Sunday, December 30th
It Takes Two Word of the Day:
Today's word, a noun of Latin origin, began as a noun referring to the quality of being pleasing. Today it mainly names a feature or service that provides comfort and pleasure. A single amenity rarely suffices, for we tend to talk about them in the plural -- often in connection with the ones available in a particular place.
Monday, December 31st
Charm Offensive Word of the Day:
Those who consider themselves to be God's gift and who are also highly influential or effective might be on to something: charisma, a word from Greek, is from a verb that means "favor" and was often used of those thought to be favored by the Gods. We use charisma today to designate a quality of leaders that makes people want to follow them.
Tuesday, January 1st
Go With the Flow Word of the Day:
2013 is the International Year of Water Cooperation (so says the UN) and we're doing our part by promoting aqueous, an adjective based on the Latin word for water that means "of or containing water." Hydrous, the Greek-based companion of aqueous, has an almost equal claim to celebration; its range of usage is narrower and more technical than that of aqueous.
Wednesday, January 2nd
Keep It Simple Word of the Day:
Two hundred years ago today saw the beginning of a trial in England that resulted in the execution or transportation of many men who are remembered today as Luddites. Their crime was industrial sabotage — specifically, destroying machines that threatened to make their skills obsolete. Luddite is used today to characterize someone who resists technological change.
Thursday, January 3rd
Pilgrim's Progress Word of the Day:
English has a handful of words that designate horse velocities and among them, canter probably has the most interesting history. It's a shortening of Canterbury, which originally designated the pace at which pilgrims bound for Canterbury traveled: a three-beat gait between a trot and a gallop.
Friday, January 4th
Pants On Fire Word of the Day:
Lying is a very direct and strong word to characterize someone given to truth avoidance. You may want to enlist mendacious to hit the same target from a slightly oblique angle, owing to the fact the mendacious is somewhat formal and infrequent. Its root is Latin mendax, "lying," which turns up in the related noun mendacity and also has less direct descendents in emend and amend.
Saturday, January 5th
Throwaway Word of the Day:
Most folks today are quite a bit further removed from the source of their food than their ancestors were so a word like chaff (the throwaway covering of cereal grains) is better known today in its figurative than its literal sense. Chaff is mostly found today in co-occurrence with wheat in expressions like "separate the wheat from the chaff."