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Cuvantul zilei - Word of the day

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 24, 2018 is:

effigy • \EFF-uh-jee\  • noun

: an image or representation especially of a person; especially : a crude figure representing a hated person


"At one meeting, he remembers, the leader of a competing company was hung in effigy as employees cheered." — Evan Bush, The Seattle Times, 25 Feb. 2018

"On the gathering's penultimate day, the giant effigy—or Man, as it is known—is set ablaze during a raucous, joyful celebration." — John Rogers and Janie Har, The Chicago Sun-Times, 28 Apr. 2018

Did you know?

An earlier sense of effigy is "a likeness of a person shaped out of stone or other materials," so it's not surprising to learn that effigy derives, by way of Middle French, from the Latin effigies, which, in turn, comes from the verb effingere ("to form"), a combination of the prefix ­ex- and fingere, which means "to shape." Fingere is the common ancestor of a number of other English nouns that name things you can shape. A fiction is a story you shape with your imagination. Figments are shaped by the imagination, too; they're something you imagine or make up. A figure can be a numeral, a shape, or a picture that you shape as you draw or write.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 23, 2018 is:

skirl • \SKERL\  • verb

1 of a bagpipe : to emit the high shrill tone of the chanter; also : to give forth music

2 : to play (music) on the bagpipe


"Then the Dropkick Murphys victory song skirled over the PA and the player pile was on, followed by the Red Sox team rushing the left field fence and flipping over it, reminiscent of Torii Hunter's vain try for a David Ortiz homer during the 2013 playoffs." — Jack Shea, The Martha's Vineyard Times, 23 June 2014

"On a crisp spring morning in West Roxbury, several honor guards stood at rigid attention outside Holy Name Church as scores of bagpipes skirled." — Eric Moscowitz, The Boston Globe, 4 Apr. 2014

Did you know?

Not every musical instrument is honored with its very own verb. But then, not every musical instrument emits a sound that quite matches that of a bagpipe. Depending on your ear, you might think bagpipes "give forth music," or you might be more apt to say they "shriek." If you are of the latter opinion, your thinking aligns with the earliest sense of skirl—"to shriek." That early sense was used of screeching maids, winds, and the like. Scottish poet Robert Sempill first used it for bagpipes in the mid-1600s. The meaning of skirl has shifted over time, however, and these days you can use the verb without causing offense to bagpipers and bagpipe enthusiasts.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 22, 2018 is:

notorious • \noh-TOR-ee-us\  • adjective

: generally known and talked of; especially : widely and unfavorably known


"Black-legged ticks, notorious for transmitting the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, are now present in almost half of U.S. counties, up nearly 45 percent since 1998." — Bradley Rife et al., O, The Oprah Magazine, April 2018

"Galveston Island has it all. To some, Texas' bustling island will always be defined by its storied past, its nineteenth-century elegance, big-city ambitions, notorious seaport, and even more notorious storms." — Texas Monthly, May 2018

Did you know?

Notorious was adopted into English in the 16th century from Medieval Latin notorius, itself from Late Latin's noun notorium, meaning "information" or "indictment." Notorium, in turn, derives from the Latin verb noscere, meaning "to come to know." Although notorious can be a synonym of famous, meaning simply "widely known," it long ago developed the additional implication of someone or something unpleasant or undesirable. The Book of Common Prayer of 1549 includes one of the first known uses of the unfavorable meaning in print, referring to "notorious synners."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 21, 2018 is:

voracity • \vuh-RASS-uh-tee\  • noun

: the quality or state of being ravenous or insatiable


Elena reads books with such voracity that she returns to the library two or three times a week.

"In the end, spiders' voracity actually works out to mankind's benefit. Since they primarily feast on bugs, their hunger means fewer pests in the garden, fewer mosquitoes in the yard, and fewer flies in the house." — Christopher Ingraham, The Boston Globe, 29 Mar. 2017

Did you know?

Voracity comes to us (via Middle French voracité) from the Latin word voracitas, which itself comes from vorax, meaning "voracious," plus -itas, the Latin equivalent of the English noun suffix -ity. Voracity is one of two English words that mean "the quality or state of being voracious." The other is voraciousness, which was once considered to be archaic but has made a comeback. Because voracity evolved from non-English forerunners, rather than being created in English from voracious (as was voraciousness), the word may strike some English speakers as an unusual formation. It's not surprising, therefore, that the more familiar-looking voraciousness has reappeared—most likely through a process of reinvention by people unfamiliar with voracity.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 20, 2018 is:

balmy • \BAH-mee\  • adjective

1 a : having the qualities of balm : soothing

b : mild, temperate

2 : crazy, foolish


"Men often don't moisturize their skin during the hotter months, but should. It's a misconception that oily skin doesn't get dehydrated. Use a lightweight moisturizer that isn't heavy or sticky in balmy weather." — Joane Amay, Ebony, June 2018

"He arose with the first peep of day, and sallied forth to enjoy the balmy breeze of morning...." — Thomas Love Peacock, Headlong Hall, 1816

Did you know?

It's no secret that balmy is derived from balm, an aromatic ointment or fragrance that heals or soothes. So when did it come to mean "foolish," you might wonder? Balmy goes back to the 15th century and was often used in contexts referring to weather, such as "a balmy breeze" or, as Mark Twain wrote in Tom Sawyer, "The balmy summer air, the restful quiet...." Around the middle of the 19th century, it developed a new sense suggesting a weak or unbalanced mind. It is uncertain if the soft quality or the soothing effect of balm influenced this use. But later in the century, balmy became altered to barmy in its "crazy" sense. This alteration may have come about from a mix-up with another barmy, meaning "full of froth or ferment." That barmy is from barm, a term for the yeast formed on fermenting malt liquors, which can indeed make one act balmy.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 19, 2018 is:

quail • \KWAIL\  • verb

1 : to give way : falter

2 : to recoil in dread or terror : cower


"It wasn't so long ago that book publishers and bookstore owners were quailing about the coming of e-books, like movie theatre owners at the dawn of the television age." — Michael Hiltzik, The Gulf Times, 10 May 2017

"I've a Pooh in me, blundering about, trying to think large thoughts, making pronouncements I hope won't be challenged. And I'm sometimes a Piglet, quailing in front of imaginary dangers, or figuratively jumping up and down to squeak, 'I'm here! What about me?'" — Jim Atwell, The Cooperstown (New York) Crier, 15 June 2017

Did you know?

Flinch, recoil, and wince are all synonyms of quail, but each word has a slightly different use. When you flinch, you fail to endure pain or to face something dangerous or frightening with resolution ("she faced her accusers without flinching"). Recoil implies a start or movement away from something through shock, fear, or disgust ("he recoiled at the suggestion of stealing"). Wince usually suggests a slight involuntary physical reaction to something ("she winced as the bright light suddenly hit her eyes"). Quail implies shrinking and cowering in fear ("he quailed before the apparition").

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 18, 2018 is:

jabberwocky • \JAB-er-wah-kee\  • noun

: meaningless speech or writing


Amanda learned to ignore her critics, dismissing their attacks as the jabberwocky of minds with nothing more important to think of about.

"When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh stepped into the crowded room, fashionably late, jabberwocky ceased and the only sound you heard was the whir and click of cameras." — Greg Cote, The Miami Herald, 28 Sept. 2010

Did you know?

In a poem titled "Jabberwocky" in the book Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1872), Lewis Carroll warned his readers about a frightful beast:

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

This nonsensical poem caught the public's fancy, and by 1908 jabberwocky was being used as a generic term for meaningless speech or writing. The word bandersnatch has also seen some use as a general noun, with the meaning "a wildly grotesque or bizarre individual." It's a much rarer word than jabberwocky, though, and is entered only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 17, 2018 is:

meritorious • \mair-uh-TOR-ee-us\  • adjective

: deserving of honor or esteem


"Markle received citations for meritorious conduct in the battle at Fort Erie." — Mike McCormick, The Terre Haute (Indiana) Tribune-Star, 15 Apr. 2018

"The Seven Seals award, signed by ESGR National Chair, Craig McKinley, is presented for meritorious leadership and initiative in support of the men and women who serve America in the National Guard and Reserve." — The Hattiesburg (Mississippi) American, 13 May 2018

Did you know?

People who demonstrate meritorious behavior certainly earn our respect, and you can use that fact to remember that meritorious ultimately traces to the Latin verb merēre, which means "to earn." Nowadays, the rewards earned for meritorious acts are likely to be of an immaterial nature: gratitude, admiration, praise, etc. But that wasn't always so. The history of meritorious recalls a reward more concrete in nature: money. The Latin word meritorius, an ancestor of the English meritorious, literally means "bringing in money."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 16, 2018 is:

tantalize • \TAN-tuh-lyze\  • verb

: to tease or torment by or as if by presenting something desirable to the view but continually keeping it out of reach


"The scientist tantalized them with a radical theory about the foundation of the universe, which proposes that time and space fluctuate in a bubbly, unstable state known as 'quantum foam.'" — Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 25 Sept. 2017

"Bearcubs incorporate electric harps and all manner of strange synthetic noise to tantalize your ear drums." — Kat Bein,, 15 June 2017

Did you know?

Pity poor King Tantalus of Lydia. The mythic monarch offended the ancient Greek gods. As punishment, according to Homer's Odyssey, he was plunged up to his chin in water in Hades, where he had to stand beneath overhanging boughs of a tree heavily laden with ripe, juicy fruit. But though he was always hungry and thirsty, Tantalus could neither drink the water nor eat the fruit. Anytime he moved to get them, they would retreat from his reach. Our word tantalize is taken from the name of the eternally tormented king.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 15, 2018 is:

pugnacious • \pug-NAY-shus\  • adjective

: having a quarrelsome or combative nature : truculent


"In almost all the Orders, the males of some species, even of weak and delicate kinds, are known to be highly pugnacious; and some few are furnished with special weapons for fighting with their rivals." — Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man,1871

"[Coach Gregg] Popovich, whose interviews can be humorously pugnacious, wasn't in the mood to look back on the streak on Monday night, saying 'Awww, it's wonderful,' without further elaboration." — Victor Mather, The New York Times, 11 Apr. 2018

Did you know?

Pugnacious individuals are often looking for a fight. While unpleasant, at least their fists are packing an etymological punch. Pugnacious comes from the Latin verb pugnare (meaning "to fight"), which in turn comes from the Latin word for "fist," pugnus. Another Latin word related to pugnus is pugil, meaning "boxer." Pugil is the source of our word pugilist, which means "fighter" and is used especially of professional boxers. Pugnare has also given us impugn ("to assail by words or arguments"), oppugn ("to fight against"), and repugnant (which is now used primarily in the sense of "exciting distaste or aversion," but which has also meant "characterized by contradictory opposition" and "hostile").

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 14, 2018 is:

defenestration • \dee-fen-uh-STRAY-shun\  • noun

1 : a throwing of a person or thing out of a window

2 : a usually swift dismissal or expulsion (as from a political party or office)


Although defenestration may seem an appropriate response to an alarm clock set for too early an hour, the demise of the device does not change the hour of the day.

"It's possible that nobody in Hollywood works harder than Tom Cruise, who, in his latest turn as Ethan Hunt, once again finds himself in a race against time after a mission goes wrong. Expect defenestration, helicopter crashes, and exploding motorbikes." — Vogue (, 22 May 2018

Did you know?

These days defenestration is often used to describe the forceful removal of someone from public office or from some other advantageous position. History's most famous defenestration, however, was one in which the tossing out the window was quite literal. On May 23, 1618, two imperial regents were found guilty of violating certain guarantees of religious freedom. As punishment, they were thrown out the window of Prague Castle. The men survived the 50-foot tumble into the moat, but the incident, which became known as the Defenestration of Prague, marked the beginning of the Bohemian resistance to Hapsburg rule that eventually led to the Thirty Years' War.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 13, 2018 is:

mantic • \MAN-tik\  • adjective

: of or relating to the faculty of divination : prophetic


The magician mesmerized the crowd with her sleight-of-hand tricks as well as her mantic predictions.

"Like everyone else, I was in awe of her mantic abilities, and I think she looked upon my storytelling endeavors with indulgence, having known both my father and my grandfather in their prime." — Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, The Storyteller of Marrakesh, 2011

Did you know?

The adjective mantic comes from the Greek word mantikos, which itself derives from mantis, meaning "prophet." The mantis insect got its name from this same source, supposedly because its posture—with the forelimbs extended as though in prayer—reminded folks of a prophet. Not surprisingly, the combining form -mancy, which means "divination in a (specified) manner" (as in necromancy and pyromancy), is a relative of mantic. A less expected, and more distant, relative is mania, meaning "excitement manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganized behavior, and elevated mood" or "excessive or unreasonable enthusiasm." Mania descends from Greek mainesthai ("to be mad"), a word akin to mantis and its offspring. And indeed, prophesying in ancient Greece was sometimes believed to be "inspired madness."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 12, 2018 is:

epithet • \EP-uh-thet\  • noun

1 : a characterizing word or phrase accompanying or occurring in place of the name of a person or thing

2 : a disparaging or abusive word or phrase

3 : the part of a taxonomic name identifying a subordinate unit within a genus


The school's policy makes it clear that derogatory epithets will not be tolerated.

"Herbert Hoover, who could justifiably campaign as a progressive Republican, pigeonholed Smith as an advocate of state socialism (the same epithet that a spiteful Smith would hurl at Roosevelt in 1936)." — Sam Roberts, The New York Times, 22 Apr. 2018

Did you know?

Nowadays, epithet is usually used negatively, with the meaning "a derogatory word or phrase," but it wasn't always that way. Epithet comes to us via Latin from the Greek noun epitheton and ultimately derives from epitithenai, meaning "to put on" or "to add." In its oldest sense, an epithet is simply a descriptive word or phrase, especially one joined by fixed association to the name of someone or something (as in "Peter the Great" or the stock Homeric phrases "gray-eyed Athena" and "wine-dark sea"). Alternatively, epithets may be used in place of a name (as in "the Peacemaker" or "the Eternal"). These neutral meanings of epithet are still in use, but today the word is more often used in its negative "term of disparagement" sense.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 11, 2018 is:

abrogate • \AB-ruh-gayt\  • verb

1 : to abolish by authoritative action : annul

2 : to treat as nonexistent


"U.S. deterrence in the Taiwan Strait used to resemble U.S. deterrence elsewhere: Washington had a formal alliance with the Republic of China and stationed troops in Taiwan. But the United States abrogated the alliance treaty when it broke official ties with the Republic of China in 1979." — Scott Kastner, The Washington Post, 30 Apr. 2018

"While we must not engage in partisan political acts such as endorsing candidates and parties, to remain silent on the pressing issues of our time is to abrogate our moral responsibility." — Rabbi Dan Fink, The Idaho Statesman, 21 Apr. 2018

Did you know?

If you can't simply wish something out of existence, the next best thing might be to "propose it away." That's more or less what abrogate lets you do—etymologically speaking, at least. Abrogate comes from the Latin root rogare, which means "to propose a law," and ab-, meaning "from" or "away." We won't propose that you try to get away from the fact that rogare is also an ancestor in the family tree of prerogative and interrogate. Abrogate first appeared in English as a verb in the 16th century; it was preceded by an adjective sense meaning "annulled" or "cancelled," which is now obsolete.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 10, 2018 is:

roseate • \ROH-zee-ut\  • adjective

1 : resembling a rose especially in color 

2 : overly optimistic : viewed favorably


"Sometimes mistaken for a flamingo, the roseate spoonbill has lots of pink shades that can fool you." — Lyle Johnson, The Gonzales Weekly Citizen (Ascension, Louisiana), 26 Apr. 2018

"… the Catalan channels, richly funded by the local parliament and putting nationalist devotees in charge, has created a roseate picture of independence that simply doesn't fit the facts." — Peter Preston, The Observer (London), 10 Dec. 2017

Did you know?

"Everything's coming up roses." "He views the world through rose-tinted glasses." "She has a rosy outlook on life." In English, we tend to associate roses and rose color with optimism, and roseate is no exception. Roseate comes from the Latin adjective roseus, and ultimately from the noun rosa, meaning "rose." Figurative use of roseate (with the meaning "happy" or "smiling") began in the 18th century, but the literal sense of the term has been in the language since the 15th century. It's especially well-suited to literary descriptions of sunrises and sunsets: "through yon peaks of cloud-like snow / The roseate sunlight quivers," wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley in Prometheus Unbound. And in an early short story, Edith Wharton wrote, "The sunset was perfect and a roseate light, transfiguring the distant spire, lingered late in the west."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 9, 2018 is:

shenanigan • \shuh-NAN-ih-gun\  • noun

1 : a devious trick used especially for an underhand purpose

2 a : tricky or questionable practices or conduct — usually used in plural

b : high-spirited or mischievous activity — usually used in plural


The CEO resigned amid accusations of financial shenanigans and dubious deals.

"And the protesters outside were just the start of the shenanigans. Inside the building, one person attended the hearing dressed in a Russian troll costume." — Kevin Roose, The New York Times, 16 Apr. 2018

Did you know?

The history of shenanigan is as tricky and mischievous as its meaning. Etymologists have some theories about its origins, but no one has been able to prove them. All we can say for certain is that the earliest known uses of the word in print appeared in the mid-1800s. Although the "underhanded trick" sense of the word is oldest, the most common senses in use now are "tricky or questionable practices" (as in "political shenanigans") and "high-spirited behavior" (as in "youthful shenanigans").

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 8, 2018 is:

whelm • \WELM\  • verb

1 : to turn (something, such as a dish or vessel) upside down usually to cover something : to cover or engulf completely with usually disastrous effect

2 : to overcome in thought or feeling : overwhelm

3 : to pass or go over something so as to bury or submerge it


The hotel was adequate but we were far from whelmed by the view of the alley and the lack of hot water.

"By the time San Jose annexed the town to expand its sewage-treatment plant in 1968, nature had already begun to reclaim the bayside. The town of 2,500 splintered, rusted and sank as groundwater was over-pumped, sea water rose on all sides and storm surges whelmed the backed-up drains." — Jennifer Wadsworth, The San Jose (California) Inside, 8 Dec. 2016

Did you know?

In the film comedy Ten Things I Hate About You (1999), the character Chastity Church asks, "I know you can be underwhelmed and you can be overwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?" The answer, Chastity, is yes. Contemporary writers sometimes use whelm to denote a middle stage between underwhelm and overwhelm. But that's not how whelm has traditionally been used. Whelm and overwhelm have been with us since Middle English (when they were whelmen and overwhelmen), and throughout the years their meanings have largely overlapped. Both words early on meant "to overturn," for example, and both have also come to mean "to overpower in thought or feeling." After folks started using a third word, underwhelmed, for "unimpressed," whelmed began popping up with the meaning "moderately impressed."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 7, 2018 is:

boondoggle • \BOON-dah-gul\  • noun

1 : a braided cord worn by Boy Scouts as a neckerchief slide, hatband, or ornament

2 : a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft


"It may be an urban legend that the Pentagon spent $600 on a hammer in the 1980s, but it's no secret that the Department of Defense has at times acquired a well-deserved reputation for boondoggles and profligate spending." — The National Review, 16 Oct. 2017

"Conservatives often reflexively dismiss infrastructure spending as a boondoggle, and liberals, perhaps in reaction, often reflexively defend it, no matter how wasteful." — Jim Surowiecki, The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2017

Did you know?

When boondoggle popped up in the early 1900s, lots of people tried to explain where the word came from. One theory traced it to an Ozarkian word for "gadget," while another related it to the Tagalog word that gave us boondocks. Another hypothesis suggested that boondoggle came from the name of leather toys Daniel Boone supposedly made for his dog. But the only theory that is supported by evidence is much simpler. In the 1920s, Robert Link, a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, apparently coined the word to name the braided leather cords made and worn by scouts. The word came to prominence when such a boondoggle was presented to the Prince of Wales at the 1929 World Jamboree, and it's been with us ever since.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 6, 2018 is:

unbeknownst • \un-bih-NOHNST\  • adjective

1 : happening or existing without the knowledge of someone specified — usually used with to

2 : not known or not well-known : unknown


"… Travis was the one who paid the bills—and he often used credit cards to cover them, unbeknownst to Vonnie." — Penny Wrenn,, 9 Oct. 2013

"… Senate Bill 15, approved unanimously by that House committee Thursday, hopes to help homeowners who find themselves the victim of 'squatting'—people who illegally move into a home, often unbeknownst to the homeowner." — Marianne Goodland, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado), 12 Apr. 2018

Did you know?

Unbeknownst is an irregular variant of the older unbeknown, which derives from beknown, an obsolete synonym of known. But for a word with a straightforward history, unbeknownst and the now less common unbeknown have caused quite a stir among usage commentators. In spite of widespread use (including appearances in the writings of Charles Dickens, A. E. Housman, and E. B. White), the grammarian H. W. Fowler in 1926 categorized the two words as "out of use except in dialect or uneducated speech." The following year, G. P. Krapp called them "humorous, colloquial, and dialectal." Our evidence, however, shows that both words are standard even in formal prose.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 5, 2018 is:

fustigate • \FUSS-tuh-gayt\  • verb

1 : to beat with or as if with a short heavy club : cudgel

2 : to criticize severely


Matthew was thoroughly ­fustigated for failing to reserve a table large enough to accommodate all of the visitors from the corporate main office.

"Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt …  fustigated them all, effectively characterizing the charges against Duffy as an abuse of power. " — Neil Macdonald,, 23 Apr. 2016

Did you know?

Though it won't leave a bump on your head, severe criticism can be a blow to your self-esteem. It's no wonder that fustigate, when it first appeared in the 17th century, originally meant "to cudgel or beat with a short heavy stick," a sense that reflects the word's derivation from the Latin noun fustis, which means "club" or "staff." The "criticize" sense is more common these days, but the violent use of fustigate was a hit with earlier writers like George Huddesford, who in 1801 told of an angry Jove who "cudgell'd all the constellations, ... / Swore he'd eject the man i' the moon ... / And fustigate him round his orbit."

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