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Cuvantul zilei - Word of the day

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 19, 2017 is:

fervid • \FER-vid\  • adjective

1 : very hot : burning

2 : marked by often extreme intensity of feeling


"Here at the Toronto International Film Festival, there are posters for an upcoming Guillermo del Toro-curated exhibit called 'Influences' that will let you sample the movies and books and music that fed the director's fervid imagination." — David Edelstein, Vulture, 14 Sept. 2017

"The travellers set forth on horseback, and purposed to perform much of their aimless journeyings under the moon, and in the cool of the morning or evening twilight; the midday sun … being still too fervid to allow of noontide exposure." — Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1860

Did you know?

The Latin verb fervēre can mean "to boil" or "to glow," as well as, by extension, "to seethe" or "to be roused." In English, this root gives us three words that can mean "impassioned" by varying degrees: fervid, fervent, and perfervid. Fervid and fervent are practically synonymous, but while fervid usually suggests warm emotion that is expressed in a spontaneous or feverish manner (as in "fervid basketball fans"), fervent is reserved for a kind of emotional warmth that is steady and sincere (as in "a fervent belief in human kindness"). Perfervid combines fervid with the Latin prefix per- ("thoroughly") to create a word meaning "marked by overwrought or exaggerated emotion," as in "a perfervid display of patriotism."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 18, 2017 is:

belaud • \bih-LAWD\  • verb

: to praise usually to excess


"Several cheers went up. Piccard, unaware of the scene unfolding behind him, seemed to think they were meant to belaud his plan." — Jake Silverstein, Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction, 2011

"We believe it was about 1835 that Mr. Dearborn republished the Culprit Fay, which then, as at the period of its original issue, was belauded by the universal American press…." — Edgar Allan Poe, "J. G. C. Brainard" in The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, 1850

Did you know?

You may recognize the word laud (meaning "to praise or extol") in belaud. In fact, belaud was formed by combining the prefix be- and the verb laud. Since be- can denote both "to a greater degree" and "excessively or ostentatiously," it perhaps should come as no surprise that while laud may imply praise to a deserved degree, belaud often has the connotations of unreasonable or undeserved praise. Incidentally, both laud and by extension belaud derive from the Latin verb laudare, which in turn traces back to laud-, meaning "praise." Other descendants of laud- in English include laudatory, laudable, and even laudation, meaning "an act of praising."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 17, 2017 is:

jalousie • \JAL-uh-see\  • noun

1 : a blind with adjustable horizontal slats for admitting light and air while excluding direct sun and rain

2 : a window made of adjustable glass louvers that control ventilation


The rooms of the little bungalow were protected from the brutal tropical heat by wooden jalousies.

"All the old jalousies have been replaced with new windows framed in mahogany, but many interior doors and much of the original hardware have been retained." — Christine Davis, The Palm Beach Daily News, 14 July 2011

Did you know?

Etymologists are clear on the source of the word jalousie—it's French for "jealousy"—but the relationship between the emotion and the window treatments originally referred to as jalousies is not something they've speculated much about. Is it that those peering out through the original jalousie blinds were jealous of the people outside? Or is it more likely that the jealousy festered in the hearts of those outside, who could see the blinds but not the faces and lives of the people they hid? This excerpt from the October 23, 1766 entry in the Duchess of Northumberland's diary perhaps provides a clue: "Rows of Seats with Jalousies in Front that [the women] may not be seen."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 16, 2017 is:

lollygag • \LAH-lee-gag\  • verb

: to spend time idly, aimlessly, or foolishly : dawdle


Owen had a habit of lollygagging in the morning when he was supposed to be getting ready for school, and that meant that he was sometimes late.

"We were spoiled in the heart of summer by daylight that lingered until 10 p.m. We felt no sense of hurry. We could get home from work and still have almost five hours to lollygag away catching walleyes, water-skiing or having picnics on the beach." — Sam Cook, The Duluth (Minnesota) News Tribune, 29 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

You certainly didn't want to be known as a lollygagger at the beginning of the 20th century. Back then, lollygag was slang for "fooling around" (sexually, that is). That sense of lollygag was in use at least as long ago as 1868, and it probably originated as an alteration of the older (and more dawdlingly innocent) lallygag. Nowadays, lollygag doesn't usually carry such naughty connotations, but back in 1946, one Navy captain considered lollygagging enough of a problem to issue this stern warning: "Lovemaking and lollygagging are hereby strictly forbidden.... The holding of hands, osculation and constant embracing of WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service], corpsmen or civilians and sailors or any combination of male and female personnel is a violation of naval discipline...."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 15, 2017 is:

proximity • \prahk-SIM-uh-tee\  • noun

: the quality or state of being proximate : closeness


"[T]he company's main advantages as an exporter include proximity to the U.S. market, quality of production and its ability to alter production to suit the needs and design tastes of U.S. consumers." — Thomas Russell, Furniture Today, 4 Oct. 2017

"Common interests, shared experiences and momentum are the things that bind superficial relationships…, but remove the natural closeness that proximity creates and you find that having once shared a few high school classes is not enough to sustain a lifelong relationship." — Jonathan Look, Forbes, 24 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

The history of proximity hinges on the idea of closeness, both physical and metaphorical. English speakers borrowed the word from Middle French, which in turn acquired it from Latin proximitat-, proximitas, forms of the adjective proximus, meaning "nearest" or "next." A number of other languages, including Catalan, Portuguese, and Italian, derived similar words from Latin proximus. Other descendants of proximus in English include proximal, proximate, and the somewhat more rare approximal (meaning "contiguous").

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 14, 2017 is:

stellar • \STEL-er\  • adjective

1 a : of or relating to the stars : astral

b : composed of stars

2 : of or relating to a theatrical or film star

3 a : principal, leading

b : outstanding


Kelly's stellar academic record should help her gain acceptance to almost any college she wants to attend.

"The carbon-rich asteroid is like a time capsule from more than 4.5 billion years ago when the solar system formed. Scientists hope that the samples that Osiris-Rex collects and brings to Earth in 2023 will contain clues from the earliest history of our stellar neighborhood." — Nicholas St. Fleur, The New York Times, 28 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

Stella, the Latin word for "star," shines brightly in the word constellation, but stella words have been favored by scientists to describe earthly things as much as heavenly bodies. Stellar was once used to mean "star-shaped." That use is no longer current, but today biologists and geologists might use one of these synonyms: stellular, stellate, and stelliform. Poets, too, have looked to stella. John Milton used stellar in its infancy when he wrote in Paradise Lost "these soft fires … shed down their stellar virtue." Stellar shot into its leading role as a synonym of star (as when we say "stellar pupil") in the late 1800s.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 13, 2017 is:

roué • \roo-AY\  • noun

: a man devoted to a life of sensual pleasure : rake


"Hugh Grant, as a roué who seems to realize that his charm is a regrettably cheap commodity, enjoyed something of a comeback in Florence Foster Jenkins." — Tom Gliatto, People, 17 Jan. 2017             

"[Roger Moore's] Bond was a roué, a bounder, a debonair playboy not remotely like a real spy and arguably all the better for it." — Alex Bilmes, Esquire, 25 May 2017

Did you know?

Roué originated as a French word and gained momentum when it began to be used in reference to the libertine companions of Philippe II, France's regent from 1715-1723. Roué means "broken on the wheel" in French and ultimately derives from Latin rota, meaning "wheel." Since the wheel being referred to was an instrument of punishment, the French were implying that such dissolute beings deserved this punishment. By the end of the 18th century, English-speakers added roué to its list of synonyms for a rake, libertine, debaucher, lecher, etc.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 12, 2017 is:

shilly-shally • \SHIL-ee-SHAL-ee\  • verb

1 : to show hesitation or lack of decisiveness or resolution

2 : dawdle


"As for buying Concord grapes at either a farm stand or a supermarket, the rule of thumb is, when you see them, claim them. Don't shilly-shally, because the season for this most coveted of grapes is fleeting." — Heidi Legenbauer Williams, The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, New York), 9 Sept. 2016

"He chaired a meeting this month that called on reluctant officials not to shilly-shally with economic and social reforms…." — The Economist, 18 Feb. 2017

Did you know?

Shall I? Shall I? When you just don't know what to do, it may feel as if asking that question twice will somehow help you decide. The 17th century saw the use of the phrase "stand shall I, shall I" to describe vacillation or indecision. By that century's end, the phrase had been altered to "shill I, shall I," most likely because people just liked the vowel alteration (that's the same process that gave us dillydally and wishy-washy). Soon after, the adverbial shilly-shally made the jump from slang to literature and writers began applying it as an adjective, a noun, and a verb as well.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 11, 2017 is:

doughty • \DOW-tee\  • adjective

: marked by fearless resolution : valiant


Noticing that the cashier shorted him a nickel, the doughty child marched up to the counter and demanded it from her.

"The early lighthouse keepers were a doughty lot, and had to be, insofar as their job wasn't merely to light the wick, but save the occasional ship that foundered…." — Verne Gay, Newsday, 26 May 2010

Did you know?

Doughty is a persevering English word. In Old English, it shows up as dohtig, which was probably an alteration of dyhtig that resulted from the influence of the Old English dohte, meaning "had worth." By the 13th century, the spelling doughty had begun to appear. The expected pronunciation would be \DAW-tee\, paralleling other similarly spelled old words like bought and sought. But over the centuries, the spelling was sometimes confused with that of the now-obsolete word doubty, meaning "full of doubt," and thus, so it is conjectured, we have the pronunciation we use today.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 10, 2017 is:

pathos • \PAY-thahss\  • noun

1 : an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion

2 : an emotion of sympathetic pity


"Clowns have always been represented as tricksters and jokers, from the days of jesters all the way through Ronald McDonald, but the high jinks were always paired with pathos and humanity." — Vulture, 7 Sept. 2017

"The best survival movies are often harrowing; packed with loss and pathos while testing the limits of human endurance." — Mathew DeKinder, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5 Oct. 2017

Did you know?

The Greek word pathos means "suffering," "experience," or "emotion." It was borrowed into English in the 16th century, and for English speakers, the term usually refers to the emotions produced by tragedy or a depiction of tragedy. Pathos has quite a few kin in English. Pathetic is used to describe things that move us to pity. Empathy is the ability to feel the emotions of another. Though pathology is not literally "the study of suffering," it is "the study of diseases." You can probably guess at more relatives of pathos. Sympathy, apathy, antipathy, sociopath, and psychopath are a few.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 9, 2017 is:

cotton • \KAH-tun\  • verb

1 : to take a liking — used with to

2 : to come to understand — used with to or on to


"He was so much fun to have in the company. He had that warm, inviting voice. Audiences just cottoned to him." — Gary Gisselman, quoted in The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), 3 Mar. 2016

"This exhibition—like many of [Jim] Henson's shows—is mainly for adults, concerned with the craft of puppetry and the expansion of broadcast media…. Henson, born in Greenville, Miss., in 1936, had an early gift for landscape drawing, but he cottoned on quickly to the potentials of a new medium—and to the branding opportunities that the medium would allow." — Jason Farago, The New York Times, 21 July 2017

Did you know?

The noun cotton first appears in English in the late Middle Ages. It comes, via Anglo-French and Old Italian, from the Arabic word for cotton, quṭun or quṭn. In the 15th century, cotton acquired a verb use meaning "to form a nap on (cloth)." Though this verb sense is now obsolete, our modern-day use might have spun from it. In 1822, English philologist Robert Nares reported that cotton had been used to mean "to succeed" and speculated that this use came from "the finishing of cloth, which when it cottons, or rises to a regular nap, is nearly or quite complete." The meaning of cotton shifted from "to get on well" to "to get on well together," and eventually to the sense we know today, "to take a liking to." The "understand" sense appeared later, in the early 20th century.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 8, 2017 is:

mandarin • \MAN-drin\  • adjective

1 : of, relating to, or typical of a public official in the Chinese Empire of any of nine superior grades

2 : marked by polished ornate complexity of language


"I don't think there's anything about the novel that doesn't impress me: its stream of satirical invention…; its mandarin prose that perfectly conjures the trancelike drift of a modern consciousness overwhelmed by detail; and its breathtaking risks with structure…." — Alan Moore, quoted in The International New York Times, 10 Sept. 2016

"The good doctor's prose is measured and self-assured, replete with allusions to classical texts. Here is a wonderfully lively, promiscuous mind, unashamed of its erudition. The voice attains a richly spun, mandarin quality; the text comes to have the feeling of so much silk." — Rafael Campo, The Washington Post, 22 Nov. 1998

Did you know?

The Portuguese were the first to refer to a Chinese official as a "mandarin." The word hails from the Portuguese word mandarim, which developed, by way of Malay měntěri, from Sanskrit mantrin, meaning "counselor." Mandarins were promoted by successfully completing the imperial Chinese examination system, which was primarily based on the teachings of Confucian texts. In time, mandarin became a word for a pedantic official, a bureaucrat, or a person of position and influence. The noun passed into the English language in the late 16th century, and the adjective appeared in the early 17th. You may also know Mandarin as a word for the chief dialect of China or be familiar with the mandarin orange (the fruit's name comes from the orange color of a mandarin official's robe).

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 7, 2017 is:

archetype • \AHR-kih-type\  • noun

1 : the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies : prototype; also : a perfect example 

2 : a transcendent entity that is a real pattern of which existing things are imperfect representations : idea 

3 : (psychology) an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C. G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual


"That archetype of the clean-cut, indefatigable and incorruptible agent was largely the invention of J. Edgar Hoover, who led the FBI for 48 years, from May 1924 to May 1972." — Vanessa Romo,, 13 July 2017

"In Nashville, … [Shania] Twain has come to be embraced as an elder and an archetype. Carrie Underwood had to prove that she could handle one of Twain's hits when she competed on American Idol en route to becoming one of the reigning pop-country figures of the post-Shania era." — Jewly Hight, Vulture, 29 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

Archetype derives via Latin from the Greek adjective archetypos ("archetypal"), formed from the verb archein ("to begin" or "to rule") and the noun typos ("type"). (Archein also gave us the prefix arch-, meaning "principal" or "extreme," used to form such words as archenemy, archduke, and archconservative.) Archetype has specific uses in the fields of philosophy and psychology. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, for example, believed that all things have ideal forms (aka archetypes) of which real things are merely shadows or copies. And in the psychology of C. G. Jung, archetype refers to an inherited idea or mode of thought that is present in the unconscious of the individual. In everyday prose, however, archetype is most commonly used to mean "a perfect example of something."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 6, 2017 is:

esemplastic • \ess-em-PLASS-tik\  • adjective

: shaping or having the power to shape disparate things into a unified whole


"Art achieves its impact from something Samuel Taylor Coleridge called its esemplastic power, the ability to make sense out of chaos, to 'shape into one' the many truths around us." — Teresa Jordan, The Year of Living Virtuously: Weekends Off, 2014 

"The prison walls of self had closed entirely round him; he was walled completely by the esemplastic power of his imagination…." — Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 1929

Did you know?

"Unusual and new-coined words are, doubtless, an evil; but vagueness, confusion, and imperfect conveyance of our thoughts, are a far greater," wrote English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Biographia Literaria, 1817. True to form, in that same work, he assembled esemplastic by melding the Greek phrase es hen, meaning "into one," with plastic to fulfill his need for a word that accurately described the imagination's ability to shape disparate experiences into a unified whole (e.g., the poet's imaginative ability to communicate a variety of images, sensations, emotions, and experiences in the unifying framework of a poem). The verb intensify was another word that Coleridge was compelled to mint while writing Biographia.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 5, 2017 is:

parable • \PAIR-uh-bul\  • noun

: example; specifically : a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle


The priest opened his homily by relating the parable of the Good Samaritan, from the Gospel of Luke.

"Remotely based on the 1844 Hans Christian Andersen tale 'The Snow Queen,' a parable about faith and friendship, the movie ['Frozen'] retained only the central metaphor of a woman who can freeze people's hearts with her witchcraft." — Jesse Green, The New York Times, 15 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

Parable comes to us via Anglo-French from the Late Latin word parabola, which in turn comes from Greek parabolē, meaning "comparison." The word parabola may look familiar if you remember your geometry. The mathematical parabola refers to a kind of comparison between a fixed point and a straight line, resulting in a parabolic curve; it came to English from New Latin (Latin as used since the end of the medieval period, especially in scientific description and classification). Parable, however, descends from Late Latin (the Latin language used by writers in the 3rd to 6th centuries). The Late Latin term parabola referred to verbal comparisons: it essentially meant "allegory" or "speech." Other English descendants of Late Latin parabola are parole and palaver.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 4, 2017 is:

stridulate • \STRIJ-uh-layt\  • verb

: to make a shrill creaking noise by rubbing together special bodily structures — used especially of male insects (such as crickets or grasshoppers)


"When attacked from the side, the crickets stridulated and tried to bite their attacker." — Matt Walker, BBC News, 28 July 2009

"Every day throughout the year begins and ends with … insects rattling and stridulating, and birds singing their hearts out." — Alex Shoumatoff, Yale Environment 360, 18 May 2017

Did you know?

Stridulate is one member of a word family that has its ancestry in the Latin word stridulus, meaning "shrill." The word alludes to the sharp, high-pitched sound that is produced by a number of insects—particularly crickets and grasshoppers but also certain beetles—as well as other animals, usually as a mating call or a signal of territorial behavior. Stridulus comes from stridere, which is the direct source of our noun stridor, a word found in medical dictionaries. Stridor means "a harsh, shrill, or creaking noise" and also "a harsh vibrating sound heard during respiration in cases of obstruction of the air passages."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 3, 2017 is:

tin-pot • \TIN-PAHT\  • adjective

: cheap or trivial of its kind : petty, small-time, two-bit


"Every fascist, authoritarian and tin-pot dictator in history has tried to shut down dissent." — Michael Goodwin, The New York Post, 15 June 2017

"What a gaggle of tin-pot soldiers we were, the intelligent bored silly, the mediocre exhausted, and the dense frightened out of their wits." — Paul West, Harper's, January 2009

Did you know?

Tin has never commanded as much respect as some other metals. As a reflection of this, its name has long been used in terms denoting the tawdry or petty. Tin-pot has been used for minor or insignificant things or people since the early 1800s. Tinhorn has named fakes or frauds (especially gamblers) since the second half of that century, and tin lizzie has been a nickname for an inexpensive car since Ford introduced the Model T. Another example is tin-pan, meaning "noisy, harsh, tinny." That word features in the name of the famous Tin Pan Alley, in which it evokes the tinny sound of pianos pounded furiously by musicians plugging tunes to producers.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 2, 2017 is:

clew • \KLOO\  • noun

1 : a ball of thread, yarn, or cord

2 : something that guides through an intricate procedure or maze of difficulties : clue

3 a : a lower corner or only the after corner of a sail

b : a metal loop attached to the lower corner of a sail

c : (plural) a combination of lines by which a hammock is suspended


"High overhead, topmen scrambled to furl and unfurl sails and tend to yards and booms and spars and various clews." — Corey Kilgannon, The New York Times, 30 Aug. 2009

"But this boldness that I took to be presumption was a vital clew to the nature of Ernest Everhard." — Jack London, The Iron Heel, 1908

Did you know?

The "ball of thread" meaning of clew (from Middle English clewe and ultimately from Old English cliewen) has been with us since before the 12th century. In Greek mythology, Ariadne gave a ball of thread to Theseus so that he could use it to find his way out of her father's labyrinth. This, and similar tales, gave rise to the use of clew for anything that could guide a person through a difficult place. This use led, in turn, to the meaning "a piece of evidence that leads one toward the solution of a problem." Today, the variant spelling clue, which appeared in the 17th century, is the more common spelling for the "evidence" sense, but you'll find clew in some famous works of literature. Also, clew is the only choice for the sailing senses.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 1, 2017 is:

apodictic • \ap-uh-DIK-tik\  • adjective

: expressing or of the nature of necessary truth or absolute certainty


"On the humbler level of recorded evidence, what is one to make of a thinker-scholar who
ruled with apodictic, magisterial certainty that 'Shakespeare's tragedies are second-class
with the exception of Lear'?" — George Steiner, The Times Literary Supplement, 4 June 1993

"Her writing, collected in a volume titled Sweet Nothings (a title intended, one suspects, to ward off serious criticism), has an apodictic, take-it-or-leave-it quality: 'Art is a low-risk, high-reward crime.'" — Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal, Winter 2016

Did you know?

Apodictic is a word for those who are confident about that of which they speak. It's a handy word that can describe a conclusive concept, a conclusive person, or even that conclusive person's conclusive remarks. A well-known close relative of apodictic is paradigm ("an outstandingly clear or typical example"); both words are built on Greek deiknynai, meaning "to show." More distant relatives (from Latin dicere, a relative of deiknynai that means "to say") include diction, dictate, edict, and predict.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 31, 2017 is:

werewolf • \WAIR-woolf\  • noun

: a person transformed into a wolf or capable of assuming a wolf's form


"The John Landis-directed video opens with a disclaimer stating that by creating the music video, [Michael] Jackson in no way endorsed supernatural practices—which includes the belief that humans could ever transform into werewolves." — Leslie Richin,, 2 Dec. 2016

"It's true, the fashion community and the supernatural don't always mix. Werewolves, for one, are not very respectful when it comes to their outfits—they tend to tear away their clothes." — Marshall Heyman, Harper's, 14 Feb. 2017

Did you know?

Though some doubts about the word's etymology still remain, werewolf probably comes from a prehistoric West Germanic compound whose constituent parts gave Old English wer ("man") and wulf ("wolf"). The word is related to Middle Dutch weerwulf and Old High German werwolf. Another rather obscure word for werewolf is lycanthrope, which traces back through Latin to a Greek combination of lyk- (from lykos, meaning "wolf") and anthrōpos (meaning "human being"). English also sometimes makes use of the French-derived word loup-garou, from Old French leu ("wolf") and garoul or garulf (a word of Germanic origin meaning "werewolf").

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