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Cuvantul zilei - Word of the day

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

diaphanous • \dye-AF-uh-nus\  • adjective

1 : characterized by such fineness of texture as to permit seeing through

2 : characterized by extreme delicacy of form : ethereal

3 : insubstantial, vague


"For an hour and 45 minutes, Jackson wound through the various chapters of her career, directing her diaphanous voice to nearly three dozen songs…. " — Brian McCollum, The Detroit Free Press, 30 Oct. 2017

"… no element of Sienna Miller’s wardrobe—the hippy vests, the diaphanous vintage dresses, the scrunched, sun-weathered lace blouses—went undiscussed or undocumented." — Mark Holgate, Vogue, 30 Oct. 2017

Did you know?

Can you guess which of the following words come from the same Greek root as diaphanous?

A. epiphany B. fancy C. phenomenon D. sycophant E. emphasis F. phase

The Greek word phainein shows through more clearly in some of our quiz words than others, but it underlies all of them. The groundwork for diaphanous was laid when phainein (meaning "to show") was combined with dia- (meaning "through"). From that pairing came the Greek diaphanēs, parent of the Medieval Latin diaphanus, which is the direct ancestor of our English word.

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

sustain • \suh-STAYN\  • verb

1 : to provide with nourishment

2 : keep up, prolong

3 : to support the weight of : prop; also : to carry or withstand (a weight or pressure)

4 a : to buoy up

b : suffer, undergo

5 a : to support as true, legal, or just

b : to allow or admit as valid


"It takes a village, a tribe, and a sorority to sustain one another, to flourish and to become an accomplished adult. So sisterhood means inspiring women around me, encouraging each other, crying, laughing, stumbling, and continuing on the path." — Diana Tofan, Glamour, November 2017

"So one of our main goals was how can we make the game safer, prevent the injury that I sustained and that others sustained, head and neck injuries, from happening without affecting the speed, intensity, heritage or adding any more rules to the game." — Thomas Smith, quoted on National Public Radio, 6 Jan. 2014

Did you know?

Sustain, prop, buttress, and brace all mean "to provide support for something or someone." Sustain (from Latin sus-, meaning "up," plus tenēre, meaning "to hold") may suggest constantly holding up or maintaining ("the floor sustains the weight of dozens of bookcases"). Prop often implies a tendency to fall, sink, or recede on the part of the thing being treated—and therefore, a need for strengthening or reinforcing ("propped up the damaged fence with long boards"). Buttress tends to involve strengthening, reinforcing, or stabilizing at a stress point ("buttress the economy"). Brace typically suggests supporting or strengthening so that the thing treated is made firm, unyielding, or rigid against pressure ("brace the shelf with an angle iron").

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

orphic • \OR-fik\  • adjective

1 : (capitalized) of or relating to Orpheus or the rites or doctrines ascribed to him

2 : mystic, oracular

3 : fascinating, entrancing


"'No summer ever came back, and no two summers ever were alike,' said I, with a degree of Orphic wisdom that astonished myself." — Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, 1852

"The market skipped higher last week after some Orphic hints from the Federal Reserve Board that it may lower interest rates this summer." — Alison Grant, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 26 Mar. 2007

Did you know?

Orpheus was a hero of Greek mythology who was supposed to possess superhuman musical skills. With his legendary lyre, he was said to be able to make even the rocks and trees dance around. In fact, when his wife Eurydice died, he was nearly able to use his lyre to secure her return from the underworld. Later on, according to legend, he was killed at the bidding of Dionysus, and an oracle of Orpheus was established that came to rival the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. Because of the oracle of Orpheus, orphic can mean "oracular." Because of Orpheus' musical powers, orphic can also mean "entrancing."

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

cachinnate • \KAK-uh-nayt\  • verb

: to laugh loudly or immoderately


As the author read from her newest book, we tried to tune out the spectator cachinnating at the back of the auditorium.

"And all the way the Fates walking with him, whispering and cachinnating, ordering him to tread there, breathe here, spit there, unless he wanted to be eviscerated by destiny." — Will Self, Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys, 1998

Did you know?

Cachinnate has been whooping it up in English since the 19th century. The word derives from the Latin verb cachinnare, meaning "to laugh loudly," and cachinnare was probably coined in imitation of a loud laugh. As such, cachinnare is much like the Old English ceahhetan, the Old High German kachazzen, and the Greek kachazein—all words of imitative origin that essentially meant "to laugh loudly." Our words giggle and guffaw are unrelated to those (and to each other) but they too are believed to have been modeled after the sound of laughter.

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

zoomorphic • \zoh-uh-MOR-fik\  • adjective

1 : having the form of an animal

2 : of, relating to, or being a deity conceived of in animal form or with animal attributes


The couple could not agree on a dining room set: one preferred a sleek, modern style, while the other liked a more elaborate one with the table and chairs ending in zoomorphic clawed feet.

"The vibrant postmodern façades of Mamani's buildings (and their imitators) contrast with the raw brick and concrete of El Alto's ramshackle architecture.… Ancient motifs, like … zoomorphic figures from mythology, are abstracted and merged with futuristic flourishes." — Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 28 Dec. 2015

Did you know?

Zo- (or zoo-) derives from the Greek word zōion, meaning "animal," and -morph comes from the Greek morphē, meaning "form." These two forms combined to give us the adjective zoomorphic in the 19th century to describe something that resembles an animal. English includes other words that were formed from zo- or zoo-, such as zoology (made with -logy, meaning "science"). And there are also other words that were formed from -morph, such as pseudomorph, for a mineral having the outward form of another species. (The combining form pseud- or pseudo- means "false.")

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

wend • \WEND\  • verb

: to direct one's course : travel, proceed


The hikers wended their way along the forest trail toward the evening's campsite.

"Meanwhile, several lawsuits involving the hotel developments that stoked the city's political divides are still wending their way through the courts." — Sheila Mullane Estrada, The Tampa Bay Times, 13 Oct. 2017

Did you know?

Wend is related to the verb wind, which means, among other things, "to follow a series of curves and turns." It is also a distant relative of the verb wander. Wend itself began its journey in Old English as wendan, which was used in various now-obsolete senses relating to turning or changing direction or position and which is akin to the Old English windan ("to twist"). Wend has twisted itself into various meanings over the years. Most of its senses—including "to come about," "to depart," "to change," and "to betake"—have since wandered off into obscurity, but its use in senses related to going or moving along a course has lent the English verb go its past tense form went (as a past tense form of wend, went has long since been superseded by wended). The current sense of wend, "to direct or to proceed," is holding steady on the path.

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

maieutic • \may-YOO-tik\  • adjective

: relating to or resembling the Socratic method of eliciting new ideas from another


"The maieutic art of Socrates consists, essentially, of asking questions designed to destroy prejudices; false beliefs which are often traditional or fashionable beliefs; false answers, given in the spirit of ignorant cocksureness." — Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, 1962

"Montaigne wrote as a kind of maieutic exercise, a way of drawing his thoughts into the light of day, of discovering what he wanted to say as he said it." — James Somers, The Atlantic, 21 Dec. 2010

Did you know?

Maieutic comes from maieutikos, the Greek word for "of midwifery." In one of Plato's Dialogues, Socrates applies maieutikos to his method of bringing forth new ideas by reasoning and dialogue; he thought the technique analogous to those a midwife uses in delivering a baby (Socrates' mother was a midwife). A teacher who uses maieutic methods can be thought of as an intellectual midwife who assists students in bringing forth ideas and conceptions previously latent in their minds.

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

candor • \KAN-der\  • noun

1 : whiteness, brilliance

2 : freedom from prejudice or malice : fairness

3 : unreserved, honest, or sincere expression : forthrightness


"In an e-mail, Shonda Rhimes praised [Jenji] Kohan's kindness and candor, calling her one of the few showrunners with whom she can talk honestly about career strategy." — Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, 4 Sept. 2017

"'I pay very little attention to legal rules, statutes, constitutional provisions,' he said in a retirement interview. He deserves credit for candor, at least." — National Review, 2 Oct. 2017

Did you know?

The origins of candor shine through in its first definition. Candor traces back to the Latin verb candēre ("to shine or glow"), which in turn derives from the same ancient root that gave the Welsh language can, meaning "white," and the Sanskrit language candati, which translates to "it shines." Other descendants of candēre in English include candid, incandescent, candle, and the somewhat less common candent and candescent (both of which are synonyms of incandescent in the sense of "glowing from or as if from great heat"). There is even excandescence, an uncommon word that refers to a feverish condition brought on by anger or passion.

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

encapsulate • \in-KAP-suh-layt\  • verb

1 : to enclose in or as if in a capsule

2 : to show or express in a brief way : epitomize, summarize

3 : to become enclosed in a capsule


"Just one game encapsulated everything the Patriots have done well in the red zone this year and everything they have not." — Adam Kurkjian, The Boston Herald, 15 Oct. 2017

"Like many other research groups, the Brown team set out to improve the oral uptake of drugs by encapsulating them in polymers that would stick to the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines." — Rebecca Rawls, Chemical & Engineering News, 31 Mar. 1997

Did you know?

Encapsulate and its related noun, capsule, derive from capsula, a diminutive form of the Latin noun capsa, meaning "box." Capsa also gave us our noun case (the container kind; the legal sense has a different origin). The original sense of encapsulate, meaning "to enclose something in a capsule," first appeared in the late 19th century. Its extended meaning, "to give a summary or synopsis of something," plays on the notion of a capsule as something compact, self-contained, and often easily digestible. There is also a verb capsule, which is more or less synonymous with encapsulate.

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

maudlin • \MAUD-lin\  • adjective

1 : drunk enough to be emotionally silly

2 : weakly and effusively sentimental


Rather than give his aunt a maudlin greeting card, Jake looked for one that was more in line with her snarky sense of humor.

"There are scenes of violence, grieving, hardship and heartbreak, but 'Rags' never melts into a puddle of maudlin self-pity. It maintains an optimistic attitude." — James Gill, The New Orleans Advocate, 25 Oct. 2017

Did you know?

The history of maudlin owes as much to the Bible as to the barroom. The biblical Mary Magdalene is often (though some say mistakenly) identified with the weeping sinner who washed Jesus' feet with her tears to repent for her sins. This association led to the frequent depiction of Mary Magdalene as a weeping penitent, and even the name Magdalene came to suggest teary emotion to many English speakers. It was then that maudlin, an alteration of Magdalene, appeared in the English phrase "maudlin drunk," which, as one Englishman explained in 1592, described a tearful drunken state whereby "a fellow will weepe for kindnes in the midst of his Ale and kisse you."

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

pillory • \PILL-uh-ree\  • noun

1 : a wooden frame for public punishment having holes in which the head and hands can be locked

2 : a means for exposing one to public scorn or ridicule


"When I was in college in the 1980s, the general store down the road shamed deadbeats by posting their bounced checks next to the cash register. It was a pillory of sorts, a wall of shame." — Dwight Garner, Esquire, September 2017

"The really offensive thing about the bailouts was … that Congress and the White House and the Treasury and the Fed were more or less making things up as they went along. This bank got rescued, that one didn't. This firm got a bailout on generous terms, that one got the pillory." — Stephen Spruiell and Kevin D. Williamson, The National Review, 5 Apr. 2010

Did you know?

In days gone by, criminals who got caught might well have found themselves in the stocks (which held the feet or both feet and hands) or a pillory. Both of those forms of punishment—and the words that name them—have been around since the Middle Ages. We latched onto pillory from the Anglo-French pilori, which has the same meaning as our English term but the exact origins of which are uncertain. For centuries, pillory referred only to the wooden frame used to hold a ne'er-do-well, but by the early 1600s, folks had turned the word into a verb for the act of putting someone in a pillory. Within a century, they had further expanded the verb to cover any process that led to as much public humiliation as being pilloried.

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

intersperse • \in-ter-SPERSS\  • verb

1 : to place something at intervals in or among

2 : to insert at intervals among other things


The author has interspersed the guidebook with illustrations of the different birds we might encounter on the safari tour.

"Interspersed throughout the beds of deliberately overgrown azaleas, roses, and hydrangeas is the world's largest private collection of sculptures…. — Harper's, 18 Apr. 2017

Did you know?

Intersperse derives from Latin interspersus, formed by combining the familiar prefix inter- ("between or among") with sparsus, the past participle of spargere, meaning "to scatter." In sparsus one finds an ancestor to our adjective sparse, as well as a relative of spark. (The relationship of spark to a word that describes something being scattered about makes sense when you think of sparks bursting or scattering off a flame.) Intersperse is often followed by the preposition with, as in "a straggling street of comfortable white and red houses, interspersed with abundant shady trees" (from H. G.  Wells' 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds).

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

anachronism • \uh-NAK-ruh-niz-um\  • noun

1 : an error in chronology; especially : a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other

2 : a person or a thing that is chronologically out of place; especially : one from a former age that is incongruous in the present

3 : the state or condition of being chronologically out of place


"There are the truly strange anachronisms throughout. Félicie traipses around in denim shorts, and the characters … make 'Hammer Time' jokes. And yet we know it's supposed to be the 19th century because of the proliferation of top hats and horse-drawn carriages, and because both the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty are under construction." — Katie Walsh, The Los Angeles Times, 24 Aug. 2017

"With social media and its instantaneous but faux connection, postcards are a quaint anachronism. Part of me is hopelessly old-fashioned, so I'll revive the practice of sending 'postcards' for the next few weeks in lieu of normal columns." — Mark A. Cohen, Forbes, 9 Oct. 2017

Did you know?

An anachronism is something that is out of place in terms of time or chronology. The word derives from chronos, the Greek word for "time," and ana-, a Greek prefix meaning "up," "back," or "again." In its earliest English use, anachronism referred to an error in the dating of something (as, for example, in etymology, when a word or use is mistakenly assumed to have arisen earlier than it did). Anachronisms were sometimes distinguished from parachronisms, chronological errors in which dates are set later than is correct. But parachronism did not stand the test of time. It is now a very rare word.

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

scurrilous • \SKUR-uh-lus\  • adjective

1 a : using or given to coarse language

b : vulgar and evil

2 : containing obscenities, abuse, or slander


The actor publically apologized to his young fans for his scurrilous tweets.

"Because he was friendlier with her highness than protocol allowed …, he created a strong impression …, which boosted his status from her royal servant to close friend, which triggered much scurrilous backstage gossip among the sovereign's fawning aides and officials…." — Colin Covert, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), 29 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

Scurrilous (and its much rarer relation scurrile, which has the same meaning) comes from Middle French scurrile. The Middle French word, in turn, comes from the Latin scurrilis, from scurra, which means "buffoon" or "jester." Fittingly, 18th-century lexicographer Samuel Johnson defined scurrilous as "using such language as only the licence [sic] of a buffoon could warrant." Qualities traditionally associated with buffoonery—vulgarity, irreverence, and indecorousness—are qualities often invoked by the word scurrilous. Unlike the words of a jester, however, "scurrilous" language of the present day more often intends to seriously harm or slander than to produce a few laughs.

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

bludge • \BLUJ\  • verb

1 : (chiefly Australia & New Zealand) to avoid work or responsibility

2 : (chiefly Australia & New Zealand) to get something from or live on another by imposing on hospitality or good nature : sponge


"I'll catch the ferry or bludge a ride on the new boat of one of my commodity-boomed nouveau riche friends." — Phil Haberland, The Guardian Express (Australia), 6 Mar. 2007

"What I've never done, however, is use a hangover as an excuse to bludge." — Tom Elliott, The Herald Sun (Australia), 15 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

Though they can be annoying, people who bludge—bludgers—are relatively harmless. On the other hand, a bully armed with a bludgeon—a "bludgeoner"—can cause serious harm. In the 19th century, bludgeoner was shortened to bludger and used as a slang word for "pimp." That bludger was certainly a kind of bully, one apparently willing to wield a bludgeon now and then to insure his livelihood. In the early 20th century, bludge became the verb for what a bludger does. By then, a somewhat softened bludger had appeared in Australia and New Zealand: the pimping and the bullying were eliminated, and the parasitical tendencies reduced to mere cadging or sponging.

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

harbinger • \HAHR-bun-jer\  • noun

1 : one that initiates a major change : a person or thing that originates or helps open up a new activity, method, or technology : pioneer

2 : something that foreshadows a future event : something that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come


When the star running back went down with an injury in the team's first game, it turned out to be the harbinger of a disappointing season.

"A lot is riding on the results, which will be widely read as … a harbinger of the 2018 congressional midterm elections." — Laura Vozzella, The Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2017

Did you know?

When medieval travelers needed lodging for the night, they went looking for a harbinger. As long ago as the 12th century, harbinger was used to mean "one who provides lodging" or "a host," but that meaning is now obsolete. Later on, harbinger was also being used for a person sent ahead of a main party to seek lodgings, often for royalty or a campaigning army, but that old sense has largely been left in the past, too. Those sent ahead would announce the approach of who was following behind, and that's how our modern sense of harbinger (from the Anglo-French herberge, meaning "lodgings") acquired the sense with which we are familiar today, that of something which foretells a future event.

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

anneal • \uh-NEEL\  • verb

1 a : to heat and then cool (a material, such as steel or glass) usually for softening and making less brittle; also : to cool slowly usually in a furnace

b : to heat and then cool (double-stranded nucleic acid) in order to separate strands and induce combination at lower temperature with complementary strands

2 : strengthentoughen

3 : to be capable of combining with complementary nucleic acid by a process of heating and cooling


"Before and after the Eagles organized team activities last spring, Nelson Agholor retreated to his hometown for a series of training sessions with an old friend and mentor that would anneal his mind as much as his body." — Mike Sielski, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 Oct. 2017

"Primarily I work in brass and silver-soldered brass. The process is heating and annealing the brass, bending it, soldering pieces together to get the general form and then slowly bending until the pieces fit." — Andrew Watt, quoted in The Washington Post, 10 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

If you were looking for a saying to apply to the word anneal, it might be "everything old is new again." The word was originally associated with one of the oldest technologies of humankind: fire. It derives from the Old English word onǣlan, which was formed from the Old English root āl, meaning "fire." In its earliest known uses, anneal meant simply "to set on fire." That sense has become obsolete, however, and nowadays anneal is associated with metalworking and glasswork as well as a much more recent technological development. As addressed in sense 3 of the definition, it has come to be used in the context of DNA research, in reference to the heating and cooling of double-stranded nucleic acid.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 26, 2017 is:

illustrious • \ih-LUSS-tree-us\  • adjective

: notably or brilliantly outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions : eminent


During the ceremony, the illustrious star of stage and screen was presented with a lifetime achievement award.

"For the first time, WWE's illustrious father-daughter duo 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair and Charlotte come together to tell their legendary story through their autobiography Second Nature…." — Jim Varsallone, The Miami Herald, 26 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

Illustrious people seem to light up everything around them. The etymology of illustrious makes it clear that a shining glow (both literal and figurative) has long been associated with the word. Illustrious derives from the Latin illustris, which was probably a back-formation of the verb illustrare ("to illustrate"), which in turn comes from lustrare, meaning "to purify" or "to make bright," and which is related to the Latin noun lustrum that gave us luster. At one time, illustrious was used in the literal sense of "shining brightly with light," but that meaning is now considered archaic. The word is today almost exclusively used in its figurative application to describe something that stands out brilliantly, much like a bright star stands out in the sky.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 25, 2017 is:

non sequitur • \NAHN-SEK-wuh-ter\  • noun

1 : an inference that does not follow from the premises

2 : a statement (such as a response) that does not follow logically from or is not clearly related to anything previously said


Unprepared for the question, the speaker gave a response that was a jumble of non sequiturs and irrelevant observations.

"Chicago scored well on 'digital security,' because, as the report notes, 'the city is home to several leading cyber security firms and in January its mayor … announced the launch of a new cyber security training initiative.' This non sequitur is like saying that New Jersey is the healthiest state because it is home to so many pharmaceutical companies." — Nicole Gelinas, City Journal, 20 Oct. 2017

Did you know?

In Latin, non sequitur means "it does not follow." The phrase was borrowed into English in the 1500s by people who made a formal study of logic. For them it meant a conclusion that does not follow from the statements that lead to it. But we now use non sequitur for any kind of statement that seems to come out of the blue. The Latin verb sequi ("to follow") has actually led the way for a number of English words. A sequel follows the original novel, film, or television show. Someone obsequious follows another about, flattering and fawning. And an action is often followed by its consequence.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 24, 2017 is:

mucilaginous • \myoo-suh-LAJ-uh-nus\  • adjective

1 : sticky, viscid

2 : of, relating to, full of, or secreting mucilage


"It started quietly last summer, when social media watchers began buzzing about it. Tweens had struck on a recipe for a mucilaginous, stomach-turning substance and were posting videos of themselves playing with it. The slime trend had hit." — Robert Klara, Adweek, 8 May 2017

"… okra is best picked right off the vine, before it gets too big. For this recipe, a simple bath in milk, a romp in a bowl of flour and cornmeal, and a dip in hot oil are all that's needed to render the mucilaginous veggie into the ambrosial stuff of cafeteria dreams." — Courtney Bond, Texas Monthly, July 2016

Did you know?

Unlike its meanings, there's nothing terribly sticky about the origin and use of mucilaginous. Like thousands of other words in the English language, mucilaginous (and the noun mucilage) oozed out of Latin during the 15th century. Mucilage is from Late Latin's word for "mucus," mucilago, and is used for the gelatinous substance found in various plants, such as legumes or seaweeds. Mucilaginous stuck as the noun's adjective form and is used by scientists and foodies alike for sticky or mucous things.

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