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These are the words you could find on this page:
apotheosis, asterisk, august, bamboozle, brand, cantankerous, cataract, caveat, checkered, cocktail, concrete, conflagration, cornucopia, coruscant, cowabunga, crony, day, deja vu, deliquesce, dibs, ebullient, foment, friday, gibe, gusto, high muckamuck, hobby, hurricane, hypocorism, imbroglio, insouciant, jetsam, junta, labret, languor, make no bones about it, monday, mufti, nebula, osprey, paucity, pundit, quintessence, realm, rhetoric, saturnine, slapstick, smog, snack, snollygoster, spitting image, sunday, supercilious, syzygy, tantalize, thursday, tuesday, vermilion / vermillion, wednesday, zany.

Apotheosis [n. ah-pah-thee-OH-sus]
An apotheosis is a perfect example of something. Near synonyms include epitome, quintessence, embodiment, ideal and paragon. Example: "Many fans consider Wayne Gretzky the apotheosis of hockey talent."
Along with its more common contemporary usage referring to something having no equal, apotheosis also describes elevating someone or something to divine status, the rank of a God.
The glorification and exaltation sense of the word is closely tied to its Greek roots. Relying on the Greek words apo- (of or relating to) and theos (god), apotheosis entered the English language in the 17th century.

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Asterisk [n. AS-tuh-risk]
An asterisk is a star-shaped symbol (*) that marks an omission or footnote within text. It also appears on the keypads of telephones as the "star button", where it is used to trigger special dialing functions.
Literally, an asterisk is a small star, reflecting its origin from Late Latin asteriskus, from Greek asteriskos, the diminutive of aster (star).
Here are more "starry" words from Greek aster:
aster: flower with petals radiating like a star
asterism [n. AS-tuh-riz-um]: starlike shape, cluster of stars
asteriated [adj. a-STEER-ee-ay-tid]: showing asterism
asteroid: planetoid (sun-orbiting body that looks starlike)
disaster: catastrophe, grave misfortune (once thought to be caused by ill-omens from the stars)
astriferous (obsolete) [adj. as-TRIF-er-us]: starry

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August [adj. AW-gust or aw-GUST]
Someone of great importance could be described as august. This adjective refers to someone who inspires awe with their majestic dignity or grandeur. Example: "He was proud to be in the august presence of the queen."
Also the name of the eight month in the calendar, august is derived from Augustus, the name of a Roman emperor (63 B.C. - 14 A.D.). His real name was Caius Julius Caesar Octavian but the Senate granted him the honorary title of Augustus in 27 B.C. This state-sanctioned nickname was meant to imply imperial majesty.
In the mid-1600s the word august came into use in English, referring to someone with regal qualities. Near synonyms include lofty, noble, splendid, revered, venerable and grand.

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Bamboozle [vb. bam-BOO-zul]
To deceive or cheat by cunning is to bamboozle. Example: "The salesman bamboozled the woman into buying a junk car."
Other underhanded methods that are near synonyms to bamboozle include dupe, hoodwink, snow, betray, lead astray, fool and swindle.
The origins of this slang expression are as confused as the word itself. Perhaps it is of Scottish origin. There was a 17th century Scottish verb bombaze (to perplex). Bamboozle first appeared in the early 1700s. In 1710 it was on Jonathan Swift's list of the latest buzzwords (others included bully, mob and sham).

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Brand [n., v. BRAND]
A brand is a trademark or name that identifies a particular company. It can also be a distinctive mark of ownership permanently made on the hide of an animal, or it can be a piece of burning wood. To brand someone or something is to mark it permanently, often with an implication of disgrace or infamy.
Originally a brand was a burning wooden stick, from an ancient root that also led to the modern words burn, brandy, and broil. Later, a brand was a red-hot iron tool used to permanently mark animals. This kind of brand led to the adjective phrase "brand new" that first described a cast-metal object just created, hot out of the forge.
Today, the world is awash in corporate brand names. The use of the word for corporate names sprang from the dozens of unique livestock brands used by the cattle ranches of the western USA in the late 1800s.

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Cantankerous [adj. kan-TANG-ker-us]
Someone who is cantankerous is ill-tempered, quarrelsome, disagreeable, or otherwise hard to deal with. The word can also describe animals, cars, computers, substances, or anything else that can be difficult to handle. Example: "I love all of Elaine's pets except Buddy, a cantankerous tom cat who snarls and spits whenever I come around."
Although this word has been used since the 1770s, no one seems sure where it came from. The most plausible theory relates it to the Middle English word contekour (brawler, fighter), from conteck (contention, strife). Perhaps contekour led to conteckerous, which might then have been influenced by rancorous (spiteful) and cankerous (carrying or spreading corruption).
Another theory relates the word to the Irish cannran (strife, grumbling).

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Cataract [n. Kat-uh-rakt]
A cataract can be a large or high waterfall or a great, gushing deluge of water. It can also be a white or translucent obstruction in the eye that impairs vision or causes blindness. How did these two very different meanings evolve?
This word's history begins with the Greek kataraktes (that which rushes or swoops down), from kata- (down) and rassein (to strike or smash). Other words from kata- include catalogue, catalepsy, and catapult. The first uses of cataract in English referred to waterfalls, swooping birds, and the portcullis or gate of a castle, which was lowered along vertical tracks.
No one knows exactly how the cloudy visual obstructions came to be called cataracts, but one theory relates them to castle gates, which may appear to come down within the eye, blocking out the light.

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Caveat [n. KA-vee-ot, KA-vee-at, KAH-vee-at or KAE-vee-at]
Something that warns you against doing a certain act or practice could be called a caveat. Near synonyms include: warning, caution, and proviso.
A caveat can also be an added explanation meant to prevent misinterpretation, something that qualifies a more general statement. Example: "She recommended the restaurant with the caveat that the wait for a table could be quite long."
In legal usage a caveat is a formal request to suspend a proceeding until the opposition has a hearing. Caveat emptor is a legal principle meaning "let the buyer beware."
Caveat is derived from the Latin cavere (to be on guard). It first found its way into use in English in 1533. Cavere is also the root word of caution (warning against danger).

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Checkered [adj. CHEH-kerd]
Checkered is used to describe a mix of bad and good parts in a person's past or history. Example: "Jack's checkered financial history made bankers reluctant to give him a loan."
Similar to the alternating squares of colors in the checkered flag of motorsports, something that is checkered has suffered frequent alternations of prosperity and adversity. Near synonyms include varied, irregular, changeful, unsettled, uneven, and turbulent.
Checkered is from the Old French eschequier, a derivative of the noun eschec (source also of the English word for the game chess). It goes back to the vulgar Latin word scaccus (check).

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Cocktail [n. KOK-tayl]
This word for a mixed drink with a spirit base was apparently first used in the early 19th century in America. The word also referred to a horse whose tail had been cocked - that is, cut short so that it sticks up like the tail of a cock.
There is no consensus on the ultimate origin of the word, but there are many stories of how the word came to be applied to mixed drinks. Here's one:
In Culpeper Court House, Virginia, there was an inn named the Cock And Bottle, run by Colonel Carter. The sign swinging by the entrance showed a cock and a bottle, indicating that draft or bottled ale could be had within ("cock" was another name for the draft ale tap).
If the keg was nearly empty, the muddy dregs were called the "cocktail." According to the story, Colonel Carter was once served this "cocktail," and became so angry with its poor quality that he said "hereafter, I will drink cocktails of my own brewing."
Right away, he poured together various ingredients for a new drink, making the first mixed cocktail.

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Concrete [n., adj., v. kon-KREET]
Here's a simple word with a surprisingly complex set of meanings.
Concrete is any of several substances formed by the hardening of mixtures of sand, pebbles, or slag with a cementing material.
As an adjective, the word means relating to an actual, specific thing; really existing; not abstract; or formed by the coming together of many parts into one continuous mass. As a verb, to concrete is to create something made out of concrete, or to form something that is concrete.
Among all the meanings, two themes emerge: solidness with real actual existence, and the coming together of many small parts into a whole. The original meaning related mainly to solidness and reality. It was not until the early 19th century that the word was applied to building material.
The word comes through Old French concret, from Latin concrescere (grow together; harden). That's from com- (together) and crescere (grow). Crescere also gave us crescent (the moon's shape when it is growing), increase, and accrue.

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Conflagration
A conflagration is a large disastrous fire. This very intense, uncontrolled blaze extends to many objects or stretches over a large space. Example: "The conflagration left Rome a smoking, steaming ruin."
This hot noun first appeared in the English language in 1656. It comes from the Latin flagrare (to burn). This same Latin root gives us the contemporary word flagrant (which means burning or blazing and, in another sense, shameless or shocking).
The figurative sense of conflagration describes a sudden, violent event - often a conflict or war involving many people.

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Cornucopia [n. kor-nuh-KO-pee-uh]
A cornucopia of something is an overflowing supply of something or an abundance. Near synonyms include: profusion, richness, and wealth. Example: "Surveying the cornucopia of cakes and cookies, Amy was practically drooling."
Cornucopia was derived in the early 16th century from the Latin cornu copiae (horn of plenty). The first horn of plenty appears in Greek mythology, and is usually associated with Amalthea who suckled the infant Zeus. Amalthea is alternately a nymph who nursed the god with goat's milk or a she-goat who suckled him. In thanks for this service Zeus is said to have offered a horn filled with fruit that would magically replenish itself. This was the horn of plenty.
Cornucopia also describes a cone-shaped ornament used decoratively. It is often shown with fruits or flowers flowing from it to represent abundance.

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Coruscant [adj. kuh-RUS-kunt]
Movie fans may recognize the name of the planet-city in "Star Wars: Episode 1" (although the city's name is pronounced differently). Something that is coruscant is glittering, resplendant, brilliantly shiny or showy, presumably like the imaginary planet-city.
The verb form is more common: to coruscate [v. KOR-uh-skayt] is to glitter brilliantly, or it is to act in a brilliant or showy way. There is also the noun, coruscation [n. kor-uh-SKAY-shun]. All three words are based on the Latin coruscare (to flash).
Coruscation can involve sound or behavior, as well as visual glitter. Example: "When Marilou began to play the violin, glorious liquid notes coruscated through the room." Example: "The highlight of the show was a coruscant tap performance by the Franklin twins."

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Cowabunga [interj. kou-uh-BUNG-guh]
This slang word almost always appears with an exclamation mark. It's an expression of amazement at something really great that has happened. Example: "Cowabunga! What a great wave that was!"
The example relates to one of the ways this word was used in the 1960s, by surfers celebrating good rides on the waves. Today, the word has been taken up and popularized by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bart Simpson, the popular cartoon character.
The word's history began with a character on the old Howdy Doody Show, a children's TV show that aired from 1947 until 1960. One of the characters on the show was Chief Thunderthud, an indian chief who began every line with the nonsense syllable "kawa." When things went well, he said "Kawagoopa!" If things went poorly, he said "Kawabonga!"

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Crony [n. KROE-nee]
A crony is someone whom you have known for a while, a friend of long standing. He or she is someone you expect to know for a good while longer: "Frank Sinatra and his cronies became known as the Rat Pack."
The first known written record of the word is from 1665, in the diary of Samuel Pepys, where it was spelled "chrony." This spelling reflects the word's probable origin, as Cambridge University slang derived from the Greek word khronios (long-lasting), a derivative of khronos (time).
There is also cronyism [KROE-nee-izm], which is favoritism shown to close friends or associates without regard to qualifications. Politicians are sometimes accused of cronyism.
Here are more words about time:
chronic: of long duration or repeated occurrence
chronicle: an extended record of events, in time order
chronograph: an instrument that records time intervals
chronological: arranged in time order
chronoscope: an optical instrument to measure small time intervals
synchronous: occurring or existing at the same time

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Day [n. DAY]
One day is a single 24-hour period that begins and ends at midnight. Day is also the portion of that 24-hour period during which the sun is in the sky, and it can also be a past time interval during which some situation existed. Example: "In the day of the telegraph, life moved more slowly."
Humans have been experiencing days as long as there have been humans, and as you might expect the word is extremely ancient. Old English daeg came from the ancient root agh-, with meanings relating to heat and burning. That ancient root also led to Sanskrit dah (burn) and nidagha (heat, summertime). From the same root also came our words today, daisy ("flower of the day"), and dawn.

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Deja Vu [n. DAY-zha VOO]
If it seems like you've read this phrase before, you may be experiencing the odd, slightly surreal sensation of deja vu. It's the illusion that what you are currently experiencing has been experienced before, even though you are actually experiencing it for the first time. The phrase is French: deja (already) and vu (seen).
Deja vu happens unexpectedly, and is usually a fleeting experience. No one knows exactly how or why it happens, but some researchers are studying it, hoping to learn more about consciousness. Different kinds of deja vu experience have been identified, including deja vecu (already experienced) and deja senti (already felt).
The opposite of deja vu is jamais vu (never seen), in which a familiar situation seems to be experienced for the first time. This equally odd, surreal experience can happen to people who temporarily lose their memory.

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Deliquesce [v. del-ih-KWES]
To deliquesce can be to melt away, or to disappear as if by melting. In chemistry, to deliquesce is to become liquid by absorbing water from the air, as certain salts can do. In botany, a tree's branches deliquesce if they divide into many small stems without a main trunk, and there are mushrooms that deliquesce by dissolving into liquid when they are mature.
Something that deliquesces is deliquescent [adj. del-ih-KWES-unt]. In all these senses of deliquescence [n. del-ih-KWES-uns] there is a melting or dissolving, or a loss of central form.
The second half of this word is derived from Latin liquescere (to\ melt). The prefix de- often means "the opposite of," but in this case it has the less common meaning "out of." So to deliquesce is to melt or lose form by releasing liquid.

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Dibs [n. DIBZ]
"I've got dibs on that!" is a phrase used sometimes by people who want to "stake a claim" on some desirable property. Usually the implied sense is something like "I saw it first, so it's mine." But what are dibs (always plural), and why does having them mean you get to claim something? This word is one of the mysteries of the English language.
This word's recent history only goes back to 1932, when it seems to have popped into the language without warning. Where did it come from? Some sources refer to the old game of dibs or dibstones, the ancestor of today's game of jacks. This game is truly ancient, going back as far as classical Rome, where it was called pentalithia (five stones).
The difficulty with this relationship is that it does not explain how the name of a stone-tossing game turned into the odd expression in use today. No one seems to know the whole story of the mysterious dibs.

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Ebullient [adj. ih-BUL-yunt, ih-BOOL-yunt]
Someone who is ebullient is zestfully enthusiastic, positively bubbling over with joyful exuberance. A liquid can also be ebullient if it is bubbling and boiling. Example: "Jerry was ebullient for days after winning the office football pool."
The original sense of this word applied only to bubbling liquids. It's from the Latin ebullire (to bubble out), which is a compound of ex- (out) and bullire (to boil). In the late 1500s the word could have described a pot of boiling water or a bubbling spring, but later the meaning broadened to include the emotional "boiling" that accompanies joyful excitement.
A related word is ebullition [n. eb-uh-LISH-un] (the state of boiling, or a sudden, violent emotional outburst).

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Foment [v. foe-MENT]
To foment is to promote the growth of something, or in a political context to incite activity, possibly of a violent nature. One can also foment an injured or diseased portion of the body by applying warm liquids to it. Example: "My cousin Jim was accused of fomenting a riot in the council chambers."
When this word entered English from Old French, it applied only in the medical sense. The root was Latin fomentum, a contraction of fovementum, which was based on fovere (to warm).
From the application of moist heat (possibly through the use of lotions or even hot wax) came the idea of stimulation, originally of growth or healing. But political stimulation can lead to action and even violence, and it is that sense of fomentation that is most often used today.

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Friday [n. FRY-day]
We continue our tour of the days of the week with Friday, traditionally the sixth day of the week, and the last day of the five day work week.
Friday was known in Old English as Frigedaeg (Frigg's Day), after Frigg, the wife of Odin and the goddess of the hearth and married love. The source of her name was prehistoric Germanic frijaz (noble), which was also the source of English free.
The Romans called the day Veneris Dies, after Venus, their own goddess of love. The Greeks before them also named the day after a goddess of love, calling it hemera Aphrodites (day of Aphrodite). The Latin name for the day led to modern French Vendredi. The Russians, true to their pragmatic form, call the day Pyatnitsa (five).

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Gibe
To make an insulting remark intended to hurt someone is to gibe. Near synonyms include mock, deride, scorn, scoff, taunt and tease. Example: "Alice wanted to get back at Judy so she gibed her about being awkward."
Although it's unlikely that everyone was playing nice before the mid- 16th century, English speakers didn't call it gibing until then. It's unclear how the word entered our vocabulary although it is perhaps derived from the Middle French giber (to shake, handle roughly).
This noun version of the word describes the rude comment itself. Near synonyms include quip, crack, dig, slam or barb.

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Gusto
Doing something with gusto is doing it with great energy and enthusiasm. It describes eager enjoyment or keen appreciation for something. Example: "We ate and drank with gusto once the banquet was served."
Gusto originally meant taste. In 1620 it was borrowed from the Italian, which comes from the Latin gustus (taste). It evolved from simply describing an affection for a certain food to mean a keen fancy for food, drink or other pleasures. Near synonyms include relish, enthusiasm and zest.
The Latin root gustus also flavors the words ingustable (can't be tasted) and pregustation (tasting before another does).

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High Muckamuck [n. hy-muk-uh-muk]
A high muckamuck is someone who is not only in a position of authority, but who also wants to make sure that you know he or she is an important person. It's almost always used in a derogatory fashion: "That bothersome Mr. Featherwhistle thinks he's the high muckamuck of the Bridge Club."
The expression has its origin in Alaska, back around the mid-1800s. In the Chinook pidgin language, which borrowed from English, French, Nootka, Chinook, and Salishan, there was a phrase "hayo mackamack" (plenty to eat). We have the phrase in written form from 1853 in its original meaning, and from 1856 to mean a pompous, self-important person.
In those difficult days in the Alaskan wilderness, a person with plenty to eat was probably a fairly well-to-do individual, and an important person to know.

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Hobby [n. HOB-ee]
If you have a hobby, then there's something you do for fun, outside of your work: "Joe's hobby is constructing model airplanes."
In medieval England, a hobbyhorse was originally a small horse or pony, similar to Hob's horse. Who was Hob? Hob was a pet name for Robert or Robin, and the best known Robin was Robin Hood.
In later times, there were the Morris Dances, frolics that often incorporated characters from the Robin Hood legends, with wicker and cloth horses as part of the costumes. These hobbyhorses later evolved into children's playthings, usually just a horse's head on a stick.
Still later, the phrase "to ride a hobbyhorse" came to mean the pursuit of childish pleasures with adult passion. Then the latter half of the word dropped away, and the meaning changed to reflect an activity that is just for fun.

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Hurricane [n. HUR-ih-kane]
A hurricane is a cyclonic (rotating) tropical storm with winds at the center in excess of 74 miles per hour. Such storms can happen in most tropical areas of the world, but they are only called hurricanes if they originate in the tropical regions of the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.
According to several sources, when European voyagers first encountered these very severe storms, they borrowed a native Caribbean word, hurakan, to name them. The word is from the Taino language, derived from hura (wind). But an alternate story is that the word comes from the name of the Mayan god of winds, Hunraken. Perhaps the two derivations are related?
Similar storms in the Indian Ocean are called tropical cyclones, from Greek kuklos (circle). In the Northwest Pacific, they are typhoons, from chinese tai fung (great wind).
In each area, the storms are given proper names, alphabetically in the order in which they appear. The practice of naming severe tropical storms was started by an Australian weatherman, Clement Wragge. Also known as "Wet Wragge," he gave the worst storms the names of people with whom he had quarrels.

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Hypocorism [n. hy-POK-uh-riz-um]
If your name is Michael, but people call you Mike (or Mikey), then they are practicing hypocorism. A hypocorism is a pet name or a nickname, and hypocorism is also the use of such a name.
From its origins, the word means "a secret caress." Late Latin had hypocorisma, from Greek hupokorizesthai (to call by endearing names). This was from hypo- (beneath, in secret) and korizesthai (caress), which was based on koros (adolescent boy) and kore (adolescent girl).
The prefix hypo- has been incorporated in lots of other secret or beneath words, including these:
hypocrisy: to pretend a belief while secretly believing otherwise
hypobaric: less than normal atmospheric pressure
hypocenter: the surface point directly beneath an aerial nuclear blast
hypoglossal: under the tongue
hypolimnion: the cold, bottom layer of a lake

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Imbroglio
An imbroglio is a confused, often embarrassing, state of affairs. Perplexing entanglements or bitter disagreements are also imbroglios. Example: "Jeff had no idea how he ended up in this imbroglio but knew it would take a great deal of explaining to get out of it."
A near synonym of imbroglio is embroilment, which shares the same roots. Imbroglio is an Italian word borrowed by the English in the mid-18th century from the verb imbrogliare (to entangle). This was a variant on the French verb embrouiller which developed from the conjunction of the Middle French en- and brouiller (to broil).
Imbroglio can also mean a confused heap or tangle.

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Insouciant [adj. in-SOO-see-unt, an-soos-YAHN]
If you are insouciant, then you are casual and unconcerned, nonchalant and lighthearted. Example: "Everyone was impressed by Fred's insouciant manner as he dealt with one difficult decision after another."
One near synonym for insouciant is untroubled, which is exactly what insouciant means in French. The word came across in the 1700s, accompanied by its cousin insouciance [n. in-SOO-see-uns, an-soos- YAHNS] (lighthearted unconcern). The French got the word from Latin sollicitare (to vex or disturb), from sollicitus (anxious, agitated). This was a compound of sollus (whole) and citus (moved), so the exact meaning was "completely moved."
Other words from the same root include these:
solicit: to entreat or seek out; to approach with an offer
solicit (obsolete): to fill with anxiety
solicitous: anxious or concerned; extremely careful
solicitude: care, concern, or anxiety

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Jetsam [n. JET-suhm]
Anything that sinks and remains underwater after being thrown overboard to lighten a ship in distress is called jetsam. The discarded or abandoned objects can include cargo, ship parts, or equipment.
Jetsam came to be used in the late 16th century. It was a variation on jetson, a contraction of the Middle English jetteson (throw something overboard) which was derived from the Latin jactare (throw).
Jetsam is often used in conjunction with flotsam. This word's buoyant roots help distinguish it from jetsam since it originates in the Old French floter (to float). Flotsam is cargo that floats on water after a shipwreck.
Lagan (Old French from the root of lie, lay) is cargo that sinks when thrown overboard but that is marked with a buoy for later retrieval.

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Junta [n. HOON-tuh, JUNE-tuh or HUHN-tuh]
A council or committee of people joined for political or government purposes is a junta. This noun is also commonly used to describe a group of people who control a government after a revolutionary seizure of power. Example: "The ruling military junta had imposed a curfew on the citizens."
Junta was widely used in the 1600s to refer to numerous government and consultative committees. It is a variant of the Spanish junto (joined) which is derived from the Latin junctus. Junctus is a past participle of jungere (to join). Jungere is also the source of the English word yoke (a wooden bar or frame used to join two animals to work together) and junction (a place where two things meet).

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Labret [n. LAY-brit]
A labret is an ornament that passes through a pierced upper or lower lip. The word originally referred to stone or gold ornaments worn by African or South American natives, but today labrets are becoming popular as fashion accessories in some social groups.
Labret comes from the Latin labrum (lip) with the -et ending (something worn, from Latin -ittum). The word lip is also derived from labrum, and labrum is also a modern word, meaning a liplike structure such as the outer mouth of a snail shell.
There is also labretifery [n. lah-brih-TIF-uh-ree], which is the practice of wearing a labret, made by adding the unusual suffix -ifery, derived from Latin ferre (to carry). A word with the related suffix -fer is aquifer (water carried in underground rock strata).

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Languor
Considering the sluggish nature of the word languor, it is somewhat surprising that this noun does double duty.
One sense of the word describes weakness, a listless inertia. Near synonyms include lethargy, feebleness, lassitude and weariness. Example: "Pete had been plagued by languor following his bout with the flu."
This idle noun also has another more positive meaning. Languor can refer to the relaxed comfortable feeling of losing yourself in reverie.
Weary English speakers started using the word languor in the 14th century. The Middle English had its roots in the Latin word languere.
Languish (to suffer neglect), languid (listless) and languorous (tending to produce languor) all share the same Latin origins.

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Make No Bones About It
To make no bones about something is to get right to the point, to express yourself simply and directly. "She made no bones about it, saying just that it was time to sell the stock." To make no bones is to be straightforward and candid.
There is some controversy about how the phrase got started. The most popular theories are:
Stew theory: when you make a stew, if you don't include the bones, then the stew is simpler. To make no bones is to "create a simpler stew" by speaking plainly and directly.
Dice theory: when gamblers roll the dice (also known as bones), they might make various good luck gestures, including blowing on them, waving the hands about, or tapping them on the table. To make no bones might be to roll the dice without any kind of fanfare, to just toss them out and see what comes up.

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Monday [n. MUN-day]
"Cool Words" begins a tour of the seven-day week with Monday.
Traditionally, Monday is the second day of the week, when everyone goes back to work, presumably renewed by the quiet, restful weekend just completed.
The Anglo Saxon name for the day was Monan daeg (day of the moon), which was a translation of the Latin Dies Lunae, itself a translation of the Greek hemera Selenes (day of Selene). Modern words for this day are similar in many languages. In German we have Montag, Dutch and Swedish have Maandag, and in Danish it's Mandag.
The romance languages acquired the Latin term more directly. In French, the day is Lundi. Italian has Lunedi, while in Spanish it's Lunes. In Rumanian it's Luni. In Russian, Monday is known as Ponedel'nik ("the day after Sunday," or "after do-nothing day").

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Mufti [n. MUF-tee]
Most commonly in British English, mufti is a collective noun for ordinary, civilian clothing worn by someone like a policeman or soldier who wears a uniform when on duty. But a mufti can also be a Moslem scholar who is legally empowered to interpret the religious law (sharia) and issue rulings (fatwa). How do these two meanings relate to each other?
Originally, only the Moslem scholars were called muftis. When soldiers in the British army stationed in the middle east would go off duty, they jokingly related their casual civilian clothing, which in those days often consisted of a dressing gown, slippers, and smoking cap, to the similar Oriental robes of the muftis.
The Arabic word mufti is from the same root as fatwa. In Arabic, word roots are based on the consonants only, in this case f-t-w.

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Nebula [n. NEB-yoo-luh], pl. nebulae [NEB-yoo-lee]
To an astronomer, a nebula is a diffuse cloud of dust or gas that floats between stars. Most stars are born within nebulae. To a doctor, a nebula is either a cloudy spot in the eye or in the urine, or it is a medication that is applied by spraying.
All of these senses of nebula have to do with clouds. The word comes from the Latin nebula (cloud), and related words include these:
nebulize: convert to a fine spray; atomize
nebulous: cloudy; formless; like a nebula
nebulosity: something that is nebulous; the condition of being nebulous
nebulochaotic [adj. NEB-yoo-low-kay-AW-tik]: hazily confused
nebulaphobia [n. neb-yoo-luh-FOE-bee-uh]: fear of fog
The ancient root was nebh- (cloud), which also gave rise to Old English nifol (dark), Germnan Nebel (cloud), and Latvian debess (sky).

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Osprey [n. OS-pree]
An osprey is a handsome, brown and white fish-eating hawk (Pandion haliaetus), or it is a feather plume once used to trim women's hats.
It might seem likely that the bird's name has something to do with prey. One of the word's two sources contributed this sense, but its evolution was also influenced by another lineage.
The most direct source is the Latin avis praedae (bird of prey), which entered French as ospreit. Latin avis (bird) was also the source of various "flying" words including aviary and aviation, while praeda was the source of English prey.
The second source was a confusion with a large vulture called osfraie in Old French. Its name came from Latin ossifraga (bone breaker), a reference to its habit of dropping its prey from a great height onto rocks.

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Paucity [n. PAW-suh-tea]
Having a paucity of something is not having enough of it. This noun can refer to a smallness of number or quantity but always means a lack. Example: "We guessed from the paucity of details available that the police were still investigating."
Near synonyms include dearth, scarcity, shortage, deficiency, and scantiness. Paucity entered Middle English from the Old French paucite which was derived from the Latin paucus (few).
The pau- root has also given us the following words:
pauper: someone who has no financial means
pauperize: ruin
poor: penniless
few: scant

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Pundit [n. PUN-dit]
A pundit is someone who is highly learned, a scholar, critic, or authority. The learned statements of a pundit may be called punditry [n. PUN-dit-ree]. Example: "With the election too close to call and the mud-slinging at a fever pitch, the pundits are having a field day trying to predict the outcome."
The ancient Sanskrit adjective panditah (highly respected; learned) may have come from an even more ancient Dravidian origin. In Hindi, someone of great knowledge and wisdom was addressed with the title of Pandit. In the 1600s, the word crossed over into English as a noun, referring to a scholar or sage.
Today, the word's meaning has shifted slightly, so that a pundit may be someone whose wisdom and knowledge are somewhat in doubt. To be called a pundit today sometimes involves a small amount of sarcasm about one's alleged authority.

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Quintessence [n. kwin-TES-uns]
The quintessence of something is its purest, most fundamental essence: "The pudding's flavor was accented by the tangy quintessence of lemon." It can also be the most typical or characteristic instance of a thing: "His performance was the quintessence of wry sarcasm."
In medieval alchemy (the pseudo-scientific precursor to modern chemistry), there were four fundamental "essences," something like today's chemical elements: earth, water, air, and fire.
It was thought that in addition, there must be a fifth essence, more subtle and pervasive. Aristotle called it "aither", and another Greek term for it was pempte ousia (fifth essence). The Latin name for the same essence was quinta essentia, which made its way through French into English, where it took on the modern meaning.
The five alchemical essences did not turn out to be the simplest elements of material reality, but the name of the elusive fifth essence survives.

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Realm [n. RELM]
A realm can be a kingdom, ruled by a monarch: "King James toured his entire realm." A realm can also be an area of discourse, such as "the realm of calculus."
This word is a hybrid, made of two words which merged in Old French.
The original root was the Latin regimen (system of government). That root also gave us many other governing and regulating words, including rector, regime, regiment, regular, regulate, rule, rank, and dozens more.
In Old French, regimen was combined with reial (royal), giving realme (a government by hereditary monarchy). Reial was itself derived from Latin rex (king), which emerged from the same Indo-European root as regimen.
So realm is a result of recombining of two words that branched from the same root.

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Rhetoric [n. RET-ur-ik]
Rhetoric is the art of speaking or writing effectively, often persuasively. Example: "The presidential candidates rely on rhetoric to woo the voting public."
The word comes from the Greek rhetor, which referred to an orator or public speaker. In the 5th century B.C., the Greeks pled their court cases publicly to their peers. The ancients formulated particular rules that informed their students' efforts to communicate persuasively.
During the Renaissance, rhetoric came to be associated solely with style of delivery - the performance became more important than the content. Today, the negative sense describes language that is elaborate and insincere. There are, however, contemporary academics who have reclaimed the rules of rhetoric, using them to train students to speak and write well.

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Saturnine [adj. SAT-ur-nyn]
Someone who is saturnine might be sad, gloomy, melancholy, sullen, morose, sour, surly, sardonic, and slow to shift moods. Such a personality is like that of someone born when the planet Saturn was rising, according to the ancient Romans.
The Romans had Saturnus, ruler of the planet Saturn and god of agriculture, who was a stern, serious old man, bent and time-worn. From the adjective saturninus (of Saturnus) came English saturnine. There are also the saturniid moths [adj. sat-UR-nee-id], which are large, often quite colorful, and increasingly rare.
There was also the Saturnalia, an ancient Roman seven-day festival in midwinter. The Saturnalia festivals were times of unrestrained celebrations and revelry, a distinct contrast to the dour, melancholy nature of the god in whose honor the festivals were held.

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Slapstick [n. SLAP-stik]
Slapstick is a boisterous, crude form of comedy marked by practical jokes, chases, and simple physical humor. It requires little or no dialog, being based mostly on simple sight gags. The genre was popular in the days of silent film. Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and the Keystone Kops were masters of the form.
Slapstick comedy gets its name from a prop that originally was used in the 16th century Italian "commedia dell'arte." It was a long, flexible wooden stick with a hinged part that made a sharp cracking noise when it was used to strike someone.
The wooden device was called a slapstick in English as early as 1896. The first known use of the word to refer to the entire genre of physical comedy was in 1926. Since then, the physical prop has gone out of use, but the style of comedy still bears its name.

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Smog [n. SMOG]
That ugly brown layer of smog that hangs over some cities is composed of auto exhaust, industrial emissions, and possibly some fog as well. Smog is a combination word, from smoke and fog. Who was the first to use the word?
The earliest record of the word's usage in America is in a 1923 headline by Hubbard Keavy, a Des Moines, Iowa newspaper man. It is reported that he had never heard he word before, but "created" it for himself when he realized he did not have space to write "smoke and fog".
The word was certainly in use before 1923 however. In 1905 we have the first known use of the word, in a London Newspaper report of a meeting of the Public Health Congress. It describes a paper by Dr. H. A. des Voeux, using the word to describe London's chronic air pollution.
Today, London's air is much cleaner. But other cities, such as Mexico City, sometimes experience extremely dangerous "smog days."

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Snack [n. SNAK]
A snack is a small meal, just a bite to eat: "You can have a snack around three,but don't eat very much or you'll spoil your dinner!"
Originally, snack meant bite, as in the closing of jaws. It is recorded as early as 1513, in Gavin Douglas's Aeneid. The meaning of "a quick meal" did not emerge until the 18th century.
Snack is related to the similar-sounding words snatch and snap. All three words have to do with biting, seizing, and grabbing. The immediate root of snack is Middle English snak, from snacchen (to trap or bite). The same root led to snatch in English, and to Middle Dutch snappen (to seize), which led to snap in English.
Meanwhile, the Middle Dutch word snaps (gulp, mouthful) emerged from snappen, and was borrowed by German as schnapps (gin-like drink), which also migrated into English.

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Snollygoster [n. SNOL-ee-gos-ter]
A snollygoster is an unscrupulous, unprincipled person. A politician who is perceived as acting without moral and ethical principles or who seems only interested in self-advancement might be called a snollygoster.
When President Truman said the word meant "a man born out of wedlock," a debate on the meaning of the word began on the wire services, ending with the conclusion that a snollygoster is "a fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform, or principles."
The word has also been used by lobster fishermen in the northeastern US. To them, a snollygoster is a particularly severe storm, one strong enough to blow away children and poultry (see the origins, below).
Whatever the exact meaning of this seldom-heard word, its origin is probably an alteration of snallygaster, a mythical beast said to prey on poultry and children. That's probably from the Pennsylvania Dutch schnelle geeschter (fast spirit), which is from Middle High German snel (fast, quick) and geist (ghost, spirit).

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Spitting image [n. SPIT-ing IM-udg]
The exact likeness of something or someone is its spitting image. Near synonyms include look alike, dead ringer, and doppelganger. Example: "He is the spitting image of his grandfather."
Spitting image was first used in its current form in 1925. It was an informal expression that is believed to have originated from the 19th century saying "spit and image." The origin of this phrase is the subject of much debate.
Some suggest it refers to the idea that a person couldn't be more similar if they had been spit from the original's mouth. Another possibility is that spit is a shortening of the word spirit, which the look alikes must have shared. A third option traces the expression to voodoo magic in which a sample of a person's saliva (spit) and a doll resembling the person (image) were needed to cast spells and curses.

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Sunday [n. SUN-day]
We conclude our tour of the days of the week with Sunday, traditionally the first day of the week. For many modern Christians, it's the Sabbath, a day of rest, although in ancient times the sabbath happened on Saturday.
Old English sunnandaeg was based on Latin Dies Solis (Sun's Day), translated from the Greek hemera Helio (day of the Sun). The Latin name has carried into many languages. In German it's Sonntag, and in Dutch it's Zondag. Swedish and Danish both have Sondag, but with different diacritical marks. In Welsh the day is Dydd Sul.
The Romance languages changed the focus. In French it's Dimanche (Lord's Day) and the Spanish translation of that is Domingo. The Russians call the day Voskresenye (Resurrection).

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Supercilious [adj. soo-pur-SIL-ee-yus]
If you are supercilious, then you are feeling or showing haughty disdain. You might also be condescending, highfalutin, hoity-toity, contemptuous, or arrogant: "Judy was taken aback by Professor Cheswick's supercilious rejection of her carefully considered answer."
Supercilious is one of a large class of super- words which imply "aboveness." In this case, it means "above the eyelid," because -cilious comes from the Latin cilium (eyelid), source of the biological term cilium (hairlike appendage).
What is above the eyelid? The eyebrow! The word refers to the haughty lifting of the eyebrow, a frequent accompaniment of superciliousness.
Here are some other interesting super- words:
superciliary: relating to the eyebrow
superconductivity: electric conductance with zero resistance
superfluid: a liquid with zero viscosity (resistance to flow)
superable: possible to overcome, surmountable
supererogate: to do more than required, "above and beyond the call of duty"

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Syzygy [n. SIZ-uh-jee]
The most common meaning of syzygy is the precise conjunction or opposition of celestial bodies: "The sun, moon, and earth are in syzygy when they all form a straight line." Syzygy also refers to a certain combination of metrical structures in classical verses.
The word comes (through Latin) from Greek suzugia (union), from suzugos (paired), which is a combination of sun- (together) and zugon (yoke), from zugoun (to join).
The Greek prefix sun- was a prolific lexical root. Together with stellein (to send), it gave us systaltic (muscles rhythmically contracting, to pump blood). With histanai (set up; establish) it formed system (parts working together as a whole).
The sun- prefix also evolved into syn- and sym-, which form parts of many other "together" words, including syndrome, synchrony, sympatric, sympathy, symphony, symmetry, symbol, synthesis, syntax, synonym, synergy, syndicate, and many more.

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Tantalize [v. TAN-tuh-lyz]
To tantalize someone is to excite them by showing or offering something desirable, but keeping it out of reach. "The hungry kids were tantalized by the cakes behind the glass."
Tantalus "the sufferer" was a mythical Greek king, one of the sons of Zeus, who was condemned for his crimes to a deep abyss called Tartarus. There, he was forced to stand in clear, fresh water that receded whenever he tried to take a drink. Delicious fruit hung over his head, but it lifted away whenever he reached for it.
Other words named after the suffering King Tantalus include the tantalus, which is a kind of liquor cabinet. It can be locked, but it has a glass front, so the bottles it contains can be seen but not obtained.

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Thursday [n. THURZ-day]
Continuing Cool Word's tour of the days, with Thursday, the fifth day of the traditional seven day week.
Thursday was originally called Dies Iovis (Jupiter's Day) in Latin, a name still reflected in some modern languages like French, in which the day is called Jeudi. The Latin name, a translation of the Greek hemera Dios (day of Zeus) honored Jove, the supreme Roman god of the sky and master of the planet Jupiter.
The Latin name was replaced by the Germanic people with a name honoring their own sky god, Thor, the god of thunder. From Germanic Thonaras daga came Old English Thunresdaeg and modern English Thursday, as well as German Donnerstag. Thor's old name also gave us modern English thunder.

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Tuesday [n. TOOZ-day]
"Cool Words" continues our tour of days with Tuesday, which is traditionally the third day of the seven day week. For many people, Tuesday is the most productive day of the week, when we are still relatively fresh and energetic yet fully involved in the week's activities.
Fittingly for such an active, productive day, the Romans called it Dies Martis (day of Mars, the war god), translating from the Greek hemera Areos (day of Ares).
The Germanic cultures borrowed the custom of naming days after gods but used Tiu, their own god of war and the sky, naming the day Tiwesdaeg (Tiu's day). Tiu was derived from the same root as Latin deus (god), which also gave us English diety. Swedish Tisdag and Danish Tirsdag also reflect this origin.
In Russian, this day is called vtornik, which simply means "second day."

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Vermilion / Vermillion [n. ver-MIL-yun]
The color vermilion is bright red, also known as chinese red or cinnabar. There is also the pigment vermilion, which is bright red mercuric sulfide, also called cinnabar.
Another word for bright red color is vermeil, a word imported from Old French that happens to also be a root of vermilion. That word came out of Latin, from vermiculus (a little worm), the diminutive of vermis (worm).
How did a little worm lead to redness? The worm in question was the red larva of a kind of insect (Coccus ilicis) that was used to create red dye. This insect, the kermes (oak tree) scale, passed its name into Spanish as cremesin, which later passed into English as another red color name, crimson.

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Wednesday [n. WENZ-day]
We continue "Cool Word"s tour of the days with Wednesday, the fourth day of the traditional seven day week.
Wednesday is the middle day of the five day working week, and as such it is casually called "hump day," the day we "get over the hump" and begin coasting into the weekend. In German, Wednesday is called mitwoch (mid-week). The Russians call it sreda (center).
As with Tuesday, the Germanic people renamed the original Roman day, substituting their own god. The Romans called the day Dies Mercurii (Mercury's Day), after the god of quickness and eloquence, translating from the Greek hemera Hermu (Day of Hermes). The Germanic name was Wodnesdaeg, after Woden, a god who was also quick and eloquent. In Dutch it's Woensdag, and in Swedish it's Onsdag.

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Zany [adj. ZAY-nee]
If you are zany, then you are bizarre, ludicrously comical, clownish: "Those zany Marx Brothers are at it again!" The word was first used as a noun, to refer to someone prone to outlandish, comical behavior.
The first zanies were characters in the Italian comedia dell'arte in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The zanni was a buffoon who feebly attempted to mimic the behavior of another character, usually a clown.
Why were such buffoons called zanni? Zanni was a Venetian variant for the name Gianni, a familiar form of Giovanni (which in English is the name John), and Giovanni was the generic name of these characters in the comedia.

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