Tag Archives: dictionary

Word of the Week – June 25, 2022

Ratiocinate

[rash-ee-OH-sin-ate]

Verb

Latin, 17th century

Form judgments by a process of logic. Reason.

This word comes from the Latin word “ratiocinat,” which means “deliberated; calculated.”  To ratiocinate, you must develop your critical and logical thinking skills.

Example: In working through my science fiction novel, I have to ratiocinate through the menagerie of characters and situations I’ve created.

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Word of the Week – June 18, 2022

Esemplastic

[es-em-PLAS-tik]

Adjective

Greek, early 19th century

Molding into one; unifying.

While constructed from Greek root, this word was coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, likely from the German “ineinsbildung,” meaning “forming into one.” The word “esemplastic” can be traced back to a singular source: English poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In his 1817 autobiography, “Biographia Literaria,” he formed the word by combining the Greek phrase “es hen,” meaning “into one,” with “plastic.” This fulfilled his desire for a term that depicted the imagination’s ability to meld vastly different experiences into a unified form — such as crafting various sensations, images, and experiences into a poem.

Example: I always try to relay my work experience to potential employers in an esemplastic manner.

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Word of the Week – June 11, 2022

Eudaemonism

[yoo-DEE-mə-niz-əm]

Noun

Greek, early 19th century

A system of ethics that bases moral value on the likelihood of actions producing happiness.

“Eudaemonism” entered English in the 19th century from the Greek “εὐδαιμονία,” meaning happiness, with the suffix “-ism” to indicate a system of belief or practice.  “Eudaemonism” is based on the Greek term “eudaemonia,” introduced by Aristotle.  Aristotle’s “eudaemonia” described the positive condition of doing and living well.  It was not, in fact, a synonym for happiness, but rather it described a greater state of positive existence, which combined wisdom, contemplation, virtue, and other beneficial attributes for personal success.

Example: Through all the anxiety and drama, I detected a true sense of eudaemonism in viewing the opening session of the January 6 Committee hearings.

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Word of the Week – June 4, 2022

Conspectus

[kən-SPEK-təs]

Noun

Latin, 1830s

A summary or overview of a subject.

This word stems from the Latin “conspectus,” meaning a “looking at, sight, view; range or power of vision.” It is the noun use of the past participle of “conspicere,” meaning “to look at”, which originates from “specere,” meaning “to look at”.  “Conspectus” sounds like another word that’s more common in modern English: “prospectus.” They also share a Latin root, “specere,” which means “to look at.” But while “conspectus” means an overview of a particular subject, a “prospectus” is “a printed document that advertises or describes a school, commercial enterprise, forthcoming book, etc., in order to attract or inform clients, members, buyers, or investors.”

Example: A conspectus of my work experience helped solidify my credentials for the engineering company.

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Word of the Week – May 28, 2022

Habile

[HA-bəl]

Adjective

Latin, 15th century

Deft; skillful.

In Latin, “habilis” means something is easily handled. The French word habile means skillful, and we kept that definition in Middle English as well.  Able is the more common word today, but habile remains a particularly skillful word.  In today’s parlance, you’re more likely to use the word able rather than habile.  The pronunciations are somewhat similar, and the meanings are close.  Able implies you have at least the basic ability to do something.  But to be habile is to be quite talented.

Example: I had to explain my habile approach to composing documentation for software development to the project manager.

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Word of the Week – May 21, 2022

Metanoia

[me-tə-noi-ə]

Noun

Greek, late 19th century

A transformational change in one’s way of life; a change resulting from repentance and spiritual awareness

Metanoia has sometimes been personified throughout history as a shadowy goddess cloaked in sadness.  She was accompanied by Opportunity, and was known to cause regret for having missed important moments.  Metanoia literally translates to “afterthought.”  The ending -noia has long been associated with thought, as it is in “paranoia,” which are thoughts that don’t reflect reality.

Example: I experienced a moment of metanoia when I decided my opinion of myself mattered more than that of others.

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Word of the Week – May 14, 2022

Parol

[pə-ROL]

Adjective

Old French, 15th century

Given or expressed orally; (of a document) agreed orally, or in writing but not under seal.

“Parol” is borrowed from the Old French “parole,” meaning spoken words.  (In modern French, the plural “paroles” refers to song lyrics.)  Both are based on the Latin “parabola,” which is the basis for the English term “parable,” an allegorical tale. In English, “parole” means the release of a prisoner temporarily, or on promise of good behavior.  These arrangements are now recorded in writing, but the Old French root “parole” literally means “word.”  Dropping the “e,” “parol” is used in the legal context to distinguish information delivered orally rather than in sealed, official writing.

Example: I described much of my previous work experience parol, while on a Zoom conference.

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Word of the Week – May 7, 2022

Monopsony

[mə-NAHP-sə-nee]

Noun

Greek, 1930s

Economics – a market situation in which there is only one buyer.  From the Greek suffix “mono” meaning “one” and the Greek “opsōnein,” meaning “buy provisions.”  Monopsony can be easily mistaken with “monopoly,” but they have somewhat inverse definitions.  While a “monopsony” is a fiscal condition in which there is only one buyer of a good or service, a “monopoly” is a situation in which there is only one producer of a good or service.  Economic theory proposes that monopsonies can lead to lower wages for workers because they are paid less than their marginal revenue product.

Example: Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter is proof the ultra-rich have been granted a monopsony over the media by the U.S. Congress.

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Word of the Week – April 30, 2022

Pervicacity

[per-vi-KA-si-tee]

Noun

Latin, 17th century

The quality or state of being pervicacious. Obstinacy; stubbornness; willfulness; from the Latin “pervicacitas,” meaning obstinacy.

Example: My individual pervicacity compels me to write, no matter my circumstances.

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Word of the Week – April 23, 2022

Eidetic

[i-DED-ik]

Adjective

Greek, 1920s

Relating to or denoting mental images having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible.  Though based on the Ancient Greek “εἰδητικός” (meaning “constituting an appearance”), the word was only coined in the early 1900s by German psychologist Erich Rudolf Jaensch who used the term “eidetisch” to describe the particular precision of mental images that were different from and far clearer than regular memories.

“Eidetic” is often used interchangeably with “photographic” to describe the capacity for incredibly detailed and precise memories, but there is a difference between the two terms.  Photographic memory usually describes the ability to recall detailed information (including texts and numbers), while “eidetic memory” describes an ability to maintain a vivid picture of something after it is gone, even experiencing a feeling of the image still being present.

Example: Memories of my recently-departed friend have been occurring with eidetic clarity.

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