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What's the Word? - SINOLOGY

pronunciation: [sy-NAL-ə-jee]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Unknown place of origin, mid-19th century

 

Meaning

1. The study of Chinese language, history, customs, and politics.

 

Example:

"After her trip to Beijing, Svetlana cultivated a fascination with sinology."

"Jeremy did some research on sinology to better understand his girlfriend’s Chinese heritage."

 

About Sinology

“Sin-” is a word-forming element meaning “Chinese” from the late Latin “Sinæ” (plural) “the Chinese,” from Ptolemaic Greek “Sinai,” from Arabic “Sin,” meaning “China.” “-Logy” is a word-forming element meaning “a speaking, discourse, treatise, doctrine, theory, science” from the Greek “-logia.”

 

Did You Know?

Even though sinology refers to the study of China, it is often linked to scholarship that comes from the West. Surprisingly, the French were some of the first to set up sinological academic disciplines within its prestigious academic institutions.

 

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What's the Word? - GUFFAW

pronunciation: [ɡə-FAW]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Scottish, early 18th century

 

Meaning

1. A loud and boisterous laugh.

 

Example:

"Kevin let out a loud, spontaneous guffaw."

"The comedian let out a guffaw at his own joke."

 

About Guffaw

This word originated in Scotland and was likely imitative of the sound of coarse laughter.

 

Did You Know?

“Guffaw” can also be used as an intransitive verb. For instance, “The group guffawed loudly.” Or “When she guffaws, it always makes him smile.”

 

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What's the Word? - SEDULOUS

pronunciation: [SEH-jəl-əs]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, mid 16th century

 

Meaning

1. (Of a person or action) showing dedication and diligence.

 

Example:

"Marnie’s sedulous nature was a good fit for medical research."

"Because Jeremy is sedulous, he caught the mistake right away."

 

About Sedulous

This word stems from the Latin “sedulus,” meaning “zealous.”

 

Did You Know?

Even though the word “sedulous” offers a positive connotation of widely cherished values in society, it’s not a commonly used word. Words like “diligent” are used much more frequently to describe hardworking, dedicated individuals.

 

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What's the Word? - TONIC

pronunciation: [TAH-nik]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: French, mid 17th century

 

Meaning

1. Something with an invigorating effect.

2. The first note in a scale which, in conventional harmony, provides the keynote of a piece of music.

 

Example:

"Layla knew she needed to drink the tonic even though it tasted bitter."

"The tonic in his original composition was a very high note."

 

About Tonic

This word comes from the French “tonique” by way of the Greek “tonikos,” meaning “of or for stretching.”

 

Did You Know?

“Tonic” can also be used as an adjective in several different ways. In phonetics, a tonic is “denoting or relating to the syllable within a tone group that has greatest prominence, because it carries the main change of pitch.” And in physiology, it means “relating to, denoting, or producing continuous muscular contraction.”

 

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What's the Word? - PRESCIENT

pronunciation: [PRESH-ənt]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, early 17th century

 

Meaning

1. Having or showing knowledge of events before they take place:

 

Example:

"The psychic gave a prescient warning of things to come."

"No one understood how prescient the press statement was until a few days later."

 

About Prescient

This word comes from the Latin “praescient-,” meaning “knowing beforehand.” This stems from the verb “praescire” — “prae” meaning “before” and “scire” meaning “know.”

 

Did You Know?

Jeane Dixon, a self-proclaimed psychic, was admired by many for her supposed prescience. She reportedly predicted John F. Kennedy’s assassination, that one pope would be harmed, and another would be assassinated during the twentieth century, among other predictions. Richard Nixon followed her predictions via his secretary, and Dixon was one of several astrologers Nancy Reagan consulted. However, Temple University mathematician John Allen Paulos coined “the Jeane Dixon effect,” which outlines a penchant for highlighting a few correct predictions while ignoring a larger amount of incorrect ones.

 

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What's the Word? - EUREKA

pronunciation: [yoo-REE-kə]

 

Part of speech: exclamation

Origin: Greek, early 17th century

 

Meaning: 

1. A cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something.

2. Marked by usually sudden triumphant discovery.

 

Example:

"When Seth solved the complicated problem, he cried out “Eureka!”"

"Maria had a eureka moment that made the rest of her day much easier."

 

About Eureka

This word comes from the Greek “heurēka,” meaning “I have found it,” originally from “heuriskein,” or “find.” Legend has it that Archimedes said this when he discovered a method of determining the purity of gold.

 

Did You Know?

Eureka is also a port city located on northern California’s Humboldt Bay. The area was settled in the 1850s to provide a convenient alternative route to supply miners on the network of rivers where gold was discovered during the Gold Rush. “Eureka” (which originally translated to "I have found it!") is also the California state motto.

 

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What's the Word? - IMMANENT

pronunciation: [IM-ən-ənt]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, mid 16th century

 

Meaning

1. Existing or operating within; inherent.

2. (Of God) permanently pervading and sustaining the universe.

 

Example:

"The role of government is immanent in the Constitution."

"Teri’s research paper discussed whether altruism is an immanent trait or a learned one."

 

About Immanent

This word stems from the late Latin “immanent,” meaning “remaining within.” Comes from “in-” + “manere,” meaning “remain.”

 

Did You Know?

”Immanent” is easily confused with “imminent” and “eminent” since they all sound quite similar. However, “imminent” refers to something happening soon, while “eminent” describes something that stands out prominently. “Immanent” is an adjective for an inherent quality.

 

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What's the Word? - SCUMBLE

pronunciation: [SKUM-bəl]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: Unknown location, late 17th century

 

Meaning

1. [With object] modify (a painting or color) by applying a very thin coat of opaque paint to give a softer or duller effect.

2. Modify (a drawing) with light shading in pencil or charcoal to give a softer effect.

 

Example:

"Today’s online art lesson will teach students how to scumble."

"Pablo decided to scumble the sharp lines in his painting."

 

About Scumble

Even though the word’s specific roots are unknown, “scumble” is possibly related to the verb “scum,” an antiquated version of “skim.”

 

Did You Know?

Scumbling became a popular artistic technique during the 15th century. Some art historians believe Renaissance-era painter Titian invented the technique.

 

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What's the Word? - AVIDITY

pronunciation: [ə-VID-ə-dee]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Late Middle English, mid 15th century

 

Meaning

1. Extreme eagerness or enthusiasm.

2. [Biochemistry] the overall strength of binding between an antibody and an antigen.

 

Example:

"The doctor scoured the medical studies on antibody avidity, hoping to find answers."

"Kate binged the Netflix series with an avidity she rarely showed for anything."

 

About Avidity

This word stems from the French “avidité” or directly from the Latin “aviditas,” from “avidus,” meaning “eager, greedy.”

 

Did You Know?

In biochemistry, “affinity” and “avidity” are closely related. “Affinity” is how well a single antibody-antigen site binds, whereas “avidity” refers to the strength of all those interactions collectively. With avidity, binding strength depends on the effects that come from multiple proteins “working together” because it’s easier for one to bind if another is already tethered nearby.

 

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What's the Word? - RIMPLE

pronunciation: [RIM-pl]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: Middle English, date unknown.

 

Meaning

1. To form into small folds or undulations; to wrinkle; especially (of water) to ripple.

 

Example:

"Serena hates it when the bed sheets rimple."

"Some women don’t like taffeta in their formal wear because it is prone to rimpling."

 

About Rimple

This word’s origins are murky, but it possibly stems from Old English’s “hrympel,” meaning “wrinkle” or might be influenced by the Middle Dutch “rumpelen,” related to Old English “hrimpan,” meaning “to fold, wrinkle.”

 

Did You Know?

“Rimple” can also be used as a noun. Example: Troy folded rimples into the paper to create origami.

 

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What's the Word? - GEMUTLICH

pronunciation: [ge-MOOT-lik]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: German, mid 19th century

 

Meaning: 

1. Pleasant and cheerful.

 

Example:

"The dinner party had a gemütlich, easygoing vibe."

"Steven was known for his gemütlich demeanor."

 

About Gemütlich

This word comes from the Middle High German “gemüetlich,” meaning “pleasant.” Originally from “gemüete,” meaning “mentality, mind.”

 

Did You Know?

There is no single word in English that is a direct translation of “gemütlich.” Even though it’s often likened to “cozy,” that one word lacks the elements of belonging and friendliness intrinsic to the term. “Gemütlich” in its German usage is more of an overall aesthetic term.

 

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What's the Word? - BUTTLE

pronunciation: [BUH-dl]

 

Part of speech: verb

Origin: Old French, time period unknown

 

Meaning

1. (humorous) Work as a butler.

 

Example:

"Niles buttled for the whole Sheffield family in the TV show “The Nanny.”"

"It’s not as common to see someone buttle as it was in centuries past."

 

About Buttle

“Buttle” comes from the Old French “boteille” and later the Old French “butiller,” meaning “butler” or “officer in charge of wine.”

 

Did You Know?

There’s no way around it: “buttle” is a funny-sounding word! Since it’s not part of American vernacular, people tend to use it facetiously. But knowing the word “buttle” can really up your game — in Scrabble, it’s worth 8 points, and in Words With Friends, it’s worth 11 points.

 

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What's the Word? - PIA

pronunciation: [PI-ə]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Latin, 14th century

 

Meaning

1. The delicate innermost membrane enveloping the brain and spinal cord.

 

Example:

"The medical residents looked for studies that specifically focused on the pia."

"The pia acts as a protective layer for the nervous system."

 

About Pia

This word stems from medieval Latin. In full, the literal translation is “tender mother,” translating Arabic “al-'umm ar-raḳīḳa.”

 

Did You Know?

The full name of this thin, fibrous membrane is “pia mater.” Even though the pia is a barrier that closely covers the brain, it allows blood vessels to pass through and nourish the brain. It also helps in production of cerebrospinal fluid.

 

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What's the Word? - ANTHESIS

pronunciation: [an-THEE-sis]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Greek, mid 19th century

 

Meaning

1. The flowering period of a plant, from the opening of the flower bud.

 

Example:

"The roses’ anthesis happens in the early spring."

"Spring’s anthesis is really on display when the azalea bushes bloom."

 

About Anthesis

This word stems from the Greek “anthesis,” a noun of action from “antheein,” meaning “to blossom.” That comes from “anthos,” meaning “flower.”

 

Did You Know?

If read quickly, “anthesis” can easily be mistaken for “antithesis,” a person or thing which is the direct opposite of something else. The antithesis of “anthesis” would be when leaves are falling in autumn.

 

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What's the Word? - SELVAGE

pronunciation: [SEL-vij]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Late Middle English, 15th century. (Geological term is from the 1930s.)

 

Meaning

1. An edge produced on woven fabric during manufacture that prevents it from unraveling.

2. (Geology) a zone of altered rock, especially volcanic glass, at the edge of a rock mass.

 

Example:

"The curtain’s selvage was a different color, creating a noticeable border."

"Tom wanted to study how the selvage of obsidian formed."

 

About Selvage

This word hails from late Middle English. It is an alteration of “self” + “edge,” patterned off of the early modern Dutch “selfegghe.”

 

Did You Know?

“Selvage” doesn’t just refer to fabric. For instance, in printing, it means the excess area of a printed or perforated sheet, such as the white border area of a sheet of stamps or the wide margins of an engraving. It can also refer to the clay-like material found along a geological fault.

 

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What's the Word? - ROBORANT

pronunciation: [RO-bər-ənt]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Latin, mid 17th century

 

Meaning

1. A medicine, treatment, etc. that has a strengthening or restorative effect.

 

Example:

"The antibiotic was an immediate roborant for his infection."

"The ointment felt like a short-term roborant."

 

About Roborant

This word comes from the Latin “roborant-,” meaning “strengthening.” It comes from the verb “roborare,” from “robor-” meaning “strength.”

 

Did You Know?

“Roborant” can also be an adjective, meaning “having a strengthening or restorative effect.” For example, “The crux of the surgeon’s roborant treatment was physical therapy.”

 

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What's the Word? - OOLOGY

pronunciation: [oh-AHL-ə-jee]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Greek, 19th century

 

Meaning

1. The study or collecting of birds' eggs.

 

Example:

"The only scientific study Leo seemed interested in was oology."

"Oology can lead to the illegal collection of wild birds’ eggs."

 

About Oology

This word comes from the combination of “oo-,” a Greek word-forming element meaning “egg” and a cognate with Latin’s “ovum.” This is combined with “-logy,” meaning “a speaking, discourse, treatise, theory, science” from the Greek “-logia.”

 

Did You Know?

In the 1960s, British naturalist Derek Ratcliffe compared peregrine falcon eggs from historical collections with more recent egg shells and was able to determine a decline in shell thickness over time. This helped establish the link between the use of pesticides and insecticides, and the declining British populations of birds of prey.

 

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What's the Word? - RIMOSE

pronunciation: [RY-mohs]

 

Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Latin, late 17th century

 

Meaning

1. (Mycology) now especially of a fungus or lichen: cracked, fissured.

 

Example:

"The lichens have a rimose surface."

"The driveway was rimose after the earthquake."

 

About Rimose

This word hails from classical Latin “rīmōsus,” meaning “full of cracks, fissured.” Originally from “rīma,” meaning “cleft, crack, fissure.”

 

Did You Know?

“Rimose” is a word often used to describe crustose lichens, a fungal material that forms a bumpy crust that often ends up being a bright color. Many species use lichens for food, shelter, and nesting material.

 

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What's the Word? - BENISON

pronunciation: [BEN-ə-sən]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Old French, 14th century

 

Meaning

1. A blessing.

 

Example:

"The priest ended every service with a benison."

"Sharon came to see missing her train as a benison in disguise."

 

About Benison

This word hails from the Old French “beneiçun,” originally from Latin “benedictio.”

 

Did You Know?

“Benison” and its synonym, “benediction,” come from the same Latin root, “benedicere.” But “benison” has a longer history in the English language; “benediction” didn’t show up in print until roughly a century later.

 

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What's the Word? - PIEDMONT

pronunciation: [PEED-mahnt]

 

Part of speech: noun

Origin: Italian, mid 19th century

 

Meaning

1. A gentle slope leading from the base of mountains to a region of flat land.

 

Example:

"The area’s piedmont had surprisingly fertile land."

"The piedmont rarely experienced severe flooding."

 

About Piedmont

This word comes from the Italian “piemonte,” meaning “mountain foot.”

 

Did You Know?

When people hear “piedmont,” they tend to think of one of two specific locations: either northwestern Italy at the foot of the Alps, or the hilly highland between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Coast.

 

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