Sunday, December 24th
Along for the Ride Word of the Day:
Accessory is hardly a word that needs dressing up, but if you want to add just a spot of formality or irony to it, appurtenance does the job pretty well. Appertain is the most closely-related verb, and from there the meaning pretty much leaps out: an accessory object that pertains to a particular activity.
Monday, December 25th
Share the Memory Word of the Day:
This verb shares enough common ground with its synonym memorialize, and with their common relative memory, that its meaning is not difficult to commit to memory. What may pose a greater problem is remembering that the double m precedes the single m — until you remember that the first m is from the assimilated prefix con, "together."
Tuesday, December 26th
Not At All Exceptional Word of the Day:
If the meaning of this adjective doesn't leap out at you, remember that it's associated with the construction "take exception to something." That's the kind of exception that exceptionable refers to, and that makes it a synonym of objectionable. The usage of exceptionable these days is pretty much confined to legalese, except the handful of hits you can find in a news search every day by hacks who use it as an elegant variation for "exceptional."
Wednesday, December 27th
All Airy-Fairy Word of the Day:
The key to the kingdom of meaning for this adjective is the sequence -corp-, found also in related words corporation, corpse, corporal, and corpuscle. All hark back to Latin corpus, "body." The in- prefix here is negativizing; incorporeal means "lacking a body," or in other words, "immaterial."
Thursday, December 28th
Some Like It Hot Word of the Day:
You may wonder why we have this adjective fervent when fervid, from the same root, exists, and means about the same thing. Blame the highly inflected forms of Latin if you must. In fact fervent (meaning "passionate") wins out over its near synonym in usage numbers. Supporter is the most winning noun after fervent, closely followed by hope, prayer, wish, and believer.
Friday, December 29th
Hidden Treasure Word of the Day:
The original meaning of this verb was "place into the public treasury," whence it developed the more general meaning it enjoys today, "seize by authority." The nearest (and for practical purposes, only) relative in English of confiscate is fiscal; both are the descendants of Latin fiscus, "treasury."
Saturday, December 30th
Teeth-Baring Word of the Day:
There are perhaps not as many kinds of smiles as kinds of snow that the Eskimos are reputed to distinguish, but there are a fair number, and a smirk is one of them; a smile that expresses smugness or scorn. The consonant pairs in smirk suggest a word native to English, and so it is — descended from an Old English word that means "smile."