Category: my word a day


gossamer ‚ÄĘ \GAH-suh-mer\ ‚ÄĘ adjective
: extremely light, delicate, or tenuous

Except for a few gossamer clouds, the sky was clear and blue.

“On two screens, she watched herself spin in a green field, gossamer wings floating off her body.” ‚ÄĒ Melena Ryzik, New York Times, March 3, 2015

Did you know?
In the days of Middle English, a period of mild weather in late autumn or early winter was sometimes called a gossomer, literally “goose summer.” People may have chosen that name for a late-season warm spell because October and November were the months when people felt that geese were at their best for eating. Gossomer was also used in Middle English as a word for filmy cobwebs floating through the air in calm, clear weather, apparently because somebody thought the webs looked like the down of a goose. This sense eventually inspired the adjective gossamer, which means “light, delicate, or tenuous”‚ÄĒjust like cobwebs or goose down.



inculcate ‚ÄĘ \in-KUL-kayt\ ‚ÄĘ verb
: to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions


“When Duke went to seven Final Fours over a nine-year span from 1986 through 1994, the Blue Devils were invariably led by juniors and seniors inculcated in how Krzyzewski wanted the game played.” ‚ÄĒ Barry Jacobs, Charlotte (North Carolina) News & Observer, April 10, 2015

Did you know?
Inculcate derives from the past participle of the Latin verb inculcare, meaning “to tread on.” In Latin, inculcare possesses both literal and figurative meanings, referring to either the act of walking over something or to that of impressing something upon the mind, often by way of steady repetition. It is the figurative sense that survives with inculcate, which was first used in English in the 16th century. Inculcare was formed in Latin by combining the prefix in- with calcare, meaning “to trample,” and ultimately derives from the noun calx, meaning “heel.” In normal usage inculcate is typically followed by the prepositions in or into, with the object of the preposition being the person or thing receiving the instruction.


June 09, 2015

obtain¬†‚ÄĘ \ub-TAYN\¬† ‚Äʬ†verb
1 : to gain or attain usually by planned action or effort
 2 : to be generally recognized or established : prevail 


“Business¬†owners¬†and¬†musical¬†acts¬†that¬†want¬†to participate¬†in the¬†series¬†can¬†sign¬†up¬†online¬†and¬†skip¬†the trip¬†to¬†City¬†Hall¬†to pay¬†fees¬†and¬†obtain¬†acoustic entertainment¬†licenses‚Ķ.” ‚ÄĒ¬†Steve¬†Annear,¬†BostonGlobe,¬†April¬†28,¬†2015

Did you know?
Obtain,¬†which¬†was¬†adopted¬†into¬†English¬†in the¬†15th century,¬†comes¬†to us via¬†Anglo-French¬†from¬†the¬†Latin obtinńďre,¬†meaning¬†“to¬†take¬†hold¬†of.”¬†Obtinńďre¬†was¬†itself formed¬†by the¬†combination¬†of¬†ob-,¬†meaning¬†“in the way,” and the¬†verb¬†tenńďre,¬†meaning¬†“to¬†hold.” In its¬†earliest uses,¬†obtain¬†often¬†implied¬†a¬†conquest¬†or a¬†successful victory¬†in¬†battle, but it is now¬†used¬†for any¬†attainment through¬†planned¬†action¬†or¬†effort. The¬†verb¬†tenńďre¬†has incontestably¬†prevailed¬†in the¬†English¬†language,¬†providing us¬†with¬†such¬†common¬†words¬†as¬†abstain,¬†contain,¬†detain,sustain, and,¬†perhaps¬†less¬†obviously, the¬†adjectives tenable¬†and¬†tenacious.


youthquake¬†‚ÄĘ \YOOTH-kwayk\¬† ‚Äʬ†noun
: a shift in cultural norms influenced by the values, tastes, and mores of young people

“One¬†late¬†afternoon¬†in the¬†summer¬†of¬†2009, I was¬†walking down¬†Wythe¬†Avenue, a¬†thoroughfare¬†in¬†Brooklyn’s Williamsburg¬†neighborhood¬†still¬†lined¬†with¬†warehouses that¬†were¬†home¬†to¬†vintage¬†clothing¬†and¬†indie-band practice¬†spaces¬†and¬†peppered¬†with¬†a few¬†bars¬†and restaurants. At¬†this¬†point,¬†Williamsburg¬†had¬†earned¬†a reputation¬†as the¬†home¬†of a¬†global¬†youthquake¬†of¬†fashion,music¬†and¬†culture.” ‚ÄĒ¬†Anne¬†Szustek,¬†Business¬†Insider,March¬†11,¬†2015

“There¬†have¬†been¬†innumerable¬†situations¬†in¬†which¬†the senior¬†employees¬†of Don‚Äôs¬†firm¬†‚Ķ¬†have¬†seemed¬†‚Ķunwilling¬†or¬†unable¬†to¬†truly¬†understand¬†the¬†changes¬†the world¬†was¬†going¬†through.‚Ķ¬†They¬†tried¬†to¬†harness¬†the energy¬†of the¬†youthquake¬†of the ‚Äė60s¬†here¬†and¬†there, but the¬†true¬†import¬†of all the¬†cultural¬†and¬†social¬†changes¬†of the¬†last¬†decade¬†more¬†or¬†less¬†passed¬†them¬†by.” ‚ÄĒMaureen¬†Ryan,¬†Huffington¬†Post,¬†April¬†27,¬†2015

Did you know?
The¬†1960s¬†were¬†a¬†time¬†of¬†seismic¬†social¬†upheaval brought about by¬†young¬†people¬†bent¬†on¬†shaking¬†up the establishment.¬†From¬†politics¬†to¬†fashion¬†to¬†music, the ways of youth¬†produced¬†far-reaching¬†cultural¬†changes. Linguistically, the¬†sixties¬†saw the¬†addition¬†to¬†English of such words¬†as¬†flower¬†child,¬†peacenik,¬†hippie,¬†love¬†beads,trippy,¬†vibe,¬†freak-out, and¬†love-in. Not¬†surprisingly, they also saw the¬†emergence¬†of¬†youthquake. Although commonly attributed¬†to¬†Vogue¬†editor¬†Diana¬†Vreeland, an earlier use of¬†youthquake¬†in¬†print¬†comes¬†from¬†a¬†1966 article¬†in¬†McCall’s: “the¬†youthquake, as¬†some¬†call¬†it … has swept both¬†sides¬†of the¬†Atlantic.”


clandestine¬†‚ÄĘ \klan-DES-tun\¬† ‚Äʬ†adjective
: marked by, held in, or conducted with secrecy :surreptitious 


Frida¬†Kahlo¬†met¬†Jose¬†Bartoli¬†in New¬†York¬†while¬†she wasrecuperating¬†from¬†spinal¬†surgery¬†stemming¬†from¬†a busaccident¬†in her youth. Their ‚Ķ clandestine correspondence lasted¬†for¬†three¬†years,¬†aided¬†by¬†friendsand¬†Kahlo’s¬†sister,¬†Cristina, who had¬†introduced¬†the¬†pair.”


Did you know?
In¬†1658, the¬†English¬†poet¬†John¬†Milton¬†wrote¬†of “clandestine¬†Hostility¬†cover’d¬†over¬†with¬†the¬†name of peace.”¬†Over¬†three¬†and a¬†half¬†centuries¬†later¬†we use clandestine in¬†much¬†the¬†same¬†way. The¬†word¬†is often used as a¬†synonym¬†of¬†secret¬†and¬†covert, and it is commonly applied to¬†actions¬†that¬†involve secrecy maintained for an¬†evil,¬†illicit, or¬†unauthorized¬†purpose. It comes to us by way of¬†Middle¬†French¬†from¬†Latinclandestinus, which is itself from clam,¬†meaningsecretly.”

Noblesse oblige

noblesse¬†oblige¬†‚ÄĘ \noh-BLESS-uh-BLEEZH\¬† ‚Äʬ†noun
: the obligation of honorable, generous, and responsiblebehavior associated with high rank or birth 

“And¬†true¬†to¬†those¬†sentiments¬†of¬†noblesse¬†oblige, in¬†1957the¬†Seiberling¬†family¬†turned¬†the¬†property¬†over¬†to a nonprofit¬†trust.” ‚ÄĒ¬†Steve¬†Stephens,¬†Columbus¬†(Ohio)Dispatch,¬†April¬†24,¬†2011


\FROO-gul\    adjective
Characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources.
“Budgeting makes most people groan and it’s easy to understand why. The idea of reining it in and becoming frugal feels like the financial equivalent of forsaking steak for rice cakes (no offense to anyone who prefers rice cakes).” Anna B. Wroblewska, Motley Fool, January 5, 2015.