A daily word, its definition, and an example of its usage in a recent Times article.

Write your best sentence using our Gladiator Word of the Day and post it to the blog. If you hear your sentence read during the morning announcements, stop by room 3119 to receive your extra credit coupon. Include the name of your 1st or 2nd period teacher. The class that submits the most sentences by the end of the nine weeks will receive an ice cream party.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

October 1, 2012
alloy • noun and verb

You may have heard of aluminum alloy on a car. What that means is that there is another metal mixed in with the aluminum, to save money and/or to strengthen the wheels. The wheels are an alloy (a mix), rather than pure.

In addition to indicating a dilution of one metal with another, alloy can refer to the dilution of a feeling or a quality. Knowing that you look awesome in your Halloween costume would be an alloy to the embarrassment of showing up to a party where you are the only one in a costume.

Monday, July 30, 2012

October 2, 2012
anecdote • noun

A short, amusing true story is an anecdote. You might come back from a crazy spring break with a lot of anecdotes to tell.

The roots of anecdote lie in the Greek word anekdota, meaning "unpublished." The word's original sense in English was "secret or private stories" — tales not fit for print, so to speak. It can still have connotations of unreliability, as in the phrase "anecdotal information." But the most common sense today is that of "a funny story about something that happened."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

October 3, 2012
appurtenance • noun

Something that is an accessory to something but not an integral part of it is an appurtenance. If you buy a car, you may want to purchase a few appurtenances for it, like an ice scraper and fuzzy dice to hang from your rear view mirror.

The noun appurtenance does not only refer to tangible objects, such as appurtenances of a certain lifestyle. It can also mean equipment or gear for a certain task. By the time you fill your locker with all the appurtenances of a high school student, you won't have room for a coat. Perhaps the appurtenances you should invest in are heavy sweatshirts.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

October 4, 2012
champion • noun and verb

A champion is a winner, or someone who's really good at something. If you are a champion chess player, you are a superstar! When crowds sing Queen's "We Are the Champions" at football games, they are celebrating the fact that their team won.

Champion comes from the Latin word campionem for "gladiator, fighter." Rarr! No need to grab your sword, but a champion is also a person who fights for a cause. If you are the champion of fundraising, you keep pushing to raise money. As a verb, to champion means to protect or fight for something. You champion your little brother by defending him against meanies — no matter what, you are always on his side.

Friday, July 27, 2012

October 5, 2012
cleft • noun

If you're looking for an indentation or opening in something, you're looking for a cleft (noun). A person with a cleft (adjective) chin has a little dent in the middle of their chin. Most superheroes have one.

Superman is known for his ability to leap tall buildings, his crush on Lois Lane, and the cleft in his chin. For some reason, that cleft is supposed to make him look strong. Some clefts are not so nice. A cleft palate is an upper lip with a deep indentation in it that should be fixed by a surgeon. You may know the verb cleave, which means to cut down the middle. If you cleave something but don't finish the job, you've probably left a cleft in it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

October 8, 2012

cog • noun

An engine needs each of its parts to work. It has gears which have wheels. Each wheel has cogs, or tiny teeth that fit together, making the wheel turn, the engine run. Every cog is essential to that engine.

People can also be cogs — they are the workers who, day in and day out, perform their duties seemingly with no end in sight. Feeling disheartened, they might say, "I'm just a cog in the system." If you hear this, remind them of the true definition of the term cog — an instrumental part of the whole.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

October 9, 2012

conciliatory • adjective

If you're in a fight with a friend and you want to end it, you should make a conciliatory gesture, such as inviting her to a party you're having. Conciliatory describe things that make other people less angry.

The context is often a situation in which a dispute is settled by compromise. In the word conciliatory, the –ory suffix means "relating to or doing," and the root is from Latin conciliatus, from conciliare "to bring together, win over," from concilium "council."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

October 10, 2012
connotation • noun

When you're talking about the implied subtext of words rather than their literal meaning, reach for the noun connotation. A political boss might not want to be called "boss" because of the negative connotations.

From the Latin com- "with" + notare "to mark," this word is all about reading between the lines. The literal meaning (or denotation) of Wall Street, for instance, is "a street in lower Manhattan that's home to many financial institutions," but the same phrase's connotations may include "wealth," "power," or "greed," depending on your experiences and opinions. A closely related word is implication.

Monday, July 23, 2012

October 11, 2012
deify • verb

When you deify someone, you're paying the highest compliment: you're treating them like a god.

Maybe it's because people like to exaggerate, but we deify all the time. We deify the latest sports stars, singers, and actors. When politicians are popular, we deify them. Great writers and artists of the past — like Shakespeare and Picasso — are deified. Anytime we make someone seem so great, so powerful, so wonderful, and so amazing that it can't possibly be true, we're deifying them. It's something we just can't help doing when we respect or love someone a lot.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

October 12, 2012
diatribe • noun

It's totally overwhelming when you ask someone a seemingly innocuous question, like "Do you like hot dogs?" and they unleash a diatribe about the evils of eating meat. A diatribe is an angry speech that strongly criticizes a person or thing.

This noun is from Latin diatriba "learned discourse," from Greek diatribē "pastime, lecture," from diatrībein "to waste time, wear away," from the prefix dia- "thoroughly" plus trībein "to rub." So the origin of the word diatribe is connected to both serious  study and the spending or wasting of time. In English, the original meaning of diatribe was a long and formal debate or discussion.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

October 15, 2012
dossier • noun

If you’re a fan of spy movies, you’ve probably seen countless scenes in which an intrepid secret agent breaks into a secure government facility in order to steal a dossier, or a collection of files.

Dossier, which emerged in French in the 19th century, is derived from the French word dos, meaning “back.” While the connection between “files” and “backs” isn’t certain, it may pertain to the fact that the labels of dossiers were originally affixed to the back, or spine, of each file. If you speak French, you can apply your knowledge to the pronunciation of this word; the final syllable is pronounced with a long a sound, rhyming with “day.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

October 16, 2012
febrile • adjective

Febrile is an adjective that means "related to fever." It can be used in a medical sense when someone is sick and running a temperature, or to mean a state of excitement or energy.

When febrile is used to describe a fever due to illness, it is often used together with the word seizure. A febrile seizure is a seizure triggered by a fever. In a non-medical sense, the word can describe a state of excitement, as in, "The atmosphere in the city was febrile as the king's coronation date approached." You might think the fe in the word sounds like "fee," but it is actually pronounced "feh," as in February.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

October 17, 2012
fissure • noun and verb

A long fine crack in the surface of something is called a fissure. If you see a fissure in the ice on a frozen lake, you'll want to take off your skates and head back to the car.

Fissure has its roots in the Latin word fissura, meaning a cleft or crack. If something breaks into fine cracks, you can describe the action with the verb form of fissure. For example, "She watched in horror as the earth fissured beneath her feet, recognizing the signs of an earthquake but powerless to do anything to save herself except throw herself to the ground and hang on."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

October 18, 2012
forgo • verb

The verb forgo means to give up or lose the right to something.

The word forgo can be traced back to the Old English word forgān, which meant to pass away or to die, which is sometimes referred to as "giving up the ghost." Perhaps it was this idea of relinquishing something that led to our modern-day use of the word forgo to mean to give up, waive, or forfeit something. For example, someone charged with a crime might decide to forgo the right to remain silent and instead confess.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

October 19, 2012
gaudy • adjective

Something that's gaudy is showy, bright and definitely tacky. So think twice about that gaudy rainbow-colored suit and shiny gold shoes ensemble.

Gaudy is an adjective that means "ostentatious" — in other words, flashy and in your face, and not in a good way. Someone in a gaudy outfit is probably trying too hard to be cool and stylish. Gaudy evolved from the Middle English gaud “deception, trick” in the 1520’s. That word, in turn, came from gaudi, used to describe a “large, ornamental bead in a rosary.”

Monday, July 16, 2012

October 22, 2012
gaunt • adjective

You can never be too rich or too thin, but you certainly can be too gaunt. It means you look skinny like you're sick, not skinny like you have a personal nutritionist slapping your hand when you reach for a bonbon.

A good way to remember gaunt is that it rhymes with haunt, and gaunt people look pale, drawn, and wasted — like you'd expect a haunting ghost to appear. Another way to remember it is that g- + aunt is like great-aunt, and often when you appear to be gaunt you look like you're old — like your Great Aunt Mildred.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

October 23, 2012
glutton • noun

Do you like to eat and drink — I mean, really like to eat and drink? Then you might be a glutton.

We all have our favorite foods and drinks, but some people are a little more into it than others — these people are gluttons. Someone who's a glutton because they just eat too much is different from a gourmet or gourmand, who enjoys only the best food. This word also is used in phrases like "glutton for punishment," which you might say about a student who asks for extra homework.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

October 24, 2012
infernal • adjective

Things that come from Hell, or seem like they do, are infernal. If your father tells you to stop listening to that infernal music, he thinks your tunes are hellish on the ears.

The word infernal comes from infernus, the Latin word for underground. A related word is inferno which means a really big fire, the kind that you might find in Hell. Although it might be used to describe something really hot or something evil, infernal is usually used when someone is complaining about something they really don't like such as the infernal dog next door that keeps barking.

Friday, July 13, 2012

October 25, 2012
lancet • noun

The noun lancet describes a small, double-edged surgical knife used to make incisions.

A lancer is a soldier bearing a long spear, called a lance, while a lancet is like a tiny spear — sharp on two sides and meant to pierce things. And though a soldier could wield a lancet, it's more likely to be used by a surgeon. A lancet arch is an architectural term used to describe an arch that peaks at the top. Most buildings with lancet arches are not places where you’d use a lancet, though.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

October 29, 2012
legerdemain • noun

When a magician waves his hands over a hat and pulls out a rabbit, he is performing an act of legerdemain or trickery.

Legerdemain can be used literally to describe a magic trick, or figuratively to describe some other kind of trickery or deceit. If you and some friends cook up a scheme that involves telling complicated lies so that you can stay out all night, you are guilty of legerdemain. The word comes from the French léger de main which means dexterous, or light of hand.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

October 30, 2012
limber • adjective and verb
Can you dance the hula? Get into crazy yoga positions, or touch your toes? Then you're limber, meaning your body is pretty flexible and able to bend well.
Limber generally implies long and graceful limbs. Ballet dancers, it goes without saying, are limber. The term is also used for anything that's capable of being bent easily, such as a piece of metal or, in the metaphorical sense, someone's personality.

October 31, 2012
malingerer • noun

Have you ever pretended to be sick or hurt to get out of taking a test or doing a chore? Then you, my dear, are a malingerer, and should be ashamed of yourself. Shape up!
Knowing that the prefix mal is from the Latin for “bad,” we can tell right off that being a malingerer is not a good thing. This noun form of the verb malinger comes from the French malingre which means “sickly.” In Jack London’s Call of the Wild, the new dog, Pike, is referred to as “a clever malingerer and thief,” giving a clear negative context to the word.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

November 1, 2012

marshal • noun and verb

A federal marshal knocks on your door. You panic: a marshal is a law officer. What do you do? You marshal your thoughts, that is, put them in order.

Marshal derives from the Old French mareschal, for stable officer. The stable officer had charge of the horses, tending to them, putting them in order, readying them for action. If you are a marshal, you're an officer. If you marshal yourself, you get yourself ready, preparing for action.

Monday, July 9, 2012

November 2, 2012
modish • adjective

Something modish is fashionable and stylish. It's a-la-mode, or right on top of the latest look. In the 1970s, it was considered modish to wear bell bottoms.

The word modish is a combination of the French mode meaning "fashion" and the suffix -ish meaning "very common." When something is modish, it's all the rage. A swanky restaurant where it's hard to get a table or a boutique selling the newest designer labels are considered modish, or in vogue. Open up the pages of Vogue and you'll be accosted with the latest modish looks.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

November 5, 2012
monarchy • noun
A monarchy is a country that is ruled by a monarch, and monarchy is this system or form of government.

A monarch, such as a king or queen, rules a kingdom or empire. In a constitutional monarchy, the monarch's power is limited by a constitution. But in an absolute monarchy, the monarch has unlimited power. Monarchy is an old form of government, and the word has been around a long time. It derives from Greek monarkhiā, from monarkhos "monarch."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

November 7, 2012
muggy • adjective

Think of hot, humid, steamy weather as being so unpleasant that you feel "mugged" by it when you step outside. That's one way to remember the meaning of muggy.

"It's not the heat! It's the humidity!" That's what your grandma says when she wants to complain about muggy weather. Muggy means a combination of humidity and heat that makes you sweaty and uncomfortable and long for air-conditioning. You might be cursing the cold and the snow today, but mark my words, come August and the muggy dog days of summer, you'll be nostalgic for the cold.

Friday, July 6, 2012

November 8, 2012
opportunist • noun

Opportunists are people who see a chance to gain some advantage from a situation, often at the expense of ethics or morals. An opportunist seizes every opportunity to improve things for himself.

Say you won millions in the lottery. People would come out of the woodwork hoping to get their hands on some of it. These people act as if they are close friends. But they are not; they are opportunists. Famous opportunists include “carpetbaggers,” Northern opportunists who, after the American Civil War, poured into the South to turn Reconstruction into personal financial gains.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

November 9, 2012
peregrination • noun

If you went backpacking through Europe last summer, you could call your travels a peregrination. A peregrination is a long journey or period of wandering.

Peregrination comes from the Latin peregrinari, which means “to travel abroad.” A peregrination is a journey or pilgrimage, especially one that's made on foot. This word typically applies to traveling for an extended period of time or over a great distance. So, you wouldn’t call a trip to the grocery store a peregrination. However, if you traveled the globe looking for the world’s best grocery store, you could call that a peregrination.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

November 13, 2012
perforate • verb and adjective

When you perforate something, you make a hole in it, like when you poke holes in a piece of aluminum foil to let steam escape while something is cooking.

The word perforate has origins in the Latin word perforatus, the past participle of perforare, meaning “to bore through.” When you perforate something that’s essentially what you do: you bore through it, or punch a hole or holes in it like paper you perforate to fit the rings on your binder, or a leather belt that has been perforated with holes so that you can buckle it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

November 14, 2012
philology • noun
Philology means the study of language. Not learning specific languages per se, but grammar and history, and how sounds and meanings change over time.

If you study philology, you don't need anyone to tell you that the word philology comes from the Greek philologia "love of learning." It's one of the words ending in -logy, which means "study." Think biology (life), archaeology (ancient things), psychology (the mind), sociology (society).

Monday, July 2, 2012

November 15, 2012
plagiarize • verb
You plagiarize when you take someone's ideas or words and pass them off as your own. It's a fancy word for copying. Many politicians and writers have plagiarized. It's not always professional suicide, however — just ask Vice President Joe Biden. Still, don't do it.

It's not illegal to plagiarize but it's morally wrong, and it might just get you tossed out of school. If you're writing something and include word-for-word something you've read and don't attribute the words or ideas to that writer, you are plagiarizing. The origins of the word are said to mean "one who kidnaps the child of another" — which certainly gives a sense of the gravity of the charge. After all, some writers do consider their words to be their babies.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

November 16, 2012
profligate • adjective and noun
Profligate, as a noun or as an adjective, implies recklessly wasting your money on extravagant luxury. Profligate behavior is a lot of fun, but you'll regret it later — when you get your charge card bill.

Any time someone behaves in a reckless, amoral, or wasteful way, they are engaging in profligate behavior. It usually refers to financial behavior but can cross over to social activity as well. A person who is a slave to their cravings and whose behavior is unrestrained and selfish can be called a profligate. Extravagantly profligate behavior is often wildly fun but usually comes with a heavy price to pay in the morning, both financially and morally.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

November 19, 2012
protean • adjective
When Picasso is described as a protean genius, it means that not only was he brilliant, but he changed the way he worked many times. Protean means able to change shape.

Proteus was a Greek god who could tell the future, but when he was asked a question he didn't want to answer, he would change shapes. With someone or something protean, you get all the power of shape-shifting, plus some of the menace of a god you cannot control.

Friday, June 29, 2012

November 20, 2012
quiescent • adjective
The adjective quiescent means "being quiet and still," like the quiescent moments lying in a hammock on a beautiful summer Sunday.

To be quiescent, pronounced "qwhy-ESS-ent," is to be quiet, resting, which is exactly what its Latin origin quiescens means: In our busy world, it is hard to find a place to be quiescent. It has a second meaning: "causing no symptoms." For example, if a disease is quiescent, you probably won't know you have it. And finally, quiescent can mean "not activated," like quiescent cleaning products that don't get the stains out.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

November 21, 2012
rationalize • verb
Rationalize means to justify by developing a rationale, or a set of reasons for something. You could rationalize cutting school, saying your classes are boring, but you are still doing what you shouldn't be doing.

Rationalize can also mean reorganizing along rational lines––a watchmaker's shop might be set up in a totally illogical way that made sense only to the old owner, whose children will rationalize the shop's organization once the old man dies.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

November 26, 2012
sap • noun and verb
To sap something is to drain or deplete something over time. If you sap a maple tree, you drain the liquid inside it to make maple syrup. But if you sap a person of strength, you've rendered him defenseless.

Whether used as a noun or verb, sap is rarely a good thing. If your energy or will is sapped, it’s not meant lightly; it means you have been exhausted of all your reserve energy, you’re reduced to a shell. If someone calls you "a sap," it suggests you lack strength and character. And if you get sap — the sticky liquid inside a tree — on your hands, good luck getting it off in the middle of a forest without a bar of soap and running water. Yuck.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

November 27, 2012
stolid • adjective
A stolid person can’t be moved to smile or show much sign of life, in much the same
way as something solid, like a giant boulder, is immovable. Both are expressionless.

It's hard to get excited about the word stolid. It refers to emotionless people or things, and it even sounds pretty dull. Your face may be stolid, as you plod through the unemotional history of the word born in the 17th century of little more than Latin words for "foolish." In some definitions, stolid does have more complimentary synonyms, such as "dependable" or "calm," but these can be overshadowed by other words for stolid — "empty," "blank," and "vacant," to name a few.

Monday, June 25, 2012

November 28, 2012
suborn • verb
One of the reasons Mafia bosses are so good at avoiding prison is that they know how to suborn witnesses and jurors — that is, to bribe people to lie. After all, it wouldn't be nice if an accident were to happen on the way to court, kapeesh?

Technically speaking, suborn doesn't just mean induce someone to conveniently "forget" something in the witness stand, or otherwise get creative with their imagination. An inducement to any kind of crime is suborning, but by far the most common use is in the legal sense above. Or "witness tampering," as the cops call it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

November 29, 2012
venerable • adjective
To be venerable is to be admired and respected because of your status or age. You become venerable by achieving great things or just by living long enough.

The adjective venerable means "admired" and "respected" — it should describe how you feel about old folks and bosses, for example. It describes the wise old man at the top of the mountain who tells you the meaning of life. As a noun, the Venerable refers to someone high up in a religion, usually Christian. In fact, Saint Bede, who is sometimes called the Father of English History, is often referred to as the Bede the Venerable.

Which is the best antonym for the word "venerable," as it is used in the following sentence?
If your image of a city hall involves a venerable building, some Roman pillars and lots of public employees, the version offered by this Atlanta suburb of 94,000 residents is a bit of a shocker.

a. opulent
b. respectable
c. redoubtable
d. hallowed
e. contemporary

Saturday, June 23, 2012

November 30, 2012
ventral • adjective
The adjective ventral refers to the area on the body in the lower front, around the stomach area. The ventral fin on a fish is the one on its belly.

The ventral area of anything, plant or animal, is its underside. In directional terms, the ventral side is the area forward from (or under) the spinal cord. The word comes from the Latin noun venter, which meant "belly," which lent its meaning to ventrālis, which referred to anything pertaining to the belly area. When a shark is swimming toward you, you see the dorsal fin on its back but not the ventral fin on its belly, which remains unseen beneath the waves.

Friday, June 22, 2012

December 3, 2012
verbatim • adverb and adjective
Repeat something you've read or heard precisely word-for-word, and you have just quoted it verbatim. That's great if what you deliver verbatim is the directions on how to defuse a bomb, but not a good idea if you're cheating on a test and copying someone's answer verbatim.

As a word, verbatim is powerful for its precision. When you can say that you are repeating someone's words verbatim, it means every single word is exactly what was said. If you write something down verbatim, you can rely on it being a duplicate of the original document, recreated. Repeating words verbatim in your own writing can be tricky business. Without attributing the original author, verbatim can be the damning evidence of plagiarism.