Visual Thesaurus Word of the Day
Sunday, December 31st maudlin You Would Cry Too Word of the Day:
How many adjectives does a language need for "insincerely emotional"? If that language is English, lots, judging by the wordmap of maudlin. The history of maudlin is more interesting than that of most of its synonyms: maudlin is an alteration of the Biblical name Magdalene. Its meaning arose from depictions of Mary Magdalene as a weeping penitent.
Monday, January 1st indignant Most Unworthy Word of the Day:
The obvious obverse of this adjective, "dignant," never found a home in English, but indignant still has quite a lot family scattered about, in word such as dignify, deign, and condign. Its meaning, "angered by injustice," arises from the meaning of its Latin root dignus, "worthy."
Tuesday, January 2nd commodity What's the Use? Word of the Day:
The English relatives of commodity all bear a passing resemblance to it — accommodate, commode, commodious — but their meanings seem to be all over the map. There is, however, an element of common meaning, centered around the idea of what is useful: the Latin root commodus, "useful, convenient, suitable," underlies them all. A commodity was originally an economic good; today it indicates one that is widely available and traded.
Wednesday, January 3rd diorama Available for Viewing Word of the Day:
First came the panorama, a late 18th century word so successful that it spawned two others on its pattern: cyclorama, and today's word, diorama. The dio- part is from Greek dia, "through," reflecting the fact that the earliest dioramas were viewed through a hole or opening. The common -orama part is from Greek, horama, "sight." All three words refer to paintings or displays of various kinds.
Thursday, January 4th bogus Not for Real Word of the Day:
The brilliant sound sense of this adjective insures a permanent place for it in English: just hearing the word bogus makes you think "fake." The origins of the word are in fact quite obscure; it was, by various accounts, a slang term for counterfeit money, or for the machine that made it, but where bogus comes from before that is a matter for speculation (and, perhaps, bogus theories).
Friday, January 5th chafe There's the Rub Word of the Day:
If you combine a knowledge of French with a knowledge of physics and a bit of imagination, you might be able to guess the etymology of this verb, which means "make sore by rubbing." Recall that rubbing generates friction; friction causes heat; the French word for heat is chauffer. Et voilĂ !
Saturday, January 6th cataclysm It's a Wash Word of the Day:
Words beginning with cata- are nearly all Greek in origin and contain the idea of "down," which is the case here (from Greek kata-, "down".) Cataclysm now means something akin to calamity, but it originally referred to the Biblical flood, in which it is truer to its origins, which are literally "down washing," or deluge.
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