WORD OF THE DAY.pngdelectable


The suffix -able is a favorite for tacking onto verbs to form adjectives, but you would search in vain for the verb that underlies today's adjective delectable. That verb, thanks to a long and winding road through European languages, has ended up in English as delight, not delect. Delectable things are extremely pleasing; the adjective is applied especially to foods.




A conspiracy is a secret agreement between two or more people to commit an unlawful or harmful act. Conspiracy theorists are people who believe that the government is secretly controlled by power brokers in flagrant violation of the constitution.


Conspiracy can also refer to the act of planning an unlawful or harmful act: Terrorists might be accused of organizing a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Conspiracy is ultimately from Latin cōnspīrāre "to agree or plot together, literally to breathe together." The corresponding English verb is conspire.


WORD OF THE DAY.pngaltruistic


The underlying ism of today's adjective is altruism, a word that doesn't advertise its relatives very clearly. But they are there, in alter, and more clearly in French "autre". The core concept is other people, as opposed to yourself. One who is altruistic puts the needs of others or another first, without regard to oneself. In animals, altruistic behavior helps the group but may harm the individual.


WORD OF THE DAY.pnginarticulate


Use the adjective inarticulate to describe poor communication skills, like at your most inarticulate moments when you nervously fumble to find the right word and completely forget to make your most important point.


Inarticulate sounds — a grunt, cry, scream, snort, wail, howl, moan, sob, snicker — are heard but not easily understood. If something is inarticulate, it is hard to get the meaning, like an inarticulate speech whose main idea can't be found. Creative works can also be inarticulate, when it isn't clear what — if anything — they are trying to express, like a painter whose gallery show that is called "inarticulate" by a critic: You can't grasp what the artist is trying to say.




If you want to move to the countryside — especially if you desire a simple, unsophisticated life there — you may explain to people that you wish to rusticate your busy life.


The verb rusticate means "to send to the countryside." If you live in the city, you may want to rusticate your kids in the summers so they can experience a different lifestyle. In Britain, another meaning of the verb is to suspend from university, as in to be punished. If you get caught breaking too many rules with your practical jokes, the dean may rusticate you for a term or two.



A fête is a party, often one thrown in someone's honor. You'll find fête used as both a verb and a noun. If you want to fête someone, throw them a fête.


Fête is a word taken directly from French. In fact, sometimes in English you'll see a circumflex accent over the first "e" in fête. This makes it especially easy to remember, because this accent looks almost like a party hat.



A palette is a range of colors. It is also the board that artists use to hold and mix paint. Picture Picasso in his blue period: He is holding a palette on which you see a limited palette of blue tones.


The meaning of the word palette has extended beyond actual colors to include figurative colors. A musician can use a palette of tones and modes. Either way it is a limited selection from all things available. Don't confuse this word with the homophone palate which refers to your sense of taste. Both words come to English through Old French but have different Latin roots.


If you use the word discourse, you are describing a formal and intense discussion or debate.

The noun discourse comes from the Latin discursus to mean "an argument." But luckily, that kind of argument does not mean people fighting or coming to blows. The argument in discourse refers to an exchange of ideas — sometimes heated — that often follows a kind of order and give-and-take between the participants. It's the kind of argument and discussion that teachers love, so discourse away!


If you stipple something, that means you add tiny dots of color or texture, such as using a special painting tool to stipple a plain wall with dots of a different color to make it look more interesting.

The verb stipple came into English from the Dutch word stippelen, meaning "to spot or dot.” Artist stipple paint onto their canvases and from the distance, the dots look like a field of flowers. You can also stipple metal, by poking it with a tool that creates little circular dents — that look like dots — to give it an artistic look.

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Pie Hole Word of the Day


Compound adjectives referring to people's mouths are never flattering in English, and today's word follows the pattern. Mealy-mouthed is opposite to "direct" in several senses and can suggest deviousness, insincerity, timidity, equivocation, or compromising in speech. The connection with meal is not straightforward but the word manages to sound disparaging even without making obvious etymological sense.



As humans we are all fallible, because fallible means likely to make errors or fail. Nobody's perfect, after all.

Fall down on the job and you're fallible. It's a forgiving way to say you screwed up. If a scientific experiment's data is fallible, that means you can't trust the numbers. More than just locking your keys in the car, fallible can allude to a lack of moral strength. If in addition to locking your keys in the car, you kissed your best friend's husband, you might try using "I'm fallible" as your defense.


Well-Rounded Word of the Day:

Three hundred years ago today was the birth day of Denis Diderot, a French philosopher and writer. He devoted a great part of his adult life to writing and editing the Encyclopédie, a monumental reference work which was the model and archetype of encyclopedias today. Encyclopedia is a Greek-derived word from roots that mean "all-round education."



The adjective, congruent fits when two shapes are the same in shape and size. If you lay two congruent triangles on each other, they would match up exactly.

Congruent comes from the Latin verb congruere "to come together, correspond with." Figuratively, the word describes something that is similar in character or type. Are your actions congruent with your values? If a friend says something outrageous that you don't want to agree with but don't want to disagree with either, say that your friend's idea is congruent with what you think. That way you can agree with him but change your mind later if you have to.




Use the verb douse to describe covering something with water or other liquid. When you're camping, you douse the campfire with water when you're done with it.

Douse often involves water, but you could also douse your French fries in ketchup. Douse can describe the act of extinguishing a candle, or even turning off a light. You might douse your bedroom light when it's time to sleep or simply douse a candle by blowing it out. To pronounce douse correctly, remember that it rhymes with mouse.

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If you need a word that makes cave sound more interesting you might try grotto, an Italian loaner that is used in English to designate small caves or artificially constructed ones. Italian developed the word from its parent Latin, where the word was crypt: a word that has also made its way into English with a different but related meaning.