Sunday, January 6th
Truly Awful Word of the Day:
When you need a somewhat elegant way of designating something really repugnant, today's adjective is a prudent choice. Odious is from Latin odium, "hatred." Its most frequent companion is comparison, and writers are fond of modifying it with particularly. The verb annoy is a distant cousin of odious.
Monday, January 7th
Cellar-Dwelling Word of the Day:
Today's word, a noun and adjective, consists of two parts that seem to be reinforcing the same idea: second place. The sub part means "under, inferior, below," and the altern part is related to alter and alternative, meaning "other." It designates an officer of lower rank, but also maintains its original meaning, a particular proposition in logic paired with a more general one.
Tuesday, January 8th
Take a Leap Word of the Day:
Today's adjective is used to characterize things that are noticeably significant. The meaning of salient is true to its origins, a Latin verb meaning "leap." Something that is salient leaps out, in a figurative way. Salient has a few cousins in English, the most salient of which are assail, salacious, and sally.
Wednesday, January 9th
Featureless Word of the Day:
The main association with today's adjective is more psychological than climatic, but it wasn't always so; earlier bleak mainly designated places that were bare of vegetation. From this meaning developed the more common one today, featureless, without interest, dreary. Bleak has a somewhat complicated history but it is probably related to an Old English word that also spawned bleach via a different route.
Thursday, January 10th
Down Under Word of the Day:
On this day 150 years ago the first section of the system that is today called the London Underground was opened. Given its locale, the word underground, with solid English credentials, is a good designation for it, but if Latin lovers had prevailed it might as well have been called the London Subterranean, a word with the same meaning.
Friday, January 11th
Food for Thought Word of the Day:
Today's word was a noun before it was a verb, with a gap of about a century. If you eat forage you are probably a quadruped, but if you forage you may have any number of legs, because the verb has more general use than the noun: 'search for food' as opposed to 'food for grazing animals.' Forage came to English from French but is Germanic in origin and related to fodder.
Saturday, January 12th
Work Like a Trojan Word of the Day:
If you aspire fame through eponymous reference it is probably with some idea of the greatness of your work. It didn't work out that way for Pandarus, a Trojan who is regarded as the prototype of the pimp for his procurement of Cressida for Troilus. From this noun use developed today's sense of the verb pander, to cater basely to someone.