Tag Archives: word of the day

Word of the Day: aphorism

aph·o·rism noun \ˈa-fə-ˌri-zəm\

: a short phrase that expresses a true or wise idea


Full Definition of APHORISM

1:  a concise statement of a principle
2:  a terse formulation of a truth or sentiment :  adage
aph·o·rist noun
aph·o·ris·tic adjective
aph·o·ris·ti·cal·ly adverb

Examples of APHORISM

  1. When decorating, remember the familiar aphorism, less is more.
  2. <what does the aphorism Hindsight is 20/20 mean?>
  3. Confronted by a broadminded, witty, and tolerant cosmopolitan, for whom the infinite varieties of human custom offered a source of inexhaustible fascination, Thucydides presented himself as a humorless nationalist, an intellectual given to political aphorisms and abstract generalizations. —Peter Green, New York Review of Books, 15 May 2008

Origin of APHORISM

Middle French aphorisme, from Late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos definition, aphorism, from aphorizein to define, from apo- + horizein to bound — more at horizon

First Known Use: 1528

Related to APHORISM

adage, saying, apothegm, byword, epigram, maxim, proverb, saw, sententia, word
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Word of the Day: interposition

in·ter·po·si·tion noun \-pə-ˈzi-shən\


a :  the act of interposing

b :  the action of a state whereby its sovereignty is placed between its citizens and the federal government

:  something interposed

First Known Use of INTERPOSITION

14th century
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Word of the Day: existentialism

ex·is·ten·tial·ism noun \-ˈten(t)-shə-ˌli-zəm\


: a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad


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Word of the Day: epiphany

epiph·a·ny noun \i-ˈpi-fə-nē\

Epiphany : a Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus Christ

: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way

plural epiph·a·nies

Full Definition of EPIPHANY

capitalized: January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ
: an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being
a (1): a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2): an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3): an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

b: a revealing scene or moment

Examples of EPIPHANY

  1. Seeing her father again when she was an adult was an epiphany that changed her whole view of her childhood.
  2. Invention has its own algorithm: genius, obsession, serendipity, and epiphany in some unknowable combination. —Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker, 12 May 2008

Origin of EPIPHANY

Middle English epiphanie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin epiphania, from Late Greek, plural, probably alteration of Greek epiphaneia appearance, manifestation, from epiphainein to manifest, from epi- + phainein to show — more at fancy

First Known Use: 14th century
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Word of the Day: abnegation

ab·ne·ga·tion noun \ˌab-ni-ˈgā-shən\

Definition of ABNEGATION

: denial; especially: self-denial

Examples of ABNEGATION

  1. <the couple’s sudden abnegation of life in the fast lane for work as missionaries stunned everyone>


Late Latin abnegation-, abnegatio, from Latin abnegare to refute, from ab- + negare to deny — more at negate

First Known Use: 14th century


renunciation, renouncement, repudiation, self-denial
indulgence, self-indulgence
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Word of the Day: pusillanimity

pu·sil·la·nim·i·ty noun \ˌpyü-sə-lə-ˈni-mə-tē also ˌpyü-zə-\


: the quality or state of being pusillanimous : cowardliness


  1. <the pusillanimity shown by the press on this issue after the administration began applying pressure>

First Known Use of PUSILLANIMITY

14th century


cowardliness, cravenness, dastardliness, gutlessness, poltroonery, cowardice, spinelessness
bravery, courage, courageousness, daring, dauntlessness, doughtiness, fearlessness, gallantry, greatheartedness, guts, hardihood, heart, heroism, intrepidity, intrepidness, nerve, stoutness, valiance, valor, virtue
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Word of the Day: resolute

res·o·lute adjective \ˈre-zə-ˌlüt, -lət\ : very determined : having or showing a lot of determination

Full Definition of RESOLUTE

1: marked by firm determination : resolved <a resolute character>
2: bold, steady <a resolute gaze>
res·o·lute·ly\-ˌlüt-lē, -lət-; ˌre-zə-ˈlüt-\adverb
res·o·lute·ness\-ˌlüt-nəs, -lət-, –ˈlüt-\noun

Examples of RESOLUTE

  1. She is a resolute competitor.
  2. He has remained resolute in his opposition to the bill.
  3. a leader with a stern and resolute manner

Origin of RESOLUTE

Latin resolutus, past participle of resolvere

First Known Use: 1533

Related to RESOLUTE

bent (on or upon), bound, decisive, do-or-die, firm, hell-bent (on or upon), intent, out, purposeful, determined, resolved, set, single-minded
faltering, hesitant, indecisive, irresolute, undetermined, unresolved, vacillating, wavering, weak-kneed
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Word of the Day: serendipity

ser·en·dip·i·ty noun \ˌser-ən-ˈdi-pə-tē\ : luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

Full Definition of SERENDIPITY

: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also: an instance of this


from its possession by the heroes of the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip

First Known Use: 1754
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Word of the Day: desiccate

des·ic·cate verb \ˈde-si-ˌkāt\


Definition of DESICCATE

transitive verb
1: to dry up
2: to preserve (a food) by drying : dehydrate
3: to drain of emotional or intellectual vitality
intransitive verb
: to become dried up
des·ic·ca·tion \ˌde-si-ˈkā-shən\noun
de·sic·ca·tive \ˈde-si-ˌkā-tiv\adjective
des·ic·ca·tor \ˈde-si-ˌkā-tər\noun

Examples of DESICCATE

  1. dryasdust prose desiccates what is actually an exciting period in European history>
  2. <add a cup of desiccated coconut to the mix>


Latin desiccatus, past participle of desiccare to dry up, from de- + siccare to dry, from siccus dry — more at sack

First Known Use: 1575
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Word of the Day: detritus

de·tri·tus noun \di-ˈtrī-təs\

: the pieces that are left when something breaks, falls apart, is destroyed, etc.

plural de·tri·tus \-ˈtrī-təs, –ˈtrī-ˌtüs\

Full Definition of DETRITUS

1: loose material (as rock fragments or organic particles) that results directly from disintegration
a: a product of disintegration, destruction, or wearing away : debris

b: miscellaneous remnants : odds and ends <sifting through the detritus of his childhood — Michael Tomasky>

de·tri·tal \-ˈtrī-təl\adjective

Examples of DETRITUS

  1. the detritus of ancient civilizations
  2. As he packed, he sifted through the detritus of a failed relationship.

Origin of DETRITUS

French détritus, from Latin detritus, past participle of deterere

First Known Use: 1802
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