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Cuvantul zilei - Word of the day

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 17, 2018 is:

thwart • \THWORT\  • verb

1 a : to oppose successfully : defeat the hopes or aspirations of

b : to run counter to so as to effectively oppose or baffle : contravene

2 : to pass through or across


The baby howled when her mother thwarted her in her effort to crawl up the stairs.

"… nearly 1,850 firefighters already working the blaze planned to build 'indirect lines'— containment lines placed in front of the fire's active edge—but were faced with the possibility that their efforts could be thwarted by the weather." — Sarah Ravani, The San Francisco Chronicle, 20 July 2018

Did you know?

Thwart and its synonyms foil and frustrate all suggest checking or defeating another's plan or preventing the achievement of a goal. Foil implies checking or defeating so as to discourage future efforts ("the police foiled the attempted robbery"), while frustrate suggests making all efforts, however vigorous or persistent, futile or ineffectual ("frustrated attempts at government reform"). Thwart usually indicates frustration caused by opposition ("the army thwarted an attempted coup").

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 16, 2018 is:

volatile • \VAH-luh-tul\  • adjective

1 a : characterized by or subject to rapid or unexpected change

b : unable to hold the attention fixed because of an inherent lightness or fickleness of disposition

2 a : tending to erupt into violence : explosive

b : easily aroused

c : lighthearted, lively

3 : readily vaporizable at a relatively low temperature

4 : difficult to capture or hold permanently : evanescent, transitory

5 : flying or having the power to fly


Our financial advisor cautioned us to be conservative with our investments while the stock market was still volatile.

"A second round of testing has been ordered for a Massachusetts charter school where elevated levels of toxic chemicals were detected. … Initial testing … found high levels of petroleum and other volatile organic compounds." — The Associated Press, 8 July 2018

Did you know?

Volatile was originally for the birds—quite literally. Back in the 14th century, volatile was a noun that referred to birds (especially wild fowl) or other winged creatures, such as butterflies. That's not as flighty as it sounds. Volatile traces back to the Latin verb volare, which means "to fly." By the end of the 16th century, people were using volatile as an adjective for things that were so light they seemed ready to fly. The adjective was soon extended to vapors and gases, and by the early 17th century, volatile was being applied to individuals or things as prone to sudden change as some gaseous substances. In recent years, volatile has landed in economic, political, and technical contexts far flown from its avian origins.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 15, 2018 is:

nonchalant • \nahn-shuh-LAHNT\  • adjective

: having an air of easy unconcern or indifference


"After the doors closed, the man … grabbed onto the train from the outside. And off he went, surfing through the subway tunnel while some commuters … rode unsuspecting inside, according to a video captured by another subway rider…. The video … shows the man holding on in a calm, nonchalant manner, even letting down one of his arms." — Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post, 12 July 2018

"By the time of [Jennifer] Lawrence's arrival, the teenage girl sitting next to me—a Hunger Games obsessive—was completely starstruck, gawping and garbling. Obviously, I was the nonchalant journalist, unfazed by fame and all that nonsense." — The London Evening Standard, 20 Jan. 2014

Did you know?

Since nonchalant ultimately comes from words meaning "not" and "be warm," it's no surprise that the word is all about keeping one's cool. The French word nonchalant, which strolled into English in the 1700s, has essentially held the same meaning in English as in French. It was derived from the Old French verb nonchaloir ("to disregard") and can be traced back to Latin non ("not") and calēre," meaning "to be warm." Unconcerned is one synonym of nonchalant, along with casual, complacent, and insouciant.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 14, 2018 is:

gaffer • \GAF-er\  • noun

1 : an old man — compare gammer

2 a British : foreman, overseer

b British : employer

3 : a head glassblower

4 : a lighting electrician on a motion-picture or television set


Before the first day of shooting, the gaffer spent several days setting up all the lights.

"There were no gaffers or best boys or Foley artists who called Wilmington home. Many folks didn't even know what all those words meant." — Amy Hotz, The Star-News (Wilmington, North Carolina), 11 May 2018

Did you know?

Though movie and cinema buffs associate gaffer with Hollywood, the word actually pre-dates motion pictures by about 300 years. The first recorded use of gaffer dates from the 16th century, when it was used as a title of respect for an older gentleman. Later it was used as a generic noun for any elderly man, and then it picked up the sense "foreman" (still used in British English), perhaps because the foreman was the most experienced and, most likely, the oldest person in a work crew. Today gaffer is usually applied to the head lighting electrician on a movie set. The gaffer's assistant is called the best boy.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 13, 2018 is:

orgulous • \OR-gyuh-lus\  • adjective

: proud


The hotel manager tended to adopt an orgulous air with those guests who were not regular visitors and who might be unaware of the building's rich and storied history.

"He astutely recognized that intimate relations with the orgulous Kennedys could only heighten his influence. Indeed, apart from Robert Kennedy and Douglas Dillon, McNamara was the only member of Kennedy's Cabinet to enter the president's social life." — Jacob Heilbrunn, The New Republic, 22 Mar. 1993

Did you know?

"In Troy, there lies the scene. From Isles of Greece / The princes orgulous, their high blood chaf'd, / Have to the port of Athens sent their ships." Thus William Shakespeare begins the Trojan War tale Troilus and Cressida, employing orgulous, a colorful word first adopted in the 13th century from Anglo-French orguillus. After the Bard's day, orgulous dropped from sight for 200 years; there is no record of its use until it was rejuvenated by the pens of Robert Southey and Sir Walter Scott in the early 1800s. 20th-century authors (including James Joyce and W. H. Auden) continued its renaissance, and it remains an elegant (if infrequent) choice for today's writers.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 12, 2018 is:

lapidary • \LAP-uh-dair-ee\  • noun

1 : a cutter, polisher, or engraver of precious stones usually other than diamonds

2 : the art of cutting gems


Lapidary is more of a science than an art: the cutter needs to be aware of the physical properties of the material before fashioning it.

"Even before it was acquired by Harry Winston in 2013, the 101.73-carat gem … was described by Christie's as 'the most perfect diamond ever offered for sale at auction.' It took two years for lapidaries to cut the flawless pear-shaped stone, which has since been named the Winston Legacy." — Town & Country, October 2017

Did you know?

The Latin word for "stone" is lapis; in that language, something "of or relating to stone" is described as lapidarius. Gem cutters obviously relate well to stone, and during the 14th century someone decided that lapidarius should be related to them. The spelling of the term was modified, and it was borrowed into English as a name for both gem cutters and their art. Since the 1700s, lapidary has also been used as an adjective describing things having the elegance and precision of inscriptions carved on stone monuments or things relating to the art of gem cutting.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 11, 2018 is:

circuitous • \ser-KYOO-uh-tus\  • adjective

1 : having a circular or winding course

2 : not being forthright or direct in language or action


While either method will yield the correct answer, one is far less circuitous and therefore considered superior.

"The path has been circuitous and turbulent, but Andersen is back on a football field, back in those comfortable colors and trademark visor, and back at Utah." — Christopher Kamrani, The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), 9 Mar. 2018

Did you know?

If you guessed that circuitous is related to circuit, you're right—both words come from Latin circuitus, the past participle of the verb circumire, meaning "to go around." Circumire is derived, in turn, from Latin circum, meaning "around," plus ire, which means "to go." Other circum descendants making the rounds in English include circumference ("the perimeter of a circle"), circumvent (one meaning of which is "to make a circuit around"), circumlocution ("the act of 'talking around' a subject"), and circumnavigate ("to go around"). There's also the prefix circum-, which means "around" or "about," and the familiar word circumstance, which describes a condition or event that "stands around" another.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 10, 2018 is:

rash • \RASH\  • adjective

: marked by or proceeding from undue haste or lack of deliberation or caution


"I know you're upset about not getting a raise, but I think it would be rash to quit your job in protest," said Martha to her friend.

"We were at the mall, and two of my boys were bored and asked to ride the escalator up to the second floor while I checked out. We were in a department store where I could see the escalators from where I was standing and, being flustered and overwhelmed, I made a rash decision and said, 'Sure, one time.'" — Carmen Rasmusen Herbert, The Deseret News, 1 July 2018

Did you know?

The earliest known uses of rash (then spelled rasch) occur in a northern dialect of 15th-century Middle English. Its earlier origins are not known for sure, though it is clearly related to a number of similar words in the Germanic languages, including Old High German rasc ("fast, hurried, strong, clever"), Old Norse röskr ("brave, vigorous"), and Middle Dutch rasch ("quick, nimble, agile, vigorous"). It is not, however, related to the English noun rash ("an eruption on the body," as in a "skin rash"). The noun rash, which first appeared in English around 1700, comes by way of French and Vulgar Latin from Latin rasus, the past participle of radere ("to scrape" or "to shave").

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 9, 2018 is:

weald • \WEELD\  • noun

1 : a heavily wooded area : forest

2 : a wild or uncultivated usually upland region


"With food, terroir remains the best term to define how variations in landscape and climate in a place give a region a certain identity. This is aired strikingly, with Toby Glanville's photographs of the estuary and marshes, weald and orchards—a soothing greyness, an atmosphere of English Nordic to get you into the mood and cook Harris's recipes, mostly easy to make." — Rose Prince, The Spectator, 18 Nov. 2017

"Challenger's house was on the very edge of the hill, and from its southern face, in which was the study window, one looked across the vast stretch of the weald to where the gentle curves of the South Downs formed an undulating horizon." — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Poison Belt, 1913

Did you know?

If weald were a tree, it would have many annual rings. It has been in use as a general word for "forest" since the days of Old English, and it has also long been used, in its capitalized form, as a geographic name for a once-heavily forested region of southeast England. Weald is also often capitalized today when used to refer to wooded areas like the Weald of Kent and the Weald of Sussex in England. In time, the word branched out to designate any wild and uncultivated upland regions. A related word is wold, meaning "an upland plain or stretch of rolling land."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 8, 2018 is:

debunk • \dee-BUNK\  • verb

: to expose the sham or falseness of


"Illusionists and comedians Penn and Teller have made a career out of pulling back the curtain, whether to reveal the methods magicians employ in their tricks or to debunk pseudoscientific claptrap on their former television series." — Marc Mohan, The Oregonian, 7 Mar. 2014

"The show tells great stories, but it's also devoted to helping you debunk fantastical ones. Its recurring 'Skeptic Check' feature deflates pseudoscientific claims and conspiracy theories." — Erin Blakemore, The Washington Post, 26 June 2018

Did you know?

If you guessed that debunk has something to do with bunk, meaning "nonsense," you're correct. We started using bunk around the turn of the 20th century. (It derived, via bunkum, from a remark made by a congressman from Buncombe County, North Carolina.) Within a couple of decades, debunk was first used in print for the act of taking the bunk out of something. There are plenty of synonyms for debunk, including disprove, rebut, refute, and the somewhat rarer confute. Even falsify can mean "to prove something false," in addition to "to make something false." Debunk itself often suggests that something is not merely untrue but also a sham; one can simply disprove a myth, but if it is debunked, the implication is that it was a grossly exaggerated or foolish claim.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 7, 2018 is:

fungible • \FUN-juh-bul\  • adjective

1 : being of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in the satisfaction of an obligation

2 : interchangeable

3 : flexible


"The good news—in one way of looking at it—is that Sears had significant fungible assets of decent value to raise cash and a more than cozy relationship with a few willing buyers." — Steve Dennis,, 31 May 2018

"The more difficult assessment is that this bizarro environment is a product of our resistance to the idea that our relationships to art and artists can be alive and fungible, that they can change." — Stephen Kearse, Pitchfork, 25 June 2018

Did you know?

Fungible—which derives from the Latin verb fungi, meaning "to perform" (no relation to the noun fungus and its plural fungi)—is a word that often shows up in legal and political contexts. Something fungible can be exchanged for something else of the same kind. For example, when we say "oil is a fungible commodity," we mean that when a purchaser is expecting a delivery of oil, any oil of the stipulated quantity and quality will usually do. Another example of something fungible is cash. It doesn't matter what twenty dollar bill you get—it's still worth the same amount as any other twenty dollar bill. In contrast, something like a work of art isn't fungible; a purchaser would expect a specific, identifiable item to be delivered. In broader use, fungible can mean "interchangeable," or sometimes "readily changeable to adapt to new situations."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 6, 2018 is:

mufti • \MUFF-tee\  • noun

: ordinary dress as distinguished from that denoting an occupation or station; especially : civilian clothes when worn by a person in the armed forces


"Norderval sings in a soaring, evocative line. Even in mufti, her performance, not as honed as it will be after another three weeks of rehearsals, is riveting." — Cynthia Robins, The San Francisco Chronicle, 17 June 2001

"'I'm Chief Inspector Barnaby. Can I help you?' 'Well…' She eyed him doubtfully. 'May I ask why you're in mufti?' 'In what? Oh'—he followed her stern gaze. 'I'm a detective. Plain clothes.'" — Caroline Graham, The Killings at Badger's Drift, 1987

Did you know?

In the Islamic tradition, a mufti is a professional jurist who interprets Muslim law. When religious muftis were portrayed on the English stage in the early 19th century, they typically wore costumes that included a dressing gown and a tasseled cap—an outfit that some felt resembled the clothing preferred by the off-duty military officers of the day. The clothing sense of mufti, which first appeared in English around that same time, is thought to have developed out of this association of stage costume and civilian clothing.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 5, 2018 is:

bereft • \bih-REFT\  • adjective

1 : deprived or robbed of the possession or use of something — usually used with of

2 : lacking something needed, wanted, or expected — used with of

3 : suffering the death of a loved one : bereaved


"The sustaining whirlwind had let her down, to stumble on again …, bereft of moral support which is wanted in life more than all the charities of material help." — Joseph Conrad, Chance, 1913

"People rarely relate intimate tales of misery and isolation on Facebook. Rather, social media postings typically feature fun and friendship, and people who lack them are likely to feel left out and bereft." — Jane E. Brody, The New York Times, 26 June 2018

Did you know?

In Old English, the verb berēafian meant "to plunder or rob." The modern equivalent (and descendant) of berēafian is bereave, a verb that implies that you have robbed or stripped someone of something, often suddenly and unexpectedly, and sometimes by force. Bereft comes from the past participle of bereave; Shakespeare uses the participle in The Merchant of Venice, when Bassanio tells Portia, "Madam, you have bereft me of all words." But by Shakespeare's day bereft was also being used as an adjective. The Bard uses it in The Taming of the Shrew, as a newly obedient and docile Katharina declares, "A woman mov'd is like a fountain troubled—muddy, … thick, bereft of beauty."

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 4, 2018 is:

slimsy • \SLIM-zee\  • adjective

: flimsy, frail


"For one thing, she'll have to make Daisy some clothes first, because Daisy hasn't got much to wear except what she's got on…. Just about all she's got to her name is that little slimsy gingham jumper she's wearing." — Erskine Caldwell, A Woman in the House, 1936

"With Nebraska going out in the quarterfinals against Michigan—leaving the Cornhuskers with a slimsy resume nearly devoid of high-end wins—the Big Ten is poised to produce only four tournament teams for the first time since 2008." — Patrick Stevens, The Chicago Tribune, 5 Mar. 2018

Did you know?

The reasons why some words flourish and others fall by the lexical wayside are often unclear, but what is clear is that slimsy is firmly in the latter category: it has very little current use. This doesn't have to stop you from using it though; slimsy is a blend of slim and flimsy, and its meaning should be pretty much apparent to your audience if you're careful with the context. The word was first used in the mid-19th century and was at its peak of popularity in the early 20th. Who knows? Maybe the 21st century will see its revival.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 3, 2018 is:

pacify • \PASS-uh-fye\  • verb

1 a : to allay the anger or agitation of : soothe

b : appease, propitiate

2 a : to restore to a tranquil state : settle

b : to reduce to a submissive state : subdue


"To check on the health of a colony of bees it is usually necessary to open the hive, a procedure which involves using smoke to pacify the bees." — The Economist, 31 Mar. 2018

"In the areas that were hardest for the army to pacify, former residents and monitoring groups report a rising tide of arrests." — Louisa Loveluck, The Washington Post, 27 May 2018

Did you know?

A parent who wants to win a little peace and quiet might give a fussy baby a pacifier. An employer seeking to avoid worker discontent might pay employees well. These actions may seem unrelated, but etymologically speaking, they have a lot in common. Both pacifier and pay are ultimately derived from pax, the Latin word for "peace." As you may have guessed, pax is also the source of our word peace. Pacify comes to us through Middle English pacifien, from the Latin verb pacificare, which derives from pax.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 2, 2018 is:

agog • \uh-GAHG\  • adjective

: full of intense interest or excitement : eager


We were all agog over the rumor that the famous actor would be coming to town for his next movie.

"As we went through the book, we felt like little children while turning page after page, agog at the incredible artwork! Although the subject of faeries might be considered for kids, this is not a book full of cute little Tinkerbells." — Ed and Cynthia Justus, The Garden Island (Lihue, Hawaii), 2 Mar. 2018

Did you know?

English speakers have been clamoring over the word agog for over 450 years. The word probably derives from the Middle French phrase en gogues, but the semantic link between en gogues (meaning "in a state of mirth") and the earliest English uses of agog, which exist in the phrase "to set agog" ("to excite, stimulate, make eager"), are not entirely clear. The -gog part of the word might make one wonder if agog has a connection to the verb goggle, meaning "to stare with wide or protuberant eyes," as in the manner of one who is intensely excited about something. That word actually has a different origin: the Middle English gogelen, meaning "to squint." In many instances, agog is followed by a preposition, such as over or about.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 1, 2018 is:

risorgimento • \ree-zor-jih-MEN-toh\  • noun

1 often capitalized : the 19th century movement for Italian political unity

2 : a time of renewal or renaissance : revival


"Aware of and influenced by the English poetry of the Risorgimento, Melville kept to his own preoccupations rather than merely echoing the political stances of other poets or his acquaintances…." — Hershel Parker, Melville: The Making of a Poet, 2007

"If Mr. Smith offended professional historians, he found a receptive audience with Italian readers, who made 'Italy: A Modern History' a runaway best seller, one of the most popular academic works ever published in Italy. His ideas were greeted warmly by Italian leftists, who regarded the Risorgimento as a failed revolution, but his sheer readability also contributed to sales." — William Grimes, The New York Times, 2 Aug. 2017

Did you know?

During the period of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars (1796-1815), the French dominated Italy and introduced many new reforms to the Italian states. After the wars, the states were restored to their former rulers, the Austrians, and took on a conservative character. In response, a number of secret societies arose as part of an ideological and literary movement in support of a united Italy free of foreign domination. This movement was given the name Risorgimento, which literally translates from Italian as "rising again." Although most modern use of the term still refers to this movement, the word also has broader application in English, referring to revivals or renewals of any sort. This second sense is occasionally capitalized in a nod to the earlier use.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 31, 2018 is:

musket • \MUSS-kut\  • noun

: a heavy large-caliber muzzle-loading usually smoothbore shoulder firearm; broadly : a shoulder gun carried by infantry


"They could see changes going on among the troops. There were marchings this way and that way. A battery wheeled leisurely. On the crest of a small hill was the thick gleam of many departing muskets." — Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage, 1895

"It's not the gun that kicked off the Revolution with that shot heard round the world, but it's similar. The musket is now in every history book. It's come to symbolize freedom and independence—even celebrated recently on Broadway, in the smash hit, Hamilton." — Lee Cowan, speaking on CBS, 13 Mar. 2016

Did you know?

In the early era of firearms, cannons of lesser size such as the falconet were sometimes named for birds of prey. Following this pattern, Italians applied moschetto or moschetta, meaning "sparrow hawk," to a small-caliber piece of ordnance in the 16th century. Spaniards borrowed this word as mosquete, and the French as mosquet, but both applied it to a heavy shoulder firearm rather than a cannon; English musket was borrowed soon thereafter from French. The word musket was retained after the original matchlock firing mechanism was replaced by a wheel lock, and retained still after the wheel lock was replaced by the flintlock. As the practice of rifling firearms—incising the barrel with spiral grooves to improve the bullet's accuracy—became more common, the term musket gradually gave way to the newer word rifle in the 18th century.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 30, 2018 is:

tempestuous • \tem-PESS-chuh-wus\  • adjective

: of, relating to, or resembling a violent storm : turbulent, stormy


Because the player's relationship with his manager had grown more tempestuous over the course of the season, the decision to trade him benefited everyone.

"The U.S. government stripped its embassy in Nicaragua down to bare-bone operations Monday after five days of deadly protests around the country, despite Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's efforts to calm his tempestuous nation." — Monique O. Madan and Glenn Garvin, The Miami Herald, 23 Apr. 2018

Did you know?

Time is sometimes marked in seasons, and seasons are associated with the weather. This explains how tempus, the Latin word for "time," could have given rise to an English adjective for things turbulent and stormy. Tempus is the root behind Old Latin tempestus, meaning "season," and Late Latin tempestuosus, the direct ancestor of tempestuous. As you might expect, tempus is also the root, by way of the Latin tempestas ("season, weather, or storm"), of the noun tempest. Tempus may also be akin to the Latin verb temperare ("to moderate, mix, or temper"), which made its way through Anglo-French to become the English temper.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 29, 2018 is:

gloss • \GLAHSS\  • verb

1 a : to provide a brief explanation or interpretation for : explain, define

b : interpret

2 : to dispose of by false or perverse interpretation


Although not intended for the layperson, the text is relatively free of jargon and most of the technical vocabulary has been glossed

"At times, however, the author doesn't tell quite enough. For example, he glosses the phrase 'kickapoo joy juice' as sportswriter Red Smith's 'frontier euphemism for a blazing fastball.' He should have gone on to explain that Smith lifted the term from Al Capp, the creator of 'Li'l Abner.'" — Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2013

Did you know?

You likely know gloss as a noun meaning "shine," or as part of the phrase gloss over, meaning "to treat or describe (something) as if it were not important," but those uses are unrelated to today's featured word. Today's verb comes from the noun gloss that refers primarily to a brief explanation. It is Greek in origin, coming from glossa or glotta, meaning "tongue," "language," or "obscure word." Glossary is from this same root, as are two anatomical terms: glottis refers to the elongated space between the vocal cords and also to the structures that surround this space; epiglottis refers to the thin plate of flexible cartilage in front of the glottis that folds back over and protects the glottis during swallowing.

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