Sunday, February 1st
Winners Take All Word of the Day:
The sweep in this word came from the original and now obsolete meaning: a sweepstake was one who "sweeps the stakes" -- that is, wins the whole prize in a lottery or contest with multiple contributors. During the 18th century the word (usually in plural form) came to represent any such contest in which all stakes are divided among winners.
Monday, February 2nd
Accounts Receivable Word of the Day:
And you thought today was just Groundhog Day! North of the border (that would be the England/Scotland border) today is better known as one of the quarter days, the four of which divide the year into quarters and on which certain payments were historically due.
Tuesday, February 3rd
It's a Boy! Word of the Day:
Though rarely appearing outside of medical contexts, this adjective pertains to a fairly common thing -- childbirth -- and has two equally technical relatives in English: puerpera (new mother) and puerperium (period after childbirth). Its relation to puerile is courtesy of the Latin root puer, "boy."
Wednesday, February 4th
Shadowy Word of the Day:
This noun denoting a brown pigment or the color that it produces came to English from French or Italian, but the ultimate root is Latin umbra, "shadow," which has other descendants in English: penumbra, umbrella, and adumbrate, to name only a few.
Thursday, February 5th
Don't Try This at Home Word of the Day:
"Artery" probably springs to your mind immediately upon seeing this word, and for good reason: it has almost no other companions. The root is from a Greek verb meaning "stupefy" -- since compression of the carotid artery can lead to a loss of consciousness.
Friday, February 6th
Only for the Erudite Word of the Day:
Wheel this one out only when all other attempts have failed to impress: its synonyms, coeval and contemporaneous are more common ways to denote something of similar age or duration. The OED's citations stop in the 19th century, but these days lofty writers still slip it in from time to time.
Saturday, February 7th
Forked Tongue Word of the Day:
The pre- part of this Latinate verb meaning "deviate from strict truth" can throw you off since we have no "varicate." The Latin original meant "act in collusion," or literally, "straddle." Its only relative in modern English is the rather obscure divaricate, "branch off."