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New Game: What's the Word?

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What's the Word? - BURGHER

pronunciation: [BER-ger]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Middle Dutch, 15th century

 

Meaning

1. A citizen of a town or city, typically a member of the wealthy bourgeoisie.

 

Example:

"I'm not just a citizen of this town; I consider myself a burgher of the world."

"After five years of living in the UK, Tina finally qualified to become a burgher."

 

About Burgher

Burgher developed from the Middle English word "burgh" (town) and the Dutch words "burger" (citizen) and "burg" (castle). The word "borough" (which describes a town or district) originated from these same roots.

 

Did You Know?

There's a difference between being a citizen and being a resident. If you are a citizen (burgher) of a town, then you have met the requirements to perform certain actions, like voting and running for office. A resident, on the other hand, simply resides in a particular area — they may not be a burgher.

 

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What's the Word? - QUIDDITY

pronunciation: [KWID-ə-dee]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Latin, 14th century

 

Meaning

1. The inherent nature or essence of someone or something.

2. A distinctive feature; a peculiarity.

 

Example:

"Her love of singing is as much a quiddity as her brown hair is."

"Many people share the quiddity of dipping their fries into their milkshakes."

 

About Quiddity

Quiddity is a Middle English word, but originally developed in Latin from the words "quidditas" and "quid" (which both mean "what").

 

Did You Know?

Taking a personality test today might mean completing a career assessment or seeing if you share a particular quiddity with a friend. The first personality tests were created during WWI, when psychologists tried to assess the mental hardiness of U.S. Army recruits.

 

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What's the Word? - FALSTAFFIAN

pronunciation: [fall-STAF-ee-ən]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Unknown, 1800s

 

Meaning

1. Relating to or resembling Shakespeare's character Sir John Falstaff in being fat, jolly, and debauched.

 

Example:

"The Falstaffian lion barely moved when the safari truck drew near."

"Despite a Falstaffian reputation, he could quickly become very serious."

 

About Falstaffian

The word Falstaffian developed from William Shakespeare's character Sir John Falstaff. In transition from a proper noun to adjective, the word has come to describe people similar to Falstaff (rotund and jolly).

 

Did You Know?

William Shakespeare's character Sir John Falstaff appears in a grand total of three plays — Henry IV, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Falstaff was predominantly used by the Bard as comic relief, though he does show brief depth of character.

 

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What's the Word? - RUPESTRIAN

pronunciation: [roo-PES-tree-ən]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, late 18th century

 

Meaning

1. (of art) done on rock or cave walls.

 

Example:

"Archeologists were excited to discover rupestrian markings inside the cave."

"The oldest rupestrian art can be found in Western European cave systems."

 

About Rupestrian

Rupestris developed from the modern Latin words "rupes" (rock) and "rupestris" (found on rocks).

 

Did You Know?

The Dabous giraffes, rupestrian art thought to be created between 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, are the carvings of two life-sized giraffes found at the Western Air Mountains in Niger. Scientists believe that these carvings were done using tools made from petrified wood, and they are remarkably lifelike in appearance.

 

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What's the Word? - GELID

pronunciation: [JEL-id]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, early 17th century

 

Meaning

1. Icy; extremely cold.

 

Example:

"Chicago is gelid in the winter."

"Greta called in sick to avoid having to navigate the gelid roads."

 

About Gelid

Gelid developed from the Latin words "gelidus" and "gelus," which mean "frost or intense cold."

 

Did You Know?

You might find yourself shivering in gelid weather. When the body shivers, your skin tightens and your muscles shake — a response that is supposed to help generate heat in chilly situations. You can think of this as the opposite of sweating, a bodily function that attempts to cool the body's temperature when hot.

 

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What's the Word? - PALADIN

pronunciation: [PAL-ə-dn]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: French, late 16th century

 

Meaning

1. Any of the twelve peers of Charlemagne's court, of whom the Count Palatine was the chief.

2. A knight renowned for heroism and chivalry.

 

Example:

"There as few knights as noble and pure as the paladin Sir Galahad."

"The paladins pledged to uphold a strict code of honor."

 

About Paladin

This word developed from a trifecta of romance languages. The Latin word "palatinus" (officer of the palace) developed into the Italian word "paladino," and eventually evolved into the French term we still use today, "paladin."

 

Did You Know?

Paladins feature heavily in the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. These knights are expected to adhere to a particularly strict code of conduct of doing good. If you find yourself rolling the dice for your paladin to make a choice, know that it will be a Lawful Good one — no thievery or trickery here.

 

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What's the Word? - COSMOPOLIS

pronunciation: [kahz-MAHP-ə-ləs]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Greek, mid 19th century

 

Meaning

1. A city inhabited by people from many different countries.

 

Example:

"When it comes to the nickname "Capital of the World," no cosmopolis is more deserving than London."

"In a comic book cosmopolis, the population may include humans and alien life."

 

About Cosmopolis

This noun originated from the combination of the Greek words "kosmos" (world) + "polis" (city), creating "cosmopolis" (city of the world). A cosmopolis is a city that represents people from many different countries, meaning that it is a city that represents a sample of the "kosmos."

 

Did You Know?

If you're looking for a true cosmopolis, look no further than New York City. Home to around 8.6 million people, New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world; citizens and residents speak around 800 different languages. If you want to pinpoint the most diverse borough, Queens is your best bet.

 

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What's the Word? - FEY

pronunciation: [fei]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Middle English, 9th century

 

Meaning

1. Giving an impression of vague unworldliness.

2. Having supernatural powers of clairvoyance.

 

Example:

"The meadow looked almost fey in the moonlight."

"Yul's fey abilities allowed him to see flashes of the future."

 

About Fey

While fey comes from the Middle English word "fǣge" (fated to die soon), it has Germanic origins, specifically developing from the word "feige" (cowardly).

 

Did You Know?

The word fey is often used as another term for fairies — mythical and magical beings found in European folk mythology. While modern takes on fairies usually describe them as benevolent (if a bit mischievous), people of the Old World had all sorts of wards to keep fairies away, including iron, church bells, four leaf clovers, and even wearing clothing inside out.

 

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What's the Word? - EPERGNE

pronunciation: [ə-PERN]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: French, early 18th century

 

Meaning

1. An ornamental centerpiece for a dining table, typically used for holding fruit or flowers.

 

Example:

"You can find a traditional epergne of apples, oranges, and bananas on my grandmother's dining table."

"I purchased a bouquet of daisies to place in the epergne."

 

About Epergne

Epergne is thought to have originated from the French word "épargne" (saving, economy).

 

Did You Know?

We can thank ancient Rome and Greece for the tradition of an epergne on the dining table. Centerpieces used local plants and animals to reflect seasons and themes. It dropped out of style in the English Middle Ages when diners preferred to focus on the most important part of the table — the food — but the epergne returned to fashion with a flourish in the 17th century under French influence.

 

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What's the Word? - GALLINACEOUS

pronunciation: [gal-ə-NAY-shəs]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, late 18th century

 

Meaning

1. Relating to birds of an order (Galliformes) which includes domestic poultry and game birds.

 

Example:

"The farm was home to a number of gallinaceous birds, including chickens, turkeys, and pheasants."

"Ducks are not gallinaceous — they are considered waterfowl."

 

About Gallinaceous

While the word gallinaceous is used to describe a specific class of domesticated fowl, which includes turkeys and quail, it finds its origins in Latin words for chicken, such as "gallina" (hen), "gallus" (cockerel), and the broad term "gallinaceus."

 

Did You Know?

People might not think much of chickens, but chickens think a lot about them. According to scientific studies, these gallinaceous birds can recognize over a hundred individual faces, engage in complex communication, and even dream.

 

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What's the Word? - BILLET-DOUX

pronunciation: [bill-ay-DOO]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: French, late 17th century

 

Meaning

1. A love letter.

 

Example:

"I saved every billets-doux I exchanged with my college girlfriend."

"She left only a box of billets-doux from an unknown beau."

 

About Billet-Doux

Billet-doux developed in French, and translates simply to "sweet note." If you've ever slipped a crush a love letter, then you were handing them a billet-doux.

 

Did You Know?

Love letters are not just for plot twists in Regency dramas — they also have their place in the White House. Several U.S. Presidents were known for penning billets-doux to their wives and significant others, including John Adams, Woodrow Wilson, and Ronald Reagan.

 

Side Note:  It could also be pronounced [be-yay-doo]. It sounds more French and the L's are strung together not sounded out like [BILL].

 

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What's the Word? - STOCHASTIC

pronunciation: [stə-KAS-tik]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Greek, mid 17th century

 

Meaning

1. Randomly determined; having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.

 

Example:

"I painted stars on my ceiling in a stochastic pattern."

"Matthew excelled at statistics, especially when he could analyze stochastic patterns."

 

About Stochastic

This adjective originated from the Greek words "stokhastikos" and "stokhazesthai," which both mean to "aim at, guess." They evolved in turn from the word "stokhos" (aim).

 

Did You Know?

Have you ever wondered how poll numbers and surveys displayed on the news are collected? Statisticians collect and analyze stochastic data so that ordinary people can understand the facts and figures that make up daily life. For example — did you know that one-third of American adults still sleep with a comfort object? If you did, thank a statistician.

 

 

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What's the Word? - TRANSMOGRIFY

pronunciation: [trans-MAH-ɡrə-fai]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: Unknown, mid 17th century

 

Meaning

1. Transform in a surprising or magical manner.

 

Example:

"The fairy godmother plans to transmogrify Cinderella from peasant to princess."

"Cecilia wished for the fairies to transmogrify her car into a Ferrari."

 

About Transmogrify

While researchers place the origins of this word somewhere in the mid 17th century, how "transmogrify" evolved is a bit of a mystery. It could possibly have developed from the Latin verb "transformare" (to change form), the same root found in the word "transform."

 

Did You Know?

While change is an inevitable part of our lives, it can be scary. If you're having trouble dealing with the things that have been recently transmogrified in your life, scientists suggest retaining some of your familiar routines until you adjust.

 

 

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What's the Word? - HINTERLAND

pronunciation: [HINT-ər-land]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: German, late 19th century

 

Meaning

1. The often uncharted areas beyond a coastal district or a river's banks.

2. An area lying beyond what is visible or known.

 

Example:

"The merchants from the hinterland brought fascinating new products to the fishing village."

"The dog's ball landed somewhere in the woods' hinterlands."

 

About Hinterland

Hinterland originated in German from a combination of the words "hinter" (behind) and "land."

 

Did You Know?

Hinterland was first featured in the 1888 book "Handbook of Commercial Geography," and was used to describe the country beyond a coastal town or settlement. Eventually, the term evolved throughout the 20th century to describe areas considered largely unsettled, as well as directional areas.

 

 

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What's the Word? - PUKKA

pronunciation: [PUH-kuh]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Hindi, late 17th century

 

Meaning

1. (British informal) Genuine.

2. Of or appropriate to high or respectable society.

 

Example:

"The clerk bit down on the gold coin to make sure it was pukka."

"The restaurant was very pukka, from the expensive suits worn by the staff down to the tiny snail forks."

 

About Pukka

Pukka developed from the Hindi and Urdu word "pakka." "Pakka" means "cooked, ripe, or substantial," but can also mean "solid" — which is likely how, over time, it came to mean "genuine."

 

Did You Know?

While pukka is now regarded as casual British slang, the word originated in the languages Hindi and Urdu. The word "pakka" meant "solid," and its use slowly evolved towards something being genuine or honest. An American example would be our use of the phrase, "the real McCoy."

 

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What's the Word? - CHINWAG

pronunciation: [CHIN-wag]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: British English, late 19th century

 

Meaning

1. A chat.

 

Example:

"I love having a chinwag with my friends and catching up on all the latest gossip."

"Ursula looked forward to her weekly chinwag with the baker."

 

About Chinwag

The word chinwag was made from the combination of "chin" + "wag," which is likely a humorous way of describing the movement your chin makes when you're having a vigorous chat.

 

Did You Know?

Why is it so satisfying to have a good chinwag? Contrary to beliefs about gossiping, the practice might not be as negative as it seems. In fact, evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar argues that gossiping developed as a way to disseminate important information amongst a social network.

 

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What's the Word? - APOSEMATIC

pronunciation: [ap-ə-sə-MAD-ik]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Greek, late 19th century

 

Meaning

1. (of coloration or markings) serving to warn or repel predators.

2. (of an animal) having aposematic coloration or markings.

 

Example:

"Poison dart frogs have bright aposematic designs to warn potential predators that they are venomous."

"Monarch butterfly caterpillars are poisonous, which is why they have aposematic coloring."

 

About Aposematic

Aposematic finds its origins in Greek — specifically, a combination of the Greek words "apo" (away from) and "sēma" (sign). Even the roots of this word are warning you to stay back.

 

Did You Know?

“Red touches yellow, deadly fellow; red touches black, you're all right Jack." This phrase was coined to describe the difference between the deadly coral snake and the king snake. The latter reptile is nonvenomous; instead, it has an aposematic pattern meant to fool predators into believing it is a coral snake. Remembering the rhyme may just help you avoid a deadly bite — or avoid disturbing an innocent snake.

 

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What's the Word? -LABILE

pronunciation: [LAY-bihl]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Late Middle English, unknown

 

Meaning

1. (technical) Liable to change; easily altered

2. Of or characterized by emotions that are easily aroused or freely expressed, and that tend to alter quickly and spontaneously; emotionally unstable.

 

Example:

"My roommates are very labile when it comes to plans."

"As a doctor, Louie was very familiar with patients becoming emotionally labile when they weren't feeling well."

 

About Labile

Labile developed in Middle English, but its roots are found in the Latin words "labilis" and "labi" (to fall).

 

Did You Know?

“Red touches yellow, deadly fellow; red touches black, you're all right Jack." This phrase was coined to describe the difference between the deadly coral snake and the king snake. The latter reptile is nonvenomous; instead, it has an aposematic pattern meant to fool predators into believing it is a coral snake. Remembering the rhyme may just help you avoid a deadly bite While we should aim for stability in most aspects of daily life, some things are just labile in nature — such as the stock market, blood pressure, and body temperature.— or avoid disturbing an innocent snake.

 

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What's the Word? -FORSOOTH

pronunciation: [fer-SOOTH]

 

Part of speech: adverb

Origin: Old English, unknown

 

Meaning

1. Indeed (often used ironically or to express surprise or indignation)

 

Example:

"Forsooth, I believed you were telling the truth from the beginning."

"Kayla noticed that, forsooth, he was still studying for the test."

 

About Forsooth

This word developed from the Old English word "forsoth," which likely comes from a combination of the words "for" and "sooth" (truth).

 

Did You Know?

When used in Old English, forsooth meant "in truth" or "indeed," however, the term has since developed into an exclamation of disbelief. You're now more likely to find this word used more satirically than seriously.

 

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What's the Word? - HEW

pronunciation: [hyoo]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: Old English, unknown

 

Meaning

1. Chop or cut (something, especially wood or coal) with an axe, pick, or other tool.

2. Make or shape (something) by cutting or chopping a material such as wood or stone.

 

Example:

"Michael was expected to hew the lumber into firewood by that evening."

"Stone artists are skilled at hewing a marble slab into dramatic figures."

 

About Hew

While hew developed from the English word "hēawan," it finds its origins in German (houwen) and Dutch (hauen). Each of these words refers to the act of chopping, cutting, and shaping wood and other hard materials.

 

Did You Know?

Totem poles, traditional sculptures made by Indigeneous people of the northern United States and Canada, are used to denote territory and represent historical events. Totems are hewn from cedar trees, and take around six to nine months to complete.

 

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