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New Game: What's the Word?

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What's the Word? - DEMUR

pronunciation: [də-mər]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: Latin, 12th century

 

meaning:

1. Raise doubts or objections or show reluctance.

2. (Law) Put forward a demurrer.

 

Example:

"This is an open forum — please demur if you don't agree." 
"If you don't agree with the charge, your lawyer can demur."

 

About Demur

As with many words that are rooted in Latin, there was a progression through other languages to get to English. In Latin, “de-” means away or completely, and “morari” means delay. Then it moved into Old French as demourer (verb) and demeure (noun). As it moved from French into Middle English, demur was to delay, but it’s also an objection. Maybe even an objection at a delay.

 

Did you know?

To demur means you are objecting, doubting, or showing your reluctance. The verb is also used in a legal sense to file a demurrer, or objection. But if you DON’T have any qualms, you might use demur as a noun. Demur is almost always used in the negative as a noun: “I agreed to his compromise without demur.”

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What's the Word? - AMBROSIA

pronunciation: [am-BRO-zhə]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Greek, mid-16th century

 

meaning:

1. Something very pleasing to taste or smell.

2. (Greek mythology) The food of the gods.

 

Example:

"The dessert you served last night was pure ambrosia." 
"Ambrosia is a powerful element in many stories of Greek mythology."

 

About Ambrosia

Ambrosia comes from Greek mythology. In many stories, gods who consumed ambrosia were given immortality. The word for “food of the gods” comes from the Greek word for immortal, “ambrotos.” You can feel godlike yourself if you want to claim your favorite dish is ambrosia upon your lips.

 

Did you know?

The smell of freshly baked cookies in the air, the taste of ripe strawberries — anything that smells or tastes delicious can be called ambrosia. But if you want to make ambrosia, there is a specific recipe. It’s a salad (we’re using that word loosely) containing marshmallows, sour cream, shredded coconut, oranges and pineapple.

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What's the Word? - DALLY

pronunciation: [DAL-ee]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: Old French, 15th century

 

meaning:

1. Act or move slowly.

2. Have a casual romantic liaison with.

 

Example:

"I was enjoying the spring weather so much that I dallied on my way back to the office." 
"He’s not looking for a serious relationship, but he has been known to dally with a new romance."

 

About Dally

Here’s a handy little verb with two different definitions. You probably won’t dally if you’re going to dally with someone. If you’re dallying (having a casual romantic relationship), there’s not a long courtship, so you won’t dally (delay) going on a few dates.

 

Did you know?

In Old French, “dailer” meant to chat. As the word progressed into English it adopted the definition of moving slowly — or to have a romantic entanglement. There is a connecting thread here. You might waste time by having a leisurely chat, and that conversation could lead to romance — all forms of dallying.

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What's the Word? - REDOLENT

pronunciation: [RED-ihl-ənt]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, 15th century

 

meaning:

1. Strongly reminiscent or suggestive of (something)

2. Strongly smelling of.

 

Example:

"The small homes are redolent of the initial ones in the city." 
"The aromas of spring are redolent with flowers and freshly cut grass."

 

About Redolent

You can use redolent to describe anything that reminds you of something else, but the original usage was related to smell. In Latin, "red" means back, or again, and "olere" means to smell. That gives us "redolent" in Latin, meaning giving out a strong smell. The spelling and meaning passed through to Old French and into Middle English in the 15th century.

 

Did you know?

Scent is one of the most powerful triggers for memory. Incoming smells pass through the olfactory bulb in your nose, directly to the hippocampus and amygdala. These areas in your brain are responsible for emotion and memory. This pathway explains why a kitchen redolent of baking cookies reminds you of Grandma.

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What's the Word? - SWAIN

pronunciation: [sweyn]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Old Norse, 14th century

 

meaning:

1. A young lover or suitor.

2. A country youth.

 

Example:

"The eager swain showed up at her door with a bouquet of flowers to ask her to prom." 
"He didn’t often leave the farm, but the swain went into town for supplies once a month."

 

About Swain

It’s an old-fashioned term for a beau, boyfriend, or suitor. While the term isn’t used much these days, we highly recommend introducing your new boyfriend as your swain — the charming moniker might win over mom and dad.

 

Did you know?

In Old Norse, “sveinn” meant boy, or servant. Old English adopted swain to describe the young man attending a knight. It picked up a few more definitions over the years, with swain meaning a country youth, and then a gentleman suitor. The courting version stuck around in romantic literature.

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What's the Word? - VALEDICTION

pronunciation: [val-ih-DIK-shən]

 

Part of speech: NOUN

Origin: Latin, mid-17th century

 

meaning:

1. The action of saying farewell.

2. The word or phrase used to close out a letter before the signature.

 

Example:

"Make sure to give your mother a valediction before you leave for the weekend." 
"I always struggle with choosing an appropriate valediction for emails to my boss."

 

About Valediction

There’s valediction (the act of saying farewell), valedictorian (the student chosen to deliver a farewell address at a commencement ceremony), and valedictory, which is the noun for that speech, or an adjective describing something of a farewell nature.

 

Did you know?

If you’re a regular at church, you’ll know the benediction is the blessing given at the end of the service. Valediction has a similar Latin etymology. “Bene” in Latin is to wish well or bless. “Vale” is goodbye and “dicere” is to say. Benediction or valediction — depending on the context — are both appropriate ways to say goodbye.

Edited by DarkRavie
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What's the Word? - BALACLAVA

pronunciation: [bal-ə-KLAH-və]

 

Part of speech: NOUN

Origin: Turkish, mid-19th century

 

meaning:

1. A close-fitting garment covering the whole head and neck except for parts of the face, typically made of wool.

 

Example:

"It was too cold to wear just a hat, so he pulled out his balaclava." 
"Adding a balaclava under his ski helmet made it fit perfectly."

 

About Balaclava

They're not just for bank robbers — the balaclava is popular in cold climates and in certain sports. This close-fitting hat covers the whole head, neck and parts of the face, usually leaving only the eyes bare.

 

Did you know?

This winter weather accessory came about because the British troops suffered in the cold during the Crimean War. Kind folks back home heard about their plight and started knitting. The special hat made to be worn under the helmet came to be called the balaclava, after the city of Balaklava in the Crimea.

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What's the Word? - POTATION

pronunciation: [po-TEY-shən]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Latin, 15th century

 

meaning:

1. A drink.

2. The action of drinking alcohol.

 

Example:

"Sit down and join me for a potation." 
"A majority of the plans for the bachelor party concerned copious potation."

 

About Potation

Head to your favorite watering hole, and order a potation. It’s not a fancy cocktail made by a mixologist; it’s just a drink. Potation is a bit of an old-fashioned term for a beverage, usually alcoholic. Bartender’s choice when you ask for a potation.

 

Did you know?

Po-TEY-tion, po-TAH-tion. Actually, potation has nothing to do with potatoes. The Latin verb “potare” means to drink, and that turned into “potation” in Old French and then Middle English. The noun form means a drink, or the action of drinking.

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What's the Word? - SWASH

pronunciation: [swawsh]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: Imitative, 16th century

 

meaning:

1. (of water or an object in water) move with a splashing sound.

2. (of a person) flamboyantly swagger about or wield a sword.

 

Example:

"Break out the kiddie pool and let the little ones play and swash in the water."
"He loves to watch Olympic fencing as the graceful fighters swash back and forth."

 

About Swash

As a verb, swash describes splashing water, but it also applies to a particularly flamboyant swagger, especially while wielding a sword. Just picture Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride” — “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

 

Did you know?

The etymology of swash can’t be traced back to a particular language; it’s imitative. That means the word imitates a particular sound, such as the swish-swash of moving water back and forth. You can also call an imitative word an onomatopoeia.

Edited by DarkRavie
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What's the Word? - MUMMER

pronunciation: [mə-mər]

 

Part of speech: NOUN

Origin: Old French, 15th century

 

meaning:

1. An actor in a traditional masked mime, especially of a type popular in England in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

2. A pantomimist.

 

Example:

"Our trip to England included a theatrical performance by a traditional mummer." 
"The mummer performed on the corner every day, occasionally receiving donations from the crowd."

 

About Mummer

Mummer is thought to be a combination of the Old French verb “momer,” meaning to wear a mask, and the Middle English verb “mommen,” meaning to mutter or be silent. This gives us mummer, or one who practices the art of pantomime. Today you’ll typically find a mime wearing a full face of white paint instead of a mask.

 

Did you know?

While pantomime plays featuring mummers as actors reached peak popularity in the 18th and early 19th centuries, some more modern mimes have also gained notoriety. Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp character was a breakout star in silent films. And perhaps the most famous mime, Marcel Marceau, charmed the world as Bip the Clown.

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What's the Word? - ABSTEMIOUS

pronunciation: [əb-STEE-mee-əs]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, early 17th century

 

meaning:

1. Not self-indulgent, especially when eating and drinking.

2. Abstaining.

 

Example:

"He threw his abstemious diet out the window and indulged in cake on his birthday."

"The family was very abstemious, keeping no sugar or junk food in the house."

 

About Abstemious

“Abstemius” in Latin is spelled slightly differently from its English counterpart, abstemious, but they mean the same thing. “Ab” means from and “temetum” means alcoholic drink. An abstemious man is one who does not indulge in excessive food or drink.

 

Did you know?

There’s a fun trick hidden in the word abstemious. Take a look at the vowels — notice anything? Each vowel appears only once and in alphabetical order. Feel free to use this bit of trivia at your next happy hour.

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What's the Word? - JAPE

pronunciation: [jayp]

 

Part of speech: VERB

Origin: English, 14th century

 

meaning:

1. Say or do something in jest or mockery.

2. To make a joke of something.

 

Example:

"He managed to jape at the beginning of his speech, so it wasn't quite so dry." 
"The children laugh and jape while they wait in the lunchline."

 

About Jape

Jape, as a verb, means to make a joke, but you can also use it as a noun. On April Fools' Day you might pull a jape, or a practical joke, on your family. May we suggest filling the bathroom with balloons overnight?

 

Did you know?

Jape is an English word that doesn't have a clear etymology from a foreign or ancient language. Chaucer used it in the 14th century in the senses of both trickery and mockery. Then somehow it gained the meaning of sexual intercourse. Most writers stopped using it then for fear of misinterpretation, but jape is still used in literary or formal writing.

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What's the Word? - TRANSPICUOUS

pronunciation: [trans-PIK-yoo-əs]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, mid-17th century

 

meaning:

1. Transparent.

2. Easily understood, lucid.

 

Example:

"After spring cleaning, my windows were transpicuous and sparkling." 
"Your argument is well reasoned and transpicuous."

 

About Transpicuous

Transpicuous means something is transparent, or can be seen through. It can be in a literal sense, as in a crystal-clear plate glass window, or you can use it in a more figurative sense. You’re trying to be transpicuous about your feelings for your new girlfriend. Either way, it’s easy to see.

 

Did you know?

The Latin root for transpicuous is “transpicere,” meaning to look through, but “specere” on its own means to look or see. You might recognize a few other “seeing” words that share this origin. Conspicuous means attracting notice; inspect means to look at something closely.

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What's the Word? - APPETENCY

pronunciation: [APP-ə-dən-see]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Latin, early 17th century

 

meaning:

1. A longing or desire.

2. A natural tendency or affinity.

 

Example:

"Pickles and ice cream were the strangest appetency that popped up during her pregnancy." 
"My grandfather always had an appetency for woodworking and carving."

 

About Appetency

The Latin verb “appetere,” meaning to seek after, is the root of both appetency and appetite. In addition to the definition of a hunger, appetency also means a natural inclination for something. If you have an appetency for cooking, you might want to consider culinary school.

 

Did you know?

One definition of appentency, a longing or desire, is a synonym for appetite, but it has more of a strong craving attached to it. If you use appetency instead of appetite, there is probably an emotional hunger associated with your desire.

Edited by DarkRavie
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What's the Word? - PORTAGE

pronunciation: [POHR-dij]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: French, late 17th century

 

meaning:

1. The carrying of a boat or its cargo between two navigable waters.

2. A place where carrying a boat is necessary.

 

Example:

"Our canoe trip required portage from the river into the larger lake." 
"The view of the waterfall from the portage was breathtaking."

 

About Portage

Portage as a noun is the act of carrying a boat between bodies of water, or the place where it is done. But it can also be used as a verb for this same activity: "We needed to portage to reach the lake."

 

Did you know?

Portage is a popular name for towns and other locations. There's Portage County, Wisconsin, Portage Park in Chicago, Portage, Indiana, and Portage Township in Michigan. It's especially popular in Alaska: Portage Lake, Portage Creek, Portage Glacier Highway, and the ghost town of Portage.

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What's the Word? - COLLOGUE

pronunciation: [kə-LOWG]

 

Part of speech: VERB

Origin: Latin, early 17th century

 

meaning:

1. Talk confidentially or conspiratorially.

2. (obsolete) Flatter, pretend to agree with or believe.

 

Example:

"When you’re alone, I need to collogue with you." 
"The siblings collogued after dinner to discuss their mother’s surprise birthday party."

 

About Collogue

If you have a secret plan, you might collogue with your conspirators. To collogue means to speak confidentially. In the past there was another usage for flattering speech, but that got pushed out in favor of sharing secrets.

 

Did you know?

Not much is known about the etymology of collogue, but it’s safe to assume there is a tie to the Latin word “colloqui,” meaning to converse. If you’re attending an academic conference, it might be called a colloquium, but you can also find similar gatherings called collogues.

 

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What's the Word? - AGGLOMERATE

pronunciation: [ə-GLAHM-ər-ate]

 

Part of speech: VERB

Origin: Latin, late 17th century

 

meaning:

1. Collect or form into a mass or group.

 

Example:

"The students agglomerated at the football field for the rally." 
"If you can agglomerate the laundry into one pile, it will be easier to manage."

 

About Agglomerate

In Latin, “glomus” is a ball. From that we get the verb “agglomerate,” which roughly means added to a ball. In English, agglomerate is mainly used in a more technical sense for gathering up something into a group.

 

Did you know?

Agglomerate is one of those special words that can be used as a verb, a noun, and an adjective. You can agglomerate a mound of spilled cereal; an agglomerate of cereal can be in a bowl, and an agglomerate pile of cereal on the floor just looks messy.

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What's the Word? - FANDANGLE

pronunciation: [fan-DAYN-ɡəl]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Unknown 19th century

 

meaning:

1. A useless or purely ornamental thing.

 

Example:

"I couldn’t resist buying the little fandangle at the beachside souvenir store."
"Her wedding dress was covered in bows and lace and fandangles."

 

About Fandangle

There’s not much use for this object, but it sure is pretty. Maybe you have a cabinet full of knick-knacks, or your bed is covered with ornamental pillows. Anything with purely decorative potential, but no real use — that’s a fandangle.

 

Did you know?

Fandangle can’t be traced back to a specific root language, but it’s safe to assume it’s related to fandango. This is the name for a lively Spanish dance accompanied by a tambourine, or the name for an elaborate process or activity. Fandangle came about in the 19th century, likely as an alteration of the second definition of fandango.

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What's the Word? - DISPORT

pronunciation: [də-SPORT]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: French, 14th century

 

meaning:

1. Enjoy oneself unrestrainedly.

2. Frolic.

 

Example:

"Let go of your inhibitions and find a way to disport yourself every day." 
"Put a smile on your face by watching a video of puppies playing and disporting."

 

About Disport

The Middle English term disport comes from the Old French word “desporter” with the literal translation of “carry away.” If you just get too excited and get carried away with yourself, that’s the perfect depiction of the verb disport.

 

Did you know?

Not all words from Middle English are recognizable today, but disport has held the same playful meaning as it did when Chaucer used it. Can you translate this line from “The Merchant’s Tale”? “Dooth hym disport — he is a gentil man.”

 

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What's the Word? - FLOCCULENT

pronunciation: [FLAHK-yə-lənt]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, early 19th century

 

meaning:

1. Having or resembling tufts of wool.

2. Having a loosely clumped texture.

 

Example:

"The flocculent sheep were ready for their spring shearing." 
"Your potting soil should be slightly damp and flocculent."

 

About Flocculent

If the word flocculent makes you think of a flock of sheep, well, you'd be correct. In Latin, "floccus" means tuft of wool, so the adjective flocculent can apply to the woolly sheep themselves, or anything with a similarly tufty texture.

 

Did you know?

The adjective flocculent describes a tufty texture, but there's also a noun, flocculation. This chemical process occurs when clumps of a substance start to form. It's important for water treatment processes and even beer brewing. Yeast flocculation is a vital step in brewing your favorite IPA.

Edited by DarkRavie
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