Word of the Week

An unusual word is taught every week, complete with pronunciation and definition.

My Word! October 18

Hylophagoushy·loph·a·gousAdjectiveEating wood, or wood eating.The most famous hylophagous insect is the termite.I am sure there is some sort of a fascinating history for this word somewhere, but since it is undoubtedly a combination of Latin and/or Greek, why bother?

My Word! October 4

FLEERFlirVerbTo laugh or grimace in a coarse derisive mannerThe ogre expressed his contempt when he fleered at the one-legged knight challenging him.This one was appropriated from an old Scandinavian word flire (meaning to giggle) by the English, who transmuted it into the Middle English fleryen. By the 15th century it further devolved into the verb…

Word of the Week has been on a brief hiatus, and to mark my return, I thought I would see just how ridiculous a word I could find. So I present to you:Spectrohelioscopespec·tro·he·lio·scope NounAn instrument for viewing solar disc in light of a single wavelengthTonight’s episode of the “Big Bang Theory” revolved around Penny breaking…

My Word! May 5

Nyctalopianyc·ta·lo·piaNounNight blindnessI hate driving at night since I suffer from nyctalopia.Nyctalopia has been in use in English since 1684. You didn’t think I could keep coming up with words that have their origins in Latin, did you? Nyctalopia comes from Latin word nyctalops, which means “suffering from night blindness.” But this time the Latin word…

My Word! April 28

Mundungusmun·dun·gusNounA foul smelling tobaccoWhenever Jerry wanted his guests to go home he would fill his pipe with mundungus and then light up.In English mundungus goes back to 1641 and was modified from the Spanish word, mondongo, meaning tripe.

My Word! April 21

LemanLe-manNounA lover or paramour, usually a mistress.Anne Bolynn was a leman before she was Queen.Leman dates back to the 13th century and comes from a Middle English word. Strangely enough, the Middle English origin is reported as the word leman.

My Word! April 14

Knitchˈnich, kəˈnNounA bundle of wood tied together, a fagotIt was going to be a cold night, so Harry brought another knitch over to the campfire.I could not find when we first started using the word knitch, but it does actually come from the Middle English word knytche, knucche. So where did it come from before…

My Word! March 29

IncongruousAdjectivein·con·gru·ous1: lacking congruity: such asa: not harmonious b: not conforming c: inconsistent within itselfd: lacking propriety The roller coaster was an incongruous sight at the Renaissance Fair.Incongruous is a spin-off of its antonym, congruous, which means “in agreement, harmony, or correspondence.” Both words trace to the Latin verb congruere, meaning “to come together” or “to…

My Word! March 22

HabitatNounHab-i-tat1: the place or environment where a plant or animal naturally or normally lives and/or grows2: the typical place of residence of a person or a group 3: a housing for a controlled physical environment in which people can live under surrounding inhospitable conditions The natural habitat for most Floridians during the months of July…

My Word! March 15

GrimaceNounGri-mace1: a facial expression usually of disgust, disapproval, or painTiger made a painful grimace as the nurse manipulated his leg.As a noun, grimace goes back to 1651 (it did not appear as a verb in English until 1732). We got it from the Middle French grimache. The French word is said to have a Germanic…