ton-e "stretching a note at the same pitch," and ton-os "a cord, band" (that which may be stretched). (See "How is a Hippopotamus like a Feather?" in yourDictionary.com's library for more on PIE.)
     
    SteffitA

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    It's one of THE most useful threads ... thumb UP Picasso :) great job :thumbup:
     
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    Imbue (verb)

    Pronunciation: [im-'byu]

    Definition: Originally used to refer to dyeing, this verb now means to infuse a substance into something or an idea into someone until it permeates their entire being, as a dye permeates the material it soaks.

    Usage: Imbue implies that some element takes possession of the object it is infused into: "Miriam was imbued with such a passion for good causes, she had little time for petty pleasures." This verb is associated with color and attitudes. A person may be imbued with patriotism or a sense of history. You might imbue a story with local color (get the pun?), or a picture with the aura of a winter evening.

    Suggested Usage: "Infuse" implies the introduction of a new element, as in "Jose infused the group with a new enthusiasm." "Instill" implies a gradual imbuement of an attitude: "A parent should instill a sense of frugality in their children before they attain a credit rating."

    Etymology: Latin imbuere "to wet, soak, saturate; give initial instruction" from in- "in" and *bu-, possibly from PIE *poi- "drink', as in Russian pi-t' "to drink".
     
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    VOCABULARY BUILDING

    ways of saying about

    The flight takes approximately three hours.

    The tickets cost about £20 each.

    The repairs will cost $200, give or take a few dollars.

    How much will it cost, more or less?

    We are expecting thirty or so people to come.

    She must be 25 or thereabouts.

    Profits have fallen by roughly 15%.

    You can expect to earn round about £40,000 a year.

    The price is somewhere around $800.

    She earns somewhere in the region of £25,000.

    All these words and phrases are used in both speaking and writing; about is the most common and approximately the most formal.


    Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
     
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    Glower (verb)

    Pronunciation: ['gla-wêr]

    Definition: To stare menacingly.

    Usage: Glowering always bothers people, so it is usually used defensively: "I hate it when mama glowers at me until I start my homework." "My dad doesn't speak but just glowers when I come home late." Here's another useful use: "You don't have to glower like that just because I smashed one burger in your cargo pants!"

    Suggested Usage: In the motion picture world glowering is known as "the slow burn," an expression of barely contained fury with the eyes focused on the person at fault.

    Etymology: Middle English gloren, possibly from Norwegian dialect glyra "to look askance." It is less likely a blend of glare + scour "search" (ME glaren + scuren).
     
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    Potlatch (noun)

    Pronunciation: ['pat-lوch]

    Definition: A social event, especially one given to express the wealth and generosity of the host in expectation of something in return.

    Usage: Domestic applications of the word abound: "Putting on this potlatch for my parents doesn't incline me to marry Lester any more than before." Obviously, the corporate social world has plenty of room for it, "Raymond spent more on this lavish potlatch than his raise would cover if it succeeded and he was promoted." The important difference between a potlatch and a party is the intent of the giver: they are expecting something in return.

    Suggested Usage: This word is rarely used outside the Northwestern regions of the US despite the fact that it fills a lacuna in the English vocabulary. The potlatch was a ceremony given by someone aspiring to be a chief and hence displaying his wealth (often expensive gifts were destroyed to demonstrate the power and wealth of the aspirant). Does that ring a bell? If not, maybe the examples below will.

    Etymology: From the Chinook Creole "potlatch" taken from the Nootka potlach "gift, to give." The Nootka are a Northwestern indigenous American people. The letters "tl" represent a particular sound in Nootka and other native American languages comprising an "l" and "t" pronounced simultaneously rather than two contiguous sounds. The word "coyote," for example, derives from Nahuatl (Mexico) "koyotl" with the same sound. (Our gratitude to MB for another useful word given to English by America's autochthonous nations.)
     
    Picasso

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    WHICH WORD?

    above * over

    Above and over can both be used to describe a position higher than something: They built a new room above/ over the garage. When you are talking about movement from one side of something to the other, you can only use over: They jumped over the stream. Over can also mean 'covering': He put a blanket over the sleeping child.

    Above and over can also mean 'more than'. Above is used in relation to a minimum level or a fixed point: 2000 feet above sea level * Temperatures will not rise above zero tonight. Over is used with numbers, ages, money and time: He's over 50 * It costs over £100 * We waited over 2 hours.

    Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
     
    shadow1

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    WHICH WORD?

    above * over

    Above and over can both be used to describe a position higher than something: They built a new room above/ over the garage. When you are talking about movement from one side of something to the other, you can only use over: They jumped over the stream. Over can also mean 'covering': He put a blanket over the sleeping child.

    Above and over can also mean 'more than'. Above is used in relation to a minimum level or a fixed point: 2000 feet above sea level * Temperatures will not rise above zero tonight. Over is used with numbers, ages, money and time: He's over 50 * It costs over £100 * We waited over 2 hours.

    Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
    Thank you Picasso for your persistence on educating us and sharing with us your knolwedge like a good Lebanese man often does.

    We now know enough words to write a short novel excpet that we might encounter a problem remembering what these words mean. Failing to understand one's own writing isn't too much fun.

    In any case we owe you a great gratitude for bringing us these linguistic delights and all those chances we might have to impress those less fluent with the English language. Even superiority has its fleeting rewards.
     
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    Sardonic (adjective)

    Pronunciation: [sahr-'dah-nik]

    Definition: Disdainful or cynically derisive, especially in facial or verbal expression.

    Usage: Sardonic remarks often follow ambiguous statements: "Joe is an unusual wit,' said Fred. 'That's true,' Marge remarked sardonically," or fit ridiculous situations: "Murray's marriage proposal received nothing but a sardonic smile from Eloise."

    Suggested Usage: "Sarcastic" implies a derision intended to hurt someone. "Ironic" implies an amusingly provocative disparity between intended or done and what is said. "Sardonic" implies a cynical derision expressed either verbally or facially.

    Etymology: From Greek sardanios "scornful (smiles or laughter)" from "sardane," a Sardinian plant (Sardinian crowfoot, Ranunculus Sardous) which causes grimacing when eaten. Later Greek authors wrote "sardonios" (from Sardo "Sardinia") which the French borrowed as "sardonique," whence the English word.
     
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    Edentate (adjective)

    Pronunciation: [ee-'den-teyt]

    Definition: Lacking teeth (the dental correlate of "bald"). The antonym of dentate "having or shaped like teeth."

    Usage:
    The concrete uses of this word are rather obvious, "Her biscuits are not for the weak or edentate." But why not abstract extensions like, "Has congress passed another edentate law restricting handguns?" Rather than threatening to knock someone's teeth out, try, "If you don't leave me alone I'll edentate you!" If that doesn't return everyone's sense of humor, nothing will.

    Suggested Usage: The verb, also "edentate," means to extract or otherwise remove teeth. "Edentation" is the noun from the verb. "Edentulous" [ee-'den-tyu-lês] or [ee-'den-chê-lês] has the same meaning as "edentate," deriving from Latin "edentulus" with the same meaning. The term is common in biology in referring to animals without teeth (ducks?)

    Etymology: From the past participle ("edentatus") Latin edentare "to knock out the teeth." Latin dens, dentis "tooth" is akin to Sanskrit "dantas," Greek "odous," Gothic "tunthus," German "Zahn," and English "tooth," which seems to have lost the "n" somewhere along the way. The original PIE word was the present participle of *ed- "eat, bite": *ed-ent = "biting, biter."
     
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    Sycophant (noun)

    Pronunciation: ['sik-ê-fênt]

    Definition: Someone who flatters people of influence in hopes of having some influence spent in her direction; a person who seeks to further himself by licking the boots of his superiors; a "yes man."

    Usage: "Julian is proud of his independence; there's not a sycophantic bone in his body" exemplifies the adjectival form of the word. "Dieter thought that he maintained his dignity, but we thought he performed sycophantically before his superiors all evening," illustrates the adverb.

    Suggested Usage: The rather worn joke goes something like this—Lackey: "Yes, boss, whatever you say, boss." Boss: "'Yes? Yes? Why do you say 'yes' to whatever I say? What kind of sycophant are you?" Lackey: "Um, what kind do you want me to be?" The noun is "sycophancy."

    Etymology: From Latin sycophanta "informer, slanderer" from Greek sykophantes "informer." "Sykophantes" comprises sykon "fig" + -phantes "one who shows or displays." The stem of "-phantes" also gives us "photo" and its PIE root "bha-" turns up in English "beacon" and "banner"—all rather showy things, like the sycophant showing obeisance.
     
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    Claque (noun)

    Pronunciation: ['klوk]

    Definition: People at the theatre paid to applaud or react in the way the producers want the audience to react, a kind of crowd seeding; a clique of subservient supporters.

    Usage: "Tom and Ray Magliozzi of 'Car Talk' have a clique and a claque following their radio show in France," would mean that some of the people who follow the Tappet Brothers are independent-minded, just united by their love of the brothers' lubricating wit, while others follow them blindly. "We were having a substantive discussion when the boss and his claque of toadies came in and derailed it."

    Suggested Usage: A "clique" is an exclusive group of people united by a common interest. A "claque" is an exclusive group whose interest is provided by those who rent them.

    Etymology: French claque "a clap" itself of onomatopoetic (imitative) origin.
     
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