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Cuvantul zilei - Word of the day

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 16, 2017 is:

chary • \CHAIR-ee\  • adjective

1 : hesitant and vigilant about dangers and risks

2 : slow to grant, accept, or expend


"Alexander Graham Bell didn't expect his telephone to be widely used for prank calls. And Steve Jobs was chary of children using his iThings." — Hayley Krischer, The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2017

"An A-1 writer but also chary with spoken words, he told me: 'I don't own a computer. I write longhand. In notebooks. It's then typed up. Retyped until I feel I've got it.'" — Cindy Adams, The New York Post, 2 Aug. 2017

Did you know?

It was sorrow that bred the caution of chary. In Middle English chary meant "sorrowful," a sense that harks back to the word's Old English ancestor caru (an early form of care, and another term that originally meant "sorrow" or "grief"). In a sense switch that demonstrates that love can be both bitter and sweet, chary later came to mean "dear" or "cherished." That's how 16th-century English dramatist George Peele used it: "the chariest and the choicest queen, That ever did delight my royal eyes." Both sorrow and affection have largely faded from chary, however, and in Modern English the word is most often used as a synonym of either careful or sparing.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 15, 2017 is:

razzmatazz • \raz-muh-TAZ\  • noun

1 : a confusing or colorful often gaudy action or display : razzle-dazzle

2 : inflated, involved, and often deliberately ambiguous language : double-talk

3 : vim, zing


We were disappointed by the candidate's speech, which offered plenty of razzmatazz but little substance.

"The fireworks, the razzmatazz, the artifice do not add to the sense of occasion. Instead of augmenting the competition's charm, they detract from it." — Rory Smith, The New York Times, 28 May 2017

Did you know?

English speakers are fond of forming new words through reduplication of a base word, usually with just a slight change of sound. Think of okeydoke, fuddy-duddy, super-duper, roly-poly, fiddle-faddle, and dillydally. Another word is razzle-dazzle, formed by the reduplication of dazzle (itself a frequentative of daze). In the late-19th century, the spirit that prompted razzle-dazzle (one early meaning of which is "a state of confusion or hilarity") seems to have also inspired razzmatazz. The coiners of razzmatazz may also have had jazz in mind. Some of the earliest turn-of-the century uses of razzmatazz refer to rag-time or early jazz styles. By the mid-20th century, we'd come round to the "razzle-dazzle" sense, though we still haven't completely settled on the spelling. You might, for example, see razzamatazz.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 14, 2017 is:

palliate • \PAL-ee-ayt\  • verb

1 : to reduce the violence of (a disease); also : to ease (symptoms) without curing the underlying disease

2 : to cover by excuses and apologies

3 : to moderate the intensity of


"He had an ability to describe and champion technological innovation and global integration in a rhetoric that palliated fears of change." — Matthew Continetti, Commentary, 16 Nov. 2016

"I have held onto generations of them not just for the headaches I inherited but for bellyaches, cramps, the cold, a cold, the side effects of antimalarial pills, tennis elbow. I've found that a hot-water bottle excels at palliating less-specific aches, ones that don't answer to 'Where does it hurt?'" — Chantel Tattoli, The New York Times Magazine, 19 Jan. 2017

Did you know?

Long ago, the ancient Romans had a name for the cloak-like garb that was worn by the Greeks (distinguishing it from their own toga); the name was pallium. In the 15th century, English speakers modified the Late Latin word palliatus, which derives from pallium, to form palliate. Our term, used initially as both an adjective and a verb, never had the literal Latin sense referring to the cloak you wear, but it took on the figurative "cloak" of protection. Specifically, the verb palliate meant (as it still can mean) "to lessen the intensity of a disease." The related adjective palliative describes medical care that focuses on relieving pain or discomfort rather than administering a cure.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 13, 2017 is:

lagniappe • \LAN-yap\  • noun

: a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; broadly : something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure


Our meal began with a lagniappe of pickled vegetables.

"Lagniappe—the unexpected surprises, the extras—are one of the reasons I love New Orleans.… I live, and travel, for the unexpected surprise. I may get lost, but there's usually an unexpected treat in that unplanned detour." — Jill Schensul, The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey), 19 Mar. 2017

Did you know?

"We picked up one excellent word," wrote Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi (1883), "a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word—'lagniappe'.... It is Spanish—so they said." Twain encapsulates the history of lagniappe quite nicely. English speakers learned the word from French-speaking Louisianians, but they in turn had adapted it from the American Spanish word la ñapa. (What Twain didn't know is that the Spanish word is from Quechua, from the word yapa, meaning "something added.") Twain went on to describe how New Orleanians completed shop transactions by saying "Give me something for lagniappe," to which the shopkeeper would respond with "a bit of liquorice-root, … a cheap cigar or a spool of thread." It took a while for lagniappe to catch on throughout the country, but in time, New Yorkers and New Orleanians alike were familiar with this "excellent word."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 12, 2017 is:

interdigitate • \in-ter-DIJ-uh-tayt\  • verb

: to become interlocked like the fingers of folded hands


A finger joint is formed when the "fingers" on the ends of two boards interdigitate for a secure fit.

"Forest and savanna interdigitate over a great front thousands of miles long and a half million square miles in area—half the size of the entire central African forest." — David Western, Discover, October 1986

Did you know?

It probably won't surprise you to learn that interdigitate comes from the prefix inter-, as in interlock, and the Latin word digitus, meaning "finger." Digitus also gave us digit, which is used in English today to refer to (among other things) the finger or toe of any animal. Interdigitate usually suggests an interlocking of things with fingerlike projections, such as muscle fibers or the teeth of an old-fashioned bear trap. The word can also be used figuratively to imply a smooth interweaving of disparate things, such as the blending of two cultures within a shared region.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 11, 2017 is:

tendentious • \ten-DEN-shus\  • adjective

: marked by a tendency in favor of a particular point of view : biased


The book proved to be a tendentious account of the town's history, written to rescue the reputation of one of its less scrupulous founders.

"The French satirical publication … has a record of ruffling feathers with tendentious headlines." — Daniel J. Solomon, The Forward (, 29 Aug. 2017

Did you know?

Tendentious is one of several words English speakers can choose when they want to suggest that someone has made up his or her mind in advance. You may be partial to predisposed or prone to favor partisan, but whatever your leanings, we're inclined to think you'll benefit from adding tendentious to your repertoire. A derivative of the Medieval Latin word tendentia, meaning "tendency," plus the English suffix -ious, tendentious has been used in English as an adjective for biased attitudes since at least the end of the 19th century.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 10, 2017 is:

gregarious • \grih-GAIR-ee-us\  • adjective

1 a : tending to associate with others of one's kind : social

b : marked by or indicating a liking for companionship : sociable

c : of or relating to a social group

2 a : (of a plant) growing in a cluster or a colony

b : living in contiguous nests but not forming a true colony — used especially of wasps and bees


The documentary is filmed inside the burrows of the gregarious prairie dogs using high-tech equipment.

"Young players … don't feel close to him like they do an older player like Phil Mickelson, who has been a much more gregarious mentor." — Brian Wacker, Golf Digest, August 2017

Did you know?

When you're one of the herd, it's tough to avoid being social. The etymology of gregarious reflects the social nature of the flock; in fact, the word grew out of the Latin noun grex, meaning "herd" or "flock." When it first began appearing in English texts in the 17th century, gregarious was applied mainly to animals, but by the 18th century it was being used for social human beings as well. By the way, grex gave English a whole flock of other words too, including egregious, aggregate, congregate, and segregate.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 9, 2017 is:

denegation • \den-ih-GAY-shun\  • noun

: denial


"I sought to interrupt him with some not very truthful denegation; but he waved me down, and pursued his speech." — Robert Louis Stevenson, The Master of Ballantrae, 1889

"I see Horton say emphatically No…. His denegation is plausible; Gray believes it and accepts it…." — Henry James, The Ivory Tower, 1917

Did you know?

Even if we didn't provide you with a definition, you might guess the meaning of denegation from the negation part. Both words are ultimately derived from the Latin verb negare, meaning "to deny" or "to say no," and both first arrived in English in the 15th century. Negare is also the source of our abnegation ("self-denial"), negate ("to deny the truth of"), and renegade (which originally referred to someone who leaves, and therefore denies, a religious faith). Even deny and denial are negare descendants. Like denegation, they came to us from negare by way of the Latin denegare, which also means "to deny."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 8, 2017 is:

slake • \SLAYK\  • verb

1 : satisfy, quench

2 : to cause (a substance, such as lime) to heat and crumble by treatment with water : hydrate


"Food trucks offering tacos, barbecue and wood-fired pizza will be available to slake any ale-induced cravings, and live bluegrass music from Turnip Truck and Red Barn Hayloft will serenade the event." — EmmaJean Holly, Valley News (West Lebanon, New Hampshire), 16 Aug. 2017

"In eighth grade she traveled with adults in her church group to Juarez, Mexico to spend a week helping out at an orphanage. As a sophomore in high school, she participated in a three-week exchange in Denmark. But short visits didn't fully slake Fisher's desire to live in and explore other cultures." — Rick Foster, The Foxboro (Massachusetts) Reporter, 24 Aug. 2017

Did you know?

There is no lack of obsolete and archaic meanings when it comes to slake. Shakespearean scholars may know that in the Bard's day slake meant "to subside or abate" ("No flood by raining slaketh ...." — The Rape of Lucrece) or "to lessen the force of" ("It could not slake mine ire, nor ease my heart." — Henry VI, Part 3). The most erudite word enthusiasts may also be aware of earlier meanings of slake, such as "to slacken one's efforts" or "to cause to be relaxed or loose." These early meanings recall the word's Old English ancestor sleac, which not only meant "slack" but is also the source of that modern term.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 7, 2017 is:

prehension • \pree-HEN-shun\  • noun

1 : the act of taking hold, seizing, or grasping

2 : mental understanding : comprehension

3 : apprehension by the senses


"The CMC [carpometacarpal] joint of the thumb … performs a variety of movements necessary to perform prehension or grasping." — Mark McDonald, The South Platte Sentinel, 2 Aug. 2017

"The tongue is not, properly speaking, in man, an organ for the prehension of solid food, that office being performed by the hand, for which the opponent arrangement of thumb and fingers eminently fits it…." — Robert Bentley Todd, The Cyclopaedia of Anatomy and Physiology, 1852

Did you know?

It's easy to grasp the origins of prehension—it descends from the Latin verb prehendere, which means "to seize" or "to grasp." Other descendants of prehendere in English include apprehend ("arrest, seize"), comprehend ("to grasp the nature or significance of"), prehensile ("adapted for seizing or grasping"), prison, reprise ("a repeated performance"), and reprisal ("a retaliatory act"). Even the English word get comes to us from the same ancient root that led to the Latin prehendere.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 6, 2017 is:

bombard • \bahm-BARD\  • verb

1 : to attack especially with artillery or bombers

2 : to assail vigorously or persistently (as with questions)

3 : to subject to the impact of rapidly moving particles (as electrons)


After running an editorial supporting the town's controversial plan, the newspaper was bombarded with letters and email from residents wishing to voice their opposition.

"Hundreds of willing—and unwilling—participants will line up on either side of the lot and bombard each other with tomatoes." — Jimmy Fisher, The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), 17 Aug. 2017

Did you know?

In the late Middle Ages, a bombard was a cannon used to hurl large stones at enemy fortifications. Its name, which first appeared in English in the 15th century, comes from the Middle French bombarde, which in turn was probably a combination of the onomatopoeic bomb- and the suffix -arde (equivalent to the English ­-ard). The verb bombard blasted onto the scene in English in the 17th century, with an original meaning of "to attack especially with artillery"; as weapons technology improved throughout the centuries, such artillery came to include things like automatic rifles and bomber aircraft. Nowadays one can be bombarded figuratively in any number of ways, such as by omnipresent advertising messages or persistent phone calls.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 5, 2017 is:

vituperate • \vye-TOO-puh-rayt\  • verb

1 : to criticize or censure severely or abusively

2 : to use harsh condemnatory language


"Hang on, let me tell you a story: Years ago, I had a co-worker who knew I enjoyed golf and who decided that he would vituperate golf. 'It's so boring, it's such a waste of time. Who in his right mind would want to play golf?'" — Jay Nordlinger, The National Review, 17 Apr. 2017

"Lenin on the Train … is the latest entry in a vast literature dedicated to answering the question of just how was it that this pointy-bearded intellectual, who spent much of his life in libraries, and whose primary pastime was vituperating against fellow socialists in obscure journals, achieved so much—and at such a drastic human cost." — Daniel Kalder, The Dallas Morning News, 16 Apr. 2017

Did you know?

Vituperate has several close synonyms, including berate and revile. Berate usually refers to scolding that is drawn out and abusive. Revile means to attack or criticize in a way prompted by anger or hatred. Vituperate can be used as a transitive or intransitive verb and adds to the meaning of revile by stressing an attack that is particularly harsh or unrelenting. It first appeared in English in the mid-16th century and can be traced back to two Latin words: the noun vitium, meaning "fault," and the verb parare, meaning "to make or prepare."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 4, 2017 is:

agita • \AJ-uh-tuh\  • noun

: a feeling of agitation or anxiety


"Home-sharing through websites has meant more lodging choices for visitors to Massachusetts. But it's also become a source of considerable agita on Beacon Hill: How to tax and regulate this sudden behemoth?" — The Boston Globe, 18 June 2017

"According to an American Psychological Association (APA) report, 43 percent of women say they're more stressed out than they were five years…. Women under age 33 report the highest levels of agita of any generation, with those 33 to 46 close behind." — Shaun Dreisbach, Glamour, April 2016

Did you know?

Judging by its spelling and meaning, you might think that agita is simply a shortened version of agitation, but that's not the case. Both agitation and the verb it comes form, agitate, derive from Latin agere, meaning "to drive." Agita, which first appeared in American English in the mid-late 20th century, comes from a dialectical pronunciation of the Italian word acido, meaning "heartburn" or "acid," from Latin acidus. (Agita is also occasionally used in English with the meaning "heartburn.") For a while the word's usage was limited to New York City and surrounding regions, but the word became more widespread in the mid-1990s.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 3, 2017 is:

salubrious • \suh-LOO-bree-us\  • adjective

: favorable to or promoting health or well-being


The hot springs are popular both for relaxation and for their reported salubrious effect.

"There are many reasons why soup so often hits the spot. Certainly, it's got salubrious effects—with chicken soup topping the cure-all list." — Ligaya Figueras, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 24 Feb. 2017

Did you know?

Salubrious and its synonyms healthful and wholesome all mean favorable to the health of mind or body. Healthful implies a positive contribution to a healthy condition (as in Charles Dickens' advice to "take more healthful exercise"). Wholesome applies to something that benefits you, builds you up, or sustains you physically, mentally, or spiritually. Louisa May Alcott used this sense in Little Women: "Work is wholesome.... It keeps us from ennui and mischief, is good for health and spirits, and gives us a sense of power and independence...." Salubrious is used similarly to both words but tends to apply chiefly to the helpful effects of climate or air.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 2, 2017 is:

farceur • \fahr-SER\  • noun

1 : joker, wag

2 : a writer or actor of farce or satire


Grace's class presentation went very well, but she could have done without the snide remarks from the farceurs at the back of the room.

"Jerry Lewis didn't just play a nutty professor. For years he reigned as a mad comic scientist of the screen—a brash innovator who exploded conventions and expectations on either side of the camera, and a take-no-prisoners farceur who mixed slapstick antics with a seething man-child persona of his own making." — Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times, 21 Aug. 2017

Did you know?

You've probably already spotted the "farce" in farceur. But although farceur can now refer to someone who performs or composes farce, it began life as a word for someone who is simply known for cracking jokes. Appropriately, farceur derives via Modern French from the Middle French farcer, meaning "to joke." If you think of farce as a composition of ridiculous humor with a "stuffed" or contrived plot, then it should not surprise you that farce originally meant "forcemeat"—seasoned meat used for a stuffing—and that both farce and farceur can be ultimately traced back to the Latin verb farcire, meaning "to stuff."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 1, 2017 is:

censure • \SEN-sher\  • verb

: to find fault with and criticize as blameworthy


"The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government." — Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, New York Times v. United States, 1971

"No president has ever been removed by impeachment. No president has ever been indicted. No president has been censured since 1860." — Hannah Ryan, Newsweek, 20 Aug. 2017

Did you know?

Censure and its synonyms criticize, reprehend, condemn, and denounce all essentially mean "to find fault with openly." Additionally, censure carries a strong suggestion of authority and often refers to an official action. Criticize implies finding fault with someone's methods, policies, or intentions, as in "the commentator criticized the manager's bullpen strategy." Reprehend implies sharp criticism or disapproval, as in "a teacher who reprehends poor grammar." Condemn usually suggests a final unfavorable judgment, as in "the group condemned the court's decision." Denounce adds to condemn the implication of a public declaration, as in "her letter to the editor denounced the corrupt actions of the mayor's office."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 30, 2017 is:

apropos • \ap-ruh-POH\  • preposition

: with regard to (something) : concerning


Sean interrupted our conversation about politics and, apropos of nothing, asked who we thought would win the basketball game.

"Around that time I came across a felicitous quote by Mark Twain, which said, apropos the difficulty of writing about childhood, that you have to be old to write young." — Andrew Winer, The Color Midnight Made, 2002

Did you know?

English speakers borrowed apropos from the French phrase à propos, literally "to the purpose." Since it first appeared in the 17th century, apropos has been used as an adverb, adjective, noun, and preposition. Left alone, the word probably wouldn't have gotten much attention, but in 1926 noted language expert H. W. Fowler declared of apropos "that it is better always to use of rather than to after it…." While this prescription seems to be based on the use of the preposition de ("of") in the French construction à propos de, rather than the actual usage history of apropos in English, some language commentators take Fowler's recommendation to be virtually a commandment. But others have noted that apropos is sometimes used by itself in professionally edited prose, or, more rarely, is followed by to.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 29, 2017 is:

ensconce • \in-SKAHNSS\  • verb

1 : to place or hide securely : conceal

2 : to establish or settle firmly, comfortably, or snugly


Though kept—and used—for years in a private home, the unusual 17th-century porcelain bowl is now safely ensconced behind glass in a local museum.

"Using their strong back legs, female loggerheads dig until a pit is created that is deep enough to safely ensconce their eggs." — The Press and Standard (Walterboro, South Carolina), 20 July 2016

Did you know?

You might think of a sconce as a type of candleholder or lamp, but the word can also refer to a defensive fortification, usually one made of earth. Originally, then, a person who was ensconced was enclosed in or concealed by such a structure, out of harm's way. One of the earliest writers to apply the verb ensconce with the general sense of "hide" was William Shakespeare. In The Merry Wives of Windsor, the character Falstaff, hoping to avoid detection when he is surprised during an amorous moment with Mrs. Ford, says "She shall not see me; I will ensconce me behind the arras." (An arras is a tapestry or wall hanging.)

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 28, 2017 is:

pace • \PAY-see\  • preposition

: contrary to the opinion of — usually used as an expression of deference to someone's contrary opinion


Pace the editorialist, there are in fact multiple solutions to these kinds of problems.

"The public museums, great and small, that are one of America's educational glories house collections expensively assembled by rich men and (pace Isabella Gardner and Baltimore's Cone sisters) women with lofty but not selfless motives." — John Updike, The New York Review of Books, 5 Oct. 2006

Did you know?

Though used in English since the 19th century, the preposition pace has yet to shed its Latin mantle, and for that reason it's most at home in formal writing or in contexts in which one is playing at formality. The Latin word pace is a form of pax, meaning "peace" or "permission," and when used sincerely the word does indeed suggest a desire for both. This Latin borrowing is unrelated to the more common noun pace (as in "keeping pace") and its related verb ("pacing the room"); these also come from Latin, but from the word pandere, meaning "to spread."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 27, 2017 is:

disparate • \DISS-puh-rut\  • adjective

1 : containing or made up of fundamentally different and often incongruous elements

2 : markedly distinct in quality or character


The proposed law has the support of a disparate collection of interest groups.

"Released at San Diego's Comic-Con, the first full-length trailer for the CBS All Access series shows off all the Star Trek hallmarks, sweet ships, scary aliens, and the very human struggle that comes from disparate cultures coming together in unsure times." — Tim Surette, TV Guide, 23 July 2017

Did you know?

Have you ever tried to sort differing objects into separate categories? If so, you're well prepared to understand the origins of disparate. The word, which first appeared in English in the 16th century, derives from disparatus, the past participle of the Latin verb disparare, meaning "to separate." Disparare, in turn, comes from parare, a verb meaning "to prepare." Other descendants of parare in English include both separate and prepare, as well as repair, apparatus, and even vituperate ("to criticize harshly and usually publicly"). Disparate also functions as a noun. The noun, which is rare and usually used in the plural, means "one of two or more things so unequal or unlike that they cannot be compared with each other," as in "The yoking of disparates, the old and the new, continues to be a [poet Anne] Carson strategy" (Daisy Fried, The New York Times, 21 Apr. 2013).

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