Word of the Day

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Gulag (noun)

Pronunciation: ['gu-lahg]

Definition: One of the prison camps spread across the Soviet Union from Vladimir, Russia eastward used ostensibly to reeducate criminals, most of whom were political prisoners until the rise of Khrushchev. A particularly harsh prison.

Usage: This is a word that does not invoke pleasant connotations, "I don't work with a company; I work at a gulag where you lose all your rights the moment you step through the door." The assumption is that a gulag is worse than the worst prison: "I think Cyril would make a better gulag commandant than customer relations manager."

Suggested Usage: Popularized in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago" (1973), a historical documentation of many of the prisoners in these camps. After the death of Stalin, Khrushchev released most surviving political prisoners but the Soviet Union continued to use psychiatric wards and internal exile to punish citizens who simply wished to express a contrary opinion of the government.

Etymology: Russian acronym from Glavnoe Upravlenie (ispravitel'no-trudovykh) LAGerei "chief administration of (corrective-labor) camps." For more insight into these camps, read Solzhenitsyn's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich."
 
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  • Picasso

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    WHICH WORD?

    altogether * all together

    Altogether and all together do not mean the same thing. Altogether means 'in total' or (in BrE) 'completely': We have invited fifty people altogether. * I am not altogether convinced by this argument.

    All together means 'all in one place' or 'all at once': Can you put your books all together in this box? * Let's sing 'Happy Birthday'. All together now!
     
    Picasso

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    Pyrrhic (adjective)

    Pronunciation: ['pir-ik]

    Definition: Used in the phrase "Pyrrhic victory," meaning a victory with losses or costs so great, it's no victory at all.

    Usage: Arguably, every victory in war is Pyrrhic because the costs of any battle are always too great. Pyrrhic victories often win the battle but lose the campaign: "Besting Lettucia in the state salad-making finals turned into a Pyrrhic victory for Leonard when Lettucia returned the engagement ring to him the following day." Revenge is generally Pyrrhic in that, having achieved it, the avenger usually feels sympathy for his victim.

    Suggested Usage: Today's word is usually capitalized, since it comes from a proper name (see the Etymology). It is used almost exclusively in the phrase "Pyrrhic victory." As a noun it can refer to an ancient Greek military dance, the pyrrhic, or a metric foot in poetry comprising two unaccented syllables.

    Etymology: The eponym of today's word is Pyrrhus (318-272 BC), a Greek king of Epirus who fought the Roman Empire. Twice, he defeated the Romans, at Heraclea (280) and Asculum (279), but suffered such loses that he is quoted after the second battle in Plutarch's 'Lives' as saying, "One more victory like this will be the end of me." Legend has it that Pyrrhus also invented the pyrrhic dance, hence its name. Perhaps he would have sustained fewer losses had he focused more on the battlefield and less on the dance floor.
     
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    Sisyphean (adjective)

    Pronunciation: [si-sê-'fee-ên]

    Definition: Endlessly laborious and futile; also, related to Sisyphus, as "the Sisyphean story" (see Etymology).

    Usage: Today's word refers to a task that is both difficult and futile (sound familiar?) "Denise tired of the Sisyphean task of gardening, so she took her perennials, planted them in the lawn, and now lets them fend for themselves." You have probably already associated this word with the workplace: "Pleasing everyone in the office was a Sisyphean task that Sissy no longer took seriously."

    Suggested Usage: A friend of today's correspondent once was the official ombudsman for New York City—a sisyphean task if ever there was one. There is no other form of today's word, but we don't need one. "Sisyphean" tells of bearing up under a lost cause better than any other word in English. The adjective is usually capitalized despite the fact that it has long been commonized.

    Etymology: Greek "Sisupheios" from Sisuphos "Sisyphus," the eponym of today's word. For Sisyphus's misdeeds, Zeus condemned him to push a boulder up a hill in Hades endlessly, only to have it roll back down when it reached the top.
     
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    Ciao (adverb)

    Pronunciation: [chوw ("chow")]

    Definition: Hi! and Bye! i.e. an informal "hello" and "good-bye".

    Usage: Today's word is a greeting to use with your up-scale friends in posh night spots around the world: "Ciao, my delicious friends; I am so désolé but I must hasten away!" In Europe it suggests a kind of informality but in the US it is mostly associated with the economic and intellectual elite.

    Suggested Usage: Today's word is used in Italy most often with friends and family; people less well known to each other are more likely to say arrivederci "until we meet again," which suits all ages, social levels and relationships. Other greetings in the European language are associated with the wish that God be with you. English "good-bye" descends from "God be with you." French adieu (originally "to God") and Serbian zbogom (originally "with God") are reductions from whole phrases similar to Spanish vaya con Dios "go with God."

    Etymology: "Ciao" is a reduction of schiavo "slave," a remnant of the phrase lo schiavo suo "I am your slave." It is of a class with the Austrian and Southern German greeting, servus "servant," taken directly from Latin. The word "slave" comes from "Slav," the name of the great family of nations of Eastern Europe (e.g. the Poles, Serbs, and Russians.) The English word came via French from Latin sclavus, “Slav, slave” (whence Italian "schiavo"), itself borrowed from Greek sklabos "Slav." The original Slavic word shares a source with slava "glory." The Slavic peoples originally referred to themselves as "the glorious ones," a far cry from "slave." (Today's is another word come to us from the Agora. Isn't it time you at least kibitzed the fascinating conversations about words there?)
     
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    @ (preposition)

    Pronunciation: ['وt-sIn]

    Definition: The "at" sign, used to mark the value or cost per item or to separate the user name from the domain name in an e-mail address.

    Usage: Linguists have compiled a list of names for the ubiquitous @ sign. European languages associate @ with animals. In Dutch, it's called apestaart "monkey's tail." In Finnish it's either kissanhنntن "a cat's tail" or miau merkki, transliterated "meow merk-key," a second-stage development of the @ sign's resemblance to a cat. Germans call @ a Klammeraffe "spider monkey" (literally, "clinging monkey"), and in Serbian, the word is majmun "monkey." To the Russians, the @ looks like the curled tail of a dog, hence their name sobachka "little dog." Some Swedes call it "Snabel-A" or "elephant-trunk A" while others prefer the culinary term, kanelbulle "cinnamon bun." In Hebrew opinion is again split between an animal and food: the sign in Hebrew is either ashablool "snail" or strudel. In French, @ is an "arobase" or "arobasse" from the Spanish "arroba" (see Etymology), or the "business a," though some French-speakers also see it as an escargot "snail," a sentiment shared by the Italians, who call it a chiocciola "snail."

    Suggested Usage: For most of its history in the United States, the "at" sign has been used to refer to prices: "Today's Special—5 lb. potatoes @ $1." It's a humble job, but one that needs doing. With the advent of the technological economy, the @ sign lends its appropriate coded meaning to e-mail addresses the world over.

    Etymology: In 1972, the programmer Ray Tomlinson was working on a network addressing system that would clearly separate the username from the machine and domain identities. Tomlinson chose the @ because its meaning was widely known, it fit the use he had in mind, and because it never appears in a proper name. But the @ had been around a long time before the computer revolution. The @ in English probably originated with the French à in expressions like: ten apples a Euro = dix pommes à Euro. We may also have inherited it from Spanish or Portuguese, who used a similar sign for their "arroba" from the Arabic ar-roub "the quarter," a measure of solids and liquids. The evidence for either story is sketchy. (Thanks to the curiosity of Don J. DeBenedictis for raising questions about today's non-Word of the Day.)
     
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    Chauvinism (noun)

    Pronunciation: ['sho-vên-i-zêm]

    Definition: Excessive nationalistic fervor, superpatriotism; also, excessive prejudicial devotion to and aggressive promotion of one's own idea, belief, and so forth.

    Usage: The history of today's word describes a semantic drift toward an ever-broadening meaning, excessive fervor for virtually anything: "Winifred is a cricket chauvinist; not only will he not discuss any other sports, he won't let anyone else discuss them, either." The adjective and adverb can be used on an even more personal level, "Sean so chauvinistically defends Gladys before her critics, you would think they were intimately involved."

    Suggested Usage: Today's term is most widely used to refer to societies convinced that males are better suited for important, decision-making roles (male chauvinism). However, religious chauvinism is reflected in the expansion of the various major religions, and cultural chauvinism, in the empire-building of the 19th century. A person given to chauvinistic (the adjective) behavior is a chauvinist.

    Etymology: Nicolas Chauvin, the eponym of today's word, served as a soldier under Napoleon to the bitter end of the Grande Armee. Chauvin was born in the city of smelly cheese, Roquefort, France around 1790. He was wounded several times, resulting in disfigurement and probably mental instability. His gung-ho patriotism and devotion to the emperor was rewarded by Napoleon himself. After the war, however, he was mocked in several Vaudeville plays, especially 'La Cocarde Tricolore' (1831), which left the pejorative connotation that still clings to the word today.
     
    Iceberg

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    I came upon a dictionary word today saying: floccinaucinihilipilification
    I thought it was a joke until I googled it:

    Definitions of floccinaucinihilipilification on the Web:
    * The act or habit of describing or regarding something as worthless

    :msneek: :msneek: :msneek: :msneek: :msneek: :msneek:
     
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    Principle (noun)

    Pronunciation: ['prin-sê-pêl]

    Definition: A fundamental truth or rule, especially a rule of moral character, as a woman of principle.

    Usage: Many principles guide our day-to-day lives but the principal principle is not to take life too seriously. Notice this principle proposes a balance: that life not be taken frivolously but also not be taken so seriously as to become burdensome. Others will have their own principal principle—but the point here is that a principal principle is a useful mnemonic for keeping track of the spellings of these two words.

    Suggested Usage: No Word-of-the-Day series would be complete without an explanation of the differences between "principle" and "principal." Today's word is only a noun but "principal" may be either a noun or an adjective. As both it means "chief," e.g. the principal role in a play is the chief (main) role while the principal in a school or law or architecture firm is the chief of the firm, the highest member of its hierarchy.

    Etymology: From Latin principalis, the adjective of princeps, princip- "he who takes first place, leader, emperor." The ultimate roots here are *per- "forward, before" + *kap "take." "Per" is found without its vowel in "private" and "privilege" from Latin privus "single, alone" and Latin proprius, "one's own, particular" from which English derives "proper." "Premier," "primary," "prime," "primitive" all come from Latin primus "first, foremost," which leads us to "princeps" which underlies today's English word, as well as "prince." The second stem, *kap, is the source of "capture" from Latin capere "catch, seize" and English "have."
     
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    Resile (verb)

    Pronunciation: [ree-'zIl]

    Definition: Retract to an original position; draw back from or withdraw after having second thoughts.

    Usage: The remarkable aspect of the dip in the popularity or today's word is that it is very useful: "Saltford resiled from his offer to help when he discovered there would be no compensation." It certainly is more direct and sophisticated than "to go back on": "Gloria seems to have resiled from Horace since learning that his first wife left with most of his money." So nothing precludes our restoring it to its original rank and its usefulness recommends it strongly for such restoration.

    Suggested Usage: The adjective from today's word, "resilient" [ri-'zil-yênt] and the noun, "resiliency," are far more widely used than their long-lost father, today's word itself. Yet this verb remains a vibrant member of the English lexical cast, still performing in some English-speaking regions. Rubber bands are resilient because they resile after being stretched. Humans tend to resile from disruptive tragedies.

    Etymology: From Latin resilire "to leap back" from re- "back" + salire "to leap." "Salire" is based on the root *sel- which also underlies Greek hallesthai "leap," and English "sally" as in "sally forth," not to mention "salient," "assault," and salmon, originally, "leaping fish." (We shall never resile from our sincere gratitude to Rehana Husain of India for rediscovering the father of "resilience," today's verb "resile.")
     
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    Semitic (adjective)

    Pronunciation: [sê-'mi-tik]

    Definition: Pertaining to the Semites: the Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Assyrian peoples. Also pertaining to an Afro-Asiatic family of languages that includes Hebrew, Aramaic and modern Syriac, Amharic, Tigré, and others, all clearly sharing a common stock and origin.

    Usage: The on-going Middle Eastern conflict could be called more specifically a Semitic conflict, since it is among related Semitic peoples. We dedicate today's word to the memory of those who have perished in that conflict and to a hope for salaam/shalom throughout that unhappy region.

    Suggested Usage: A Semitic person is a "Semite" and a "Semiticism" is a Semitic word or turn of phrase, as "algebra" (from Arabic) and "shibboleth" (from Hebrew) are Semiticisms in the English language. Hebrew and Arabic are sister languages (Hebrew shalom = Arabic salaam "peace"). Since World War II, however, when the people of Jewish descent were so severely persecuted, the term has been more closely associated with them than with their Arabic sisters and brothers. Now, "anti-Semitic" in the minds of most English-speakers refers to prejudice against Jews rather than against all Semitic peoples.

    Etymology: The adjective of the noun "Semite," the peoples speaking Semitic languages. According to Genesis 10 the Semites are the descendants of Noah's son, Shem, hence it was originally "shemites." The English word, however, derives directly from Late Latin "semiticus" in which the [sh] had been replaced by .
     
    O

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    Procrastination (Noun)


    Etymology: 1540s, from L. procrastinationem "a putting off," noun of action from procrastinare "put off till tomorrow," from pro- "forward" (see pro-) + crastinus "belonging to tomorrow," from cras "tomorrow," of unknown origin.

    Definition: Procrastination refers to the counterproductive deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite such behavior as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.[1] Schraw, Pinard, Wadkins, and Olafson have proposed three criteria for a behavior to be classified as procrastination: it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying.[2]
    Procrastination may result in stress, a sense of guilt and crisis, severe loss of personal productivity, as well as social disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments. These feelings combined may promote further procrastination. While it is regarded as normal for people to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning. Chronic procrastination may be a sign of an underlying psychological disorder.

    Type of Procrastinators:

    The relaxed type
    The relaxed type of procrastinators view their responsibilities negatively and avoid them by directing energy into other tasks. It is common, for example, for relaxed type procrastinating children to abandon schoolwork but not their social lives. Students often see projects as a whole rather than breaking them into smaller parts. This type of procrastination is a form of denial or cover-up; therefore, typically no help is being sought. Furthermore, they are also unable to defer gratification. The procrastinator avoids situations that would cause displeasure, indulging instead in more enjoyable activities. In Freudian terms, such procrastinators refuse to renounce the pleasure principle, instead sacrificing the reality principle. They may not appear to be worried about work and deadlines, but this is simply an evasion of the work that needs to be completed.They ignore the time needed for their preperation for examinations. Their logical mind will give reasons to procrastinate.

    The tense-afraid type
    The tense-afraid type of procrastinators usually feel overwhelmed with pressure, unrealistic about time, uncertain about goals, and many other negative feelings. They may feel a sense of malaise. Feeling that they lack the ability or focus to successfully complete their work, they tell themselves that they need to unwind and relax, that it's better to take it easy for the afternoon, for example, and start afresh in the morning. They usually have grandiose plans that aren't realistic. Their 'relaxing' is often temporary and ineffective, and leads to even more stress as time runs out, deadlines approach and the person feels increasingly guilty and apprehensive. This behavior becomes a cycle of failure and delay, as plans and goals are put off, pencilled into the following day or week in the diary again and again. It can also have a debilitating effect on their personal lives and relationships. Since they are uncertain about their goals, they often feel awkward with people who appear confident and goal-oriented, which can lead to depression. Tense-afraid procrastinators often withdraw from social life, avoiding contact even with close friends.


    :angel:
     
    Iceberg

    Iceberg

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    Should be word of the decade :biggrin:

    Floccinaucinihilipilification

    Etymology
    A jocular coinage, apparently by students at Eton, combining a number of roughly synonymous Latin stems. Latin flocci, from floccus, a wisp or piece of wool + nauci, from naucum, a trifle + nihili, from the Latin pronoun, nihil (“nothing”) + pili, from pilus, a hair, something insignificant (all therefore having the sense of "pettiness" or "nothing") + -fication. "Flocci non facio" was a Latin expression of indifference, literally "I do not make a straw of...".

    Noun
    floccinaucinihilipilification (uncountable)

    1. The act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant.
    * 1741: William Shenstone, Letters,

    I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money.

    * 1970: Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander,

    There is a systematic flocci-nauci-nihili-pilification of all other aspects of existence that angers me.

    Related terms
    floccinaucinihilipilificate
     
    L

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    Expropriate [eks-proh-pree-eyt]

    –verb
    1. to take possession of, esp. for public use by the right of eminent domain, thus divesting the title of the private owner: The government expropriated the land for a recreation area.

    2. to dispossess (a person) of ownership: The revolutionary government expropriated the landowners from their estates.

    3. to take (something) from another's possession for one's own use: He expropriated my ideas for his own article.
     
    Picasso

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    Netizen

    When the internet began, 'net' became a new prefix. We had words like, 'net news' and 'net speak' and all sorts of things like that. And then it became a suffix as well, hyper net, news net and so on.

    And then blends started to appear, with a familiar word changed. So we had 'netizen' - that is, a citizen of the internet, an internet citizen, netizen for short, somebody who lives their whole life there. And these people are also called 'netties', or 'netters' or even 'net-heads', I've heard.

    And then we get 'netiquette' - the conventions which govern acceptable behaviour when engaging in internet dialogue. The etiquette of internet, netiquette, especially used in emailing and chat rooms. Many sites actually offer guidance about how to behave linguistically.

    There's a joke about this which relies on that little symbol, you know, the @ symbol, which you use in your email address, david.cystal @ so and so dot com. Here's the joke: How do you know you're a real netizen?

    Answer: When all of your friends have an @ in their names!

    BBC Learning English
     
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    Ubiquitous (adjective)

    Pronunciation: [yu-'bi-kwê-tês]

    Definition: Present everywhere.

    Usage: The English word "everywhere" doesn't have a noun, so you can't say things like "I was struck by its everywhereness in England." Now you can; just use 'ubiquity' instead: "I was struck by its ubiquity in England." You can also use this word family where "everywhere" doesn't fit: "Is the ubiquitous cell phone a threat to society?"

    Suggested Usage: Regular adjective: "ubiquitously" adverb, "ubiquity" noun

    Etymology: Today's word is build on Latin ubi-que "everywhere", itself from ubi "where" + -que "and" + -ous. Latin ubi "where" was originaly the locative case of Proto-Indo-European *kwo- "where, when, who," i.t. *kwo-bhi, which became -cubi in compounds like alicubi "somewhere," losing its initial [k] in "ubique," perhaps influenced by ibi "there." The same root, *kwo- became "who" in English and kto "who" in Russian. The pronouns on "qu-" in Latin share the same source.
     
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    Idealism (noun)

    Pronunciation: [I-'dee-ê-liz-êm]

    Definition: (1) (From "idea") The Platonic theory that ultimate reality lies in a realm beyond the real world, that the real world is a by-product of mental or supernatural states; art that rejects realism for the world of imagination. (2) (From "ideal") The practice of living according to a set of ideals; overly optimistic hopefulness.

    Usage: The Platonic sense of today's word refers to the world of ideas as opposed to realia: "Twitty's idealism is always crucial in preparing a product for production," means that Twitty's imaginative ideas are important to the process. Twitty may be a depraved moral degenerate with no ideals at all and hence not an idealist in the second sense.

    Suggested Usage: Plato, who taught in the Grove of Academus (or simply "Academeia") in Athens, argued that only concepts are real since they do not change over time as do the objects they represent. Nothing exists until the idea of it exists, hence some supreme power must have conceived of the universe before it came into existence. Real objects are the concepts in one's mind, which must be delivered by the teacher, a kind of mental midwife (see "maieutics" in the Archives). This was the original, philosophical meaning of "idealism," seldom used any more outside the philosophy classroom.

    Etymology: From Greek idea "form, shape" from *weid- also the origin of the "his" in his-tor "wise, learned" underlying English "history." In Latin this root became videre "to see" and related words. It is the same root in Sanskrit veda "knowledge as in the Rig-Veda. The stem entered Germanic as witan "know," seen in Modern German wissen "to know" and in English "wisdom" and "twit," a shortened form of Middle English atwite derived from وt "at" +witen "reproach."
     
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    Tantalize (verb)

    Pronunciation: ['tوn-tê-lIz]

    Definition: To torment by showing or promising something desirable but holding it just out of reach or withdrawing it at the last moment.

    Usage: The fundamental sense of today's word is associated with holding food and drink just beyond the reach of someone who desires it: "I would rather be tantalized with Pearl's eggplant-zucchini soufflé than actually served it." Now, however, the sense has been extended to include anything, "I accepted this job because I was tantalized with a robust benefit package, most of which I never received."

    Suggested Usage: The adjective is "tantalizing," the adverb from it is "tantalizingly," and a person who tantalizes is a tantalizer.

    Etymology: From Greek tantalizein "to wave about" whose stem also underlies the name of Tantalus, a human of such stature in Greek mythology that he was allowed to mingle with the gods of Olympus. When they came to dinner at his home, he wanted to offer them something very precious to him, so he made a stew of his son, Pelops (have times changed?). Tantalus' bad taste left such a bad taste in the mouths of the gods that, as punishment, Tantalus was forced to stand up to his chin in water beneath branches loaded with luscious fruit. If he lowered his head to drink or raised a hand to pick a fruit, however, the water and fruit would retreat beyond his reach.
     
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    Ethos [ē′t̸hنs′]
    noun

    shared fundamental traits: the fundamental and distinctive character of a group, social context, or period of time, typically expressed in attitudes, habits, and beliefs

    [Mid-19th century. < Greek ēthos "custom, disposition" < Indo-European, "self"]
     
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    Enclave [ én klàyv, َn klàyv ] (plural en·claves)

    noun

    1. region surrounded by foreign territory: a small country or territory that is culturally or ethnically different from a surrounding larger and distinct political unit.
    See also exclave

    2. distinct group in larger community:
    a distinct group that lives or operates together within a larger community

    [Mid-19th century. < French< Old French enclaver "enclose" < Latin in "in" + clavis "key"]
     
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