Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, March 06, 2022

sciamachy

[ sahy-am-uh-kee ] [ saɪˈæm ə ki ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

noun

an act or instance of fighting a shadow or an imaginary enemy.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of sciamachy?

Sciamachy “an act of fighting a shadow” is adapted from Ancient Greek skiamachía, equivalent to skiá “shadow” and máchē “battle.” Skiá is sometimes romanized as scia-, consistent with the Latin trend of changing Greek kappa to Roman c, but other derivatives of skiá in English hew closely to the original spelling and appear as skia-, as in skiagraph “a photographic image produced by the action of x-rays or nuclear radiation.” Máchē is a popular element in technical terms related to fighting or warfare. When combined with taûros “bull,” we get tauromachy “bullfighting,” and when combined with lógos “word,” we get logomachy “a dispute about or concerning words.” Sciamachy was first recorded in English circa 1620.

how is sciamachy used?

As farewells were played,
Order became disorder
And sciamachy took root.
In the dark place, where mirrors
Refracted black light
Breathing became ragged.

And, I, cannot now
Recognise a face.
There is but a record
Of a dark place.

J.B. Brown, “The Photographic Room,” Blood of Kings, 2012

Aru is indulging in sciamachy. She has the frustrated look of a person combating a shadow, a shadow that absorbs her anger and gives her nothing in return. As for me, it was not only her questions that daunted me, it was her look as well, the clear-eyed, judging gaze…

Shashi Deshpande, A Matter of Time, 1996

Listen to the word of the day

sciamachy

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day

Saturday, March 05, 2022

enumerate

[ ih-noo-muh-reyt, ih-nyoo- ] [ ɪˈnu məˌreɪt, ɪˈnyu- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to ascertain the number of; count.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of enumerate?

Enumerate “to ascertain the number of” comes from the Latin verb ēnumerāre “to count up,” equivalent to the element ē- “out of, from” and the noun numerus “number.” Both enumerate and number come from Latin numerus, but how did that stray b appear in number? As Latin evolved into French, the unstressed e in numerus was slowly lost in a process called syncope; to compare, in English, note how we pronounce the adjective every as “ev’ry.” Because the consonant cluster -mr- was a bit awkward to say, though a pattern called excrescence, the consonant b was inserted between the two letters, producing Old French nombre—much like how hamster and something in English are often pronounced as “hampster” and “sump-thing.” While number passed into English by way of French and therefore featured these two sound shifts, enumerate was borrowed directly from Latin with minimal changes. Enumerate was first recorded in English in the 1640s.

how is enumerate used?

Beginning about an hour after the workouts, researchers took repeated samples from each animal’s muscle, liver, heart, hypothalamus, white fat, brown fat and blood and used sophisticated machinery to identify and enumerate almost every molecule in those tissues related to energy usage. They also checked markers of activity from genes related to metabolism. Then they tabulated totals between the tissues and between the groups of mice.

Gretchen Reynolds, “Is It Better to Exercise in the Morning or Evening?” New York Times, January 19, 2022

The issue is that the best counting techniques often rely on recursion—that is, solving a problem using a similar problem that is a step smaller—but two-dimensional spatial counting problems just do not recurse well without some extra structure …. By the time you get to a grid of nine-by-nine, there are more than 700 trillion solutions .… We are trying to assess one way of cutting up a state without any ability to enumerate—let alone meaningfully compare it against—the universe of alternatives.

Moon Duchin, “Geometry versus Gerrymandering,” Scientific American, November 1, 2018

Listen to the word of the day

enumerate

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Word of the Day Calendar

Word of the day

Friday, March 04, 2022

pindan

[ pin-duhn, -dan ] [ ˈpɪn dən, -dæn ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

noun

semiarid country; scrubland.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of pindan?

Pindan “semiarid country” is an adaptation of the word bindan in the Bardi language. Bardi is an endangered language spoken in Western Australia’s northern Kimberley region, which borders the Indian Ocean and the Timor Sea. Unlike most aboriginal languages of Australia, which belong to the Pama-Nyungan family (as we learned in the Word of the Day podcast about yakka), Bardi belongs to the Nyulnyulan family, all languages of which are spoken in the same area of what is now Western Australia. In North America, the Pacific coast hosts the most linguistic diversity, with over 20 unrelated Indigenous language families and language isolates spoken from Juneau to San Diego; in Australia, a similar phenomenon exists on the continent’s northern shore, which more than a dozen discrete language families call home. Pindan was first recorded in English in the early 1930s.

how is pindan used?

Our ideals of nature include striking features of landscape: mountains and hills, flowing rivers, tall trees, perhaps even hedgerows. The pindan has none of these. It is flat and densely vegetated, though burnt fairly regularly. For people used to navigating by hills and valleys, it is easy to get lost in …. The qualities of the pindan are subtle, and must be lived with, learnt and understood. They reveal themselves gradually, to those who make an effort to find them. And they are known intimately by the people who truly belong there.

Pat Lowe, "You call it desert—we used to live there,” Dislocating the Frontier: Essaying the Mystique of the Outback, 2005

In the south-western Kimberley, wide sandy plains are covered by a low open woodland and tall shrubland known as pindan, in which wattles are dominant, with a grassy understorey. Passing southwards, as the rainfall diminishes there is a corresponding fall in the lushness and variety of the vegetation. To the south-west the transition is to the rugged Pilbara, and to the south the desert.

Margaret G. Corrick and Bruce Alexander Fuhrer, Wildflowers of Southern Western Australia, 1997

Listen to the word of the day

pindan

Play Podcast Stop Podcast
00:00/00:00
Word of the Day Calendar

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Word of the Day Calendar