Word for the Day

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Where do I get my information? Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. It's an app I have on my iPad. If I come across a word I do not know, I will let you know where I located the word.


January - what a perfect time to make resolutions!  This makes our first word: resolution

January 1 - resolution - Did you know there were 6 different definitions for the word resolution?

  1. the act or process of resolving (I hate definitions like this because they assume you know what the root word means)
  2. the subsidence of a pathological state (as inflammation)
  3. something that is resolved (there's that word again)
  4. a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent voted by an official body or assembled group
  5. the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out (I like this one - after all, we are writers)
  6. the process or capability of making distinguishable the individual parts of an object, closely adjacent optical images, or sources of light
Word origin: Middle English - resolucioun, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French resolucion, from Latin resolution-, resolutio, from resolvere

The word was first used in the 14th century.

January 2 - mantua 

  1. a usually loose-fitting gown worn especially in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Word origin: French manteau mantle

The word was first used in 1678.


January 3 - accentuate - I chose this word because when I looked up highlight, I learned it wasn't in use until the late 1800s, and then 1920s.  And since, I am writing a novel set in the Georgian period, highlight would not do. So, today's word is accentuate

  1. to accent, emphasize
  2. intensigy
Word origin: Medieval Latin accentuatus, past participle of accentuare from Latin accentus

The word was first used in 1731 in its current form.

January 4 - white elephant - I picked this word because I was watching the series - The Forsyte Saga - and heard one of the main characters refer to house as a white elephant. I was curious as to when such a saying came into existence.


  1. an Indian elephant of a pale color that is sometimes venerated in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar
  2. a property requiring much care and expense and yielding little profit; an object no longer of value to its owner but of value to others
  3. something of little or no value
The word was first used in the 15th century.

January 5 - percolate - This is a great word!!!!  I chose this one because I used it in my book which takes place in the 1750s and I had someone question the accuracy of a word like this.  Of course I understood their question - did they percolate back then (thinking of coffee).  So, I decided to check it out.

  1. to cause (a solvent) to pass through a permeable substance (as a powdered drug) especially for extracting a soluble constituent
  2. to prepare (coffee) in a percolator
  3. to be diffused through
  4. to ooze or trickle through a permeable substance
  5. to spread gradually
  6. simmer
Word Origin: Latin percolatus, past participle of percolare, from per through + colare to sieve

The word was first used in 1626.

January 6 - whimsy - This word is just plain fun. It's fun to say, it's fun to write, it's just plain fun!

  1. whim (there they go again, using the root word to define the word), caprice (another word people go - what does this mean?)
  2. the quality or state of being whimsical (ha! there they go again, using another form of the word) or fanciful
  3. a fanciful or fantastic device, object, or creation especially in writing or art
Word Origin: irregular from whim-wham (Of course this helps me not at all)

The word was first used in 1605.

January 7- wile - I chose this word because it almost always turns up red when I type it in my novels.  So, I figured a bit of investigating was in order.

  1. a trick or stratagem intended to ensnare or deceive; a beguiling or playful trick
  2. a skill in outwitting
  3. to lure by or as if by a magic spell
Word Origin: Middle English wil, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse vel - deceit, artifice

The word was first used in the 12th century.


January 8 - swagger - I was looking for the word cocky and realized it hadn't been used as I wanted it until later in the 1700s, so I looked for a synonym.  This is when I found swagger.

  1. to conduct oneself in an arrogant or superciliously pompous manner; 
  2. boast, brag
  3. to force by argument or threat
Word Origin: probably from swag + er

The word was first used around 1596.

January 9 - antsy - this is a fun word. I was going to use it today when I was describing how my hero was feeling, but I thought - "hmmm, maybe I should check out when this word was first used." I'm glad I did.


  1. restless, fidgety; impatient, eager
  2. nervous, apprehensive
  3. unable to sit or stand still
Word origin: American English

The word was first used in 1838, but was spelled ancey. It was not used again until the 1950s and many believe it is connected to "having ants in one's pants".  You decide.


January 10 - chevalier - the name has a romantic ring to it, doesn't it?

  1. cavalier - of course this one doesn't help (a cavalier is a gentleman trained in arms and horsemanship)
  2. a member of any of various orders of knighthood or of merit (as the Legion of Honor)
  3. a member of the lowest rank of French nobility
  4. a cadet of the French nobility
  5. a chivalrous man
Word origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin caballarius horseman

The word was first used in the 14th century.

January 11 - espionage - Anyone interested in spies, knows this word well. Guess what? It hasn't really been around that long! There are many options to pick from if you look at its origins.

  1. the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government or a competing company
Word origin: French - espionnage, from Middle French, from espionner to spy, from espion spy, from Old Italian spione, from spia, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German spehon to spy.

The word was first used in 1793.

January 12 - fuzzy - this one I had to pick because it seems like a more modern word, but I was wrong.

  1. marked by or giving a suggestion of fuzz
  2. lacking in clarity or definition
  3. being, relating to, or invoking pleasant and usually sentimental emotions
Word origin: Low German - fussig loose, spongy

The word was first used in 1713.

January 13 - humdrum - sometimes you wonder about words that seem more like slang than anything else.

  1. monotonous - this surprised me - because this word's origin was in 1776
  2. dull - this one has been around since the 13th century
Word origin: reduplication of hum

The word was first used in 1553.

January 14 - titillate - some people laugh over this word, but it's one of those words that when you read it, you think - hmmm, that's an interesting word.

  1. to excite pleasurably
  2. arouse by stimulation
  3. to act as a stimulant to pleasurable excitement
Word origin: Latin titillatus, past participle of titillare

The word was first used in 1620.

January 15 - commercial - We were watching Netflix and I thought = hmmm, I wonder how long people have been using the word - commercial.

  1. occupied with or engaged in commerce or work intended for commerce
  2. being of an average or inferior quality
  3. viewed with regard to profit
  4. designed for a large market
  5. emphasizing skills and subjects useful in business
  6. supported by advertisers
Word origin: Middle French, from Latin commercium, from com- + mer-, merx merchandise

The word was first used in 1537.

January 16 - couture -  while watching the Golden Globes, my daughter asked me what couture was.  So, here I am looking it up.

  1. the business of designing, making, and selling fashionable custom-made women's clothing
  2. the designers and establishments engaged in couture
  3. the clothes created by couture
Word origin: French, from Old French cousture sewing, from Vulgar Latin consutura, from Latin consutus

The word was first used in 1908.

January 17 - solicit 

  1. to make petition to
  2. to approach with a request or plea
  3. to urge (as on's cause) strongly
  4. to entice or to lure especially into evil
  5. to proposition (someone) especially as or in the character of a prostitute
  6. to try to obtain by usually urgent requests or pleas
Word origin: Middle English, to disturb, promote, from Anglo-French soliciter, from Latin sollicitare to disturb, from sollicitus anxious, from sollus whole + citus, to move

The word was first used in the 15th century.

January 18 - chocolate - if you are like me, you love chocolate - so when did we first get to enjoy chocolate?

  1. a beverage made by mixing chocolate with water or milk
  2. a food prepared from ground roasted cacao beans
  3. a small candy with a center (as a fondant) and a chocolate coating
Word origin: Spanish, from Nahuati chocolati, from chikolli hook + atl water, liquid.

The word was first used in 1604.


January 19 - actuate - not sure why I picked this word except that I really did not know what it meant.

  1. to put into mechanical action or motion
  2. to move to action
Word origin: Medieval Latin actuatus, to execute from Latin actus - act

The word was first used in 1645. (Of course this seems odd if its origin is from Medieval Latin, but there you go.)


January 20 - madrepore - I just like the way this word sounds when it rolls off the tongue.

  1. any of various stony reef-building corals of tropical seas that assume a variety of branching, encrusting, or massive forms.
Word origin: French madrepore, from Italian madrepora, from madre - mother + poro - pore

The word was first used in 1751.

January 21 - republic - I was working on one of my other blogs today when I came across this word. We  recognize it easily when we think of Republicans and Democrats, but do we know where the words came from?

  1. a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president
  2. a political unit having such a government
  3. a government which has supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible for them and governing according to law
  4. a usually specified republican government of a political unit
  5. the body of persons freely engaged in a specified activity
Word origin: French republique - from Middle French republique, from Latin respublica, from res thing, wealth + publica, feminine of publicus public

The word was first used in 1604.


January 22 - lissome - I've read this word before in historical novels and always wondered how this word came to be.

  1. easily flexed
  2. lithe
Word origin: alteration of lithesome which actually wasn't first used until 1774.

The word was first used in 1763.

January 23 - ribald - I remember seeing this word when I was in British literature classes in college.
  1. crude, offensive
  2. characterized by or using coarse indecent humor
Word origin: Middle English ribaud person of low status, scoundrel, lecher, riber - to be debauched.

The word was first used as a noun in the 13th century and as an adjective around 1508.

January 24 - timorous - I usually think of being timid like a mouse when I see this word.

  1. of a timid disposition
  2. expressing or suggesting timidity
Word origin: Middle English from Medieval Latin - timorosus - timor = fear.

The word was first used in the 15th century.

January 25 - hoyden - this word is used a lot in historical romance novels to describe the heroine who can be quite the tomboy.

  1. a girl or woman of saucy, boisterous, or carefree behavior
Word origin: they think it's from the Dutch - heiden for country lout, from Middle Dutch - heathen.

The word was first used in 1676.


January 26 - ton - No, I do not mean a unit of measure.  For those of you who read historical romance novels, we have all seen this word and wondered "where did this strange word come from and how did it come to mean the society"?  The word is usually seen in Regency novels.

  1. the prevailing fashion
  2. the quality or state of being smart or fashionable
Word origin: French - tone - or Old French - tonus 

The word was first used in 1756.


January 27 - harlot - Of course we know that prostitution has been around for centuries, but when did certain words come into existence is key when you are writing.

  1. prostitute - and I looked this one up too!
Word origin: Middle English - rogue, buffoon, female prostitute; from Anglo French - herlot - beggar, vagabond

The word was first used in the 15th century.
AND = prostitute - comes from Latin prostitutus, from pro - before + statuere - to station  and it was first used in 1530.

January 28 - overwhelm - I picked this word because lately it's how I feel most days.  As I thought of the word, I wondered - where did this word come from? I understand over - but what about whelm?

  1. upset, overthrow
  2. to cover over completely
  3. to overcome by superior force or numbers
  4. to overpower in thought or feeling
Word Origin: Middle English - from over + whelmen to turn over (Ahh, whelmen makes me think of wheelmen - and a wheel turns).

The word was first used in the 14th century.

January 29 - quince - when I saw this word, I thought of how many words that have quin - means five - so I decided to look it up.  I was quite wrong.

  1. the fruit of a central Asian tree of the rose family that resembles a hard-fleshed yellow apple and is used in preserves.
  2. a tree that bears quinces
Word origin: Middle English quynce - plural of coyn, quyn quince, from Anglo-French coign, from Latin cotoneum.

The word was first used in the 14th century - think of the time Marco Polo first traveled to China.

January 30 - beget - we usually see this word in conjunction with "beget an heir"

  1. to procreate as the father
  2. to produce especially as an effect or outgrowth
Word origin: Middle English begeten, from Old English bigietan - more at get.

The word was first used in the 13th century.

January 31 - valedictorian - I was watching a commercial where the president of a university was printing the degrees while handing them to the graduates and thought - hmmm - where did the word valedictorian come from?

  1. the student usually having the highest rank in a graduating class who delivers the valedictory address at the commencement exercises
I looked up valedictory which led me to valediction so I could figure out where the word originated.

Word origin: Latin valedicere

While valedictorian was first used in 1759  , valediction was first used in 1613 and merely means farewell.

Let's see what February brings us!

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