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New Game: What's the Word?

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What's the Word? - YEN

pronunciation: [yen]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Chinese, late 19th century

 

Meaning

1. A longing or yearning.

2. The basic monetary unit of Japan.

 

Example:

"Nathan always had a yen for an ice-cream sundae after a concert."

"He spent most of his yen on souvenirs before the group even reached the hot springs."

 

About Yen

This word is thought to have originated from the Chinese word “yǎn” (craving). There is a chance that this term was also influenced by the word “yān” (opium), as it describes something that induces an intense yearning or longing feeling.

 

Did You Know?

Yen isn’t just a noun describing a longing or yearning feeling — it is also a noun that describes Japan’s currency. While other countries have names for different categories of their currency — such as the United States’ dollars, quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies — Japanese currency is called yen whether it is paper money or a coin. Yen can appear as bills or as coins, and are differentiated from each other by variations in shape, color, and value.

 

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What's the Word? - PROFUNDITY

pronunciation: [prə-FUN-də-dee]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Late Middle English, late 14th century

 

Meaning

1. Deep insight; great depth of knowledge or thought.

2. Great depth or intensity of a state, quality, or emotion.

 

Example:

"Critics praised the artist’s second album for the profundity of the lyrics."

"Even astronomers get swept up by the profundity of space."

 

About Profundity

This word originally meant “the bottom of the sea,” used to describe vastness and depth before its meaning shifted to include the definition “depth of intellect, feeling, or spiritual mystery” in the 15th century. It is thought to have developed twofold from the Old French word “profundite,” and the Latin words “profunditatem” (depth, intensity, immensity) and “profundus” (deep, vast).

 

Did You Know?

While profundity can refer to deep insight or a great depth of knowledge, it can also be used to describe the sheer state of something profound or difficult to understand. Many people experience a state of profundity when trying to understand the breadth of the ocean or the vastness of space.

 

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What's the Word? - TEMPORIZE

pronunciation: [TEM-pə-riyz]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: French, late 16th century

 

Meaning

1. Avoid making a decision or committing oneself in order to gain time.

2. Temporarily adopt a particular course in order to conform to the circumstances.

 

Example:

"The council intended to temporize the vote until the final member could arrive."

"Kyra decided to temporize her roommate’s walking pace to continue the conversation."

 

About Temporize

The word temporize developed from the French word “temporiser” (to bide one’s time), the medieval Latin word “temporizare” (to delay), and the Latin word “tempus” (time).

 

Did You Know?

Many are already familiar with temporize (to avoid making a decision to gain time) by another name: procrastination. Procrastination is delaying or postponing an action to a later time, and is a problem that everyone, whether a student or a working adult, faces at some point. Advice to avoid procrastination varies from breaking work into smaller tasks, to finishing high-priority tasks when they are first received, and completing a task during a set amount of time.

 

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What's the Word? - HARBINGER

pronunciation: [HAR-bən-jər]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Late Middle English, 1100s

 

Meaning

1. A person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another.

2. A forerunner of something.

 

Example:

"Robins are often considered the harbingers of spring."

"Those first three chords were the harbinger of a chart-topping album."

 

About Harbinger

This word made its way into Late Middle English by way of the Old French words “herbergier” (provide lodging for) and “herberge” (lodging). However, its true origins lie in Old Saxon, particularly the combination of the German word “heri” (army) + a word for a fortified base to create the word “heriberga” (shelter for an army, lodging).

 

Did You Know?

Harbingers are often associated with doom or assumed to be bad omens, especially when related to supernatural phenomena. However, harbingers are simply people or things that announce or signal the approach of another, whether that approach is good or bad. A famous example is Paul Revere and other American riders who completed a twelve-mile midnight ride to warn founding fathers John Hancock and Patrick Henry that the British army was heading their way. Thanks to Revere and his associates, the fledgling American militia was able to hide their supplies before the British arrived.

 

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What's the Word? - PERVIOUS

pronunciation: [PER-vee-əs]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, early 17th century

 

Meaning

1. (of a substance) allowing water to pass through; permeable.

 

Example:

"Despite extensive repairs, the boat’s hull was still pervious in choppier waves."

"Rather than have his driveway paved, David decided to use a pervious layer of gravel."

 

About Harbinger

This word originated from the Latin word “pervius,” which means “having a passage through.”

 

Did You Know?

Pervious membranes are crucial to most organic, living things — humans would not exist without the permeable cells that make up our systems. However, these cells are still extremely picky about what enters and leaves at any given time. The cell membrane is selectively pervious, which means that it regulates which materials and substances are allowed to enter and leave with water and other bodily fluids.

 

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What's the Word? - EFFACE

pronunciation: [ə-FAYS]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: French, late 15th century

 

Meaning

1. Erase (a mark) from a surface.

2. (efface oneself) Make oneself appear insignificant or inconspicuous.

 

Example:

"The babysitter was relieved to find that the spilled juice was easy to efface from the carpet."

"Once Julia ceased trying to efface herself in front of the other contestants, she truly began to shine."

 

About Harbinger

This word developed from the French word “effacer,” made of a combination of the Latin word “ex” (away from) + face.

 

Did You Know?

Many people are familiar with the opposite of the word “efface” — the verb “deface,” the act of spoiling the surface or appearance of something by drawing or writing on it. For a long period of time, graffiti (painted images and words on surfaces in urban landscapes) was thought to deface buildings, bridges, and other urban landmarks. While graffiti is still illegal to apply to both public and private buildings, it is also recognized as an art form; approved graffiti and commissioned murals are now popularly used to efface unapproved graffiti, and even become landmarks and tourist attractions on their own.

 

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What's the Word? - OSCULATE

pronunciation: [AHS-kyoo-leyt]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: Latin, mid 17th century

 

Meaning

1. (formal or humorous) kiss.

 

Example:

"The ocean and sky were so blue that it was difficult to discern where they osculated on the horizon."

"Many cultures greet each other by osculating their companions’ cheeks."

 

About Osculate

This word originated from the Latin word “osculat” (kissed), which was derived from the verb “osculari” and the word “osculum” (little mouth or kiss).

 

Did You Know?

While a romantic kiss between the happily married couple is often considered the highlight of a wedding ceremony, Ancient Romans viewed the practice very differently. Ancient Roman couples would osculate as a symbol of their mutual agreement to the marriage. Since literacy was not as widespread during this time, historians speculate that this was a way of sealing an agreement — and that this action is likely what led to the development of the phrase “sealed with a kiss.”

 

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What's the Word? - ZONK

pronunciation: [zoNGk]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: of imitative/echoic origin, mid-20th century

 

Meaning

1. Fall or cause to fall suddenly and heavily asleep or lose consciousness

2. Hit or strike.

 

Example:

"Nothing makes me zonk out quite as quickly as NyQuil."

"The bowl zonked Cheryl when she tried to grab it from the top shelf."

 

About Zonk

Zonk is a slang, onomatopoeic term from the mid-20th century with unknown origin.

 

Did You Know?

Zonk has its own unofficial meaning within the Army. A commanding officer will usually use it during physical training formations as a fun way to dismiss his or her unit from duty. Once the word is shouted out, the entire unit can run off while shouting with glee.

 

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What's the Word? - FRUITION

pronunciation: [froo-ISH-ən]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Old French and Latin, early 15th century

 

Meaning

1. The point at which a plan or project is realized

2. The state or action of producing fruit

 

Example:

"Everything started falling into place as her plan came to fruition."

"The chemist’s lab research came to fruition."

 

About Fruition

Fruition originates from the Latin verb frui, meaning “to enjoy.”

 

Did You Know?

Even though “fruition” and “fruit” both come from the Latin verb frui, they were developed independent of each other. In fact, when “fruition” was first used in the 1400s, it simply meant “pleasurable use or possession.” It wasn’t until the 1800s that the word developed its modern-day definition: “the state of bearing fruit.” This newer definition might be a simple case of mistaken etymology; regardless, the meaning has clearly expanded into metaphorical language.

 

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What's the Word? - CADUCOUS

pronunciation: [kə-DYOO-kəs]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, late 17th century

 

Meaning

1. (of an organ or part) easily detached and shed at an early stage

 

Example:

"The protective layer of a poppy can be caducous, falling off to reveal the bright petals."

"Jane slid the bulky fur coat off her body in a caducous manner."

 

About Caducous

Caducous is a botany term that derives from the Latin caducus, meaning “liable to fall,” and -ous, meaning “characterized by.”

 

Did You Know?

It would be easy to think that “caducous” and “deciduous” are synonyms because they both refer to plants shedding parts of themselves. But a closer look at their definitions proves otherwise. Caducous refers to something on a plant or creature that is easily shed at an early stage of development; deciduous describes a tree or shrub that sheds its leaves annually.

 

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What's the Word? - RURITANIAN

pronunciation: [rə-rə-TAY-nyən]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, Late 1890s

 

Meaning

1. Relating to or characteristic of the imaginary kingdom of Ruritania from the novels of Anthony Hope, especially with reference to romantic adventure and intrigue

 

Example:

"David planned a Ruritanian trip to several exotic locales."

"My daydreams can become quite Ruritanian."

 

About Ruritanian

Ruritanian hails from Latin rus, meaning "rural," and the Latinate ending -itania. British author Anthony Hope helped create the term in one of his novels.

 

Did You Know?

British author Anthony Hope published his mythical novel, The Prisoner of Zenda, in 1894. It quickly grew in popularity, capturing readers’ imaginations with its sense of adventure, courtly romances, heroes, and sword fights. Shortly after the book’s release, George Bernard Shaw used the story’s fictional locale, Ruritania, as an adjective when he said, “Our common sense ... must immediately put a summary stop to the somewhat silly Ruritanian gambols of our imagination.” It's an obscure term for fanciful places and attitudes, but perhaps it deserves to be brought back?

 

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What's the Word? - PIED

pronunciation: [pihyd]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin and Middle English, 14th century

 

Meaning

1. Having two or more different colors

 

Example:

"The horse had a pied coat even though his mother’s coat was a solid brown."

"The pied scarf contained all the colors of the rainbow."

 

About Pied

Pied is a Middle English term that combines the Latin pica with the Old English suffix -ede, used to turn nouns into adjectives.

 

Did You Know?

The notion of the “pied piper” comes from a legend called “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” In it, a piper wearing a multicolored (pied) coat comes to the German town of Hamelin because he has been hired to lure the overflowing rat population away with the music from his magical pipe. When the citizens refuse to pay his fee, he strikes back by luring the town’s children away with his pipe. Various iterations of this tale appeared in the writings of The Brothers Grimm and Robert Browning.

 

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