Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 29, 2020 is:
untenable • \un-TEN-uh-bul\ • adjective
1 : not able to be defended
2 : not able to be occupied
Faced with a budget deficit, the company’s CEO made the untenable decision to lay off several upper management employees while still making sure he received a salary bonus.
“At noon on February 20, tanks from the 8th Panzer Regiment slammed into the British two miles north of Kasserine Pass on Highway 17. For the next six hours, the Tommies yielded one untenable hill after another.” — Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn, 2002
Did you know?
Untenable and its opposite tenable come to us from Old French tenir (“to hold, have possession of”) and ultimately from Latin tenēre (“to hold, occupy, possess”). We tend to use untenable in situations where an idea or position is so off base that holding onto it is unjustified or inexcusable. One way to hold onto the meaning of untenable is to associate it with other tenēre descendants whose meanings are associated with “holding” or “holding onto.” Tenacious (“holding fast”) is one example. Others are contain, detain, sustain, maintain, and retain.
February 29, 2020 at 01:00PM
February 28, 2020 at 06:00PM
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 28, 2020 is:
coax • \KOHKS\ • verb
1 : to influence or gently urge by caressing or flattering : wheedle
2 : to draw, gain, or persuade by means of gentle urging or flattery
3 : to manipulate with great perseverance and usually with considerable effort toward a desired state or activity
“Toasting the pine nuts until they’re properly golden brown to the center and not just on the surface is key in coaxing out maximum flavor.” — Molly Willett, Bon Appétit, December 2019/January 2020
“Recycling is still important, but it’s not the whole answer to our problem with getting rid of ‘stuff.’ What we really need is to shut our eyes and ears to the advertising that coaxes us to buy more, and spend our money on only the things we really need.” — Dorothy Turcotte, The Grimsby Lincoln (Ontario) News, 6 Jan. 2020
Did you know?
In the days of yore, if you made a “cokes” of someone, you made a fool of them. Cokes—a now-obsolete word for “fool”—is believed to be the source of the verb coax, which was first used in the 16th century (with the spelling cokes) to mean “to make a fool of.” Soon, the verb also took on the kinder meaning of “to make a pet of.” As might be expected, the act of “cokesing” was sometimes done for personal gain. By the 17th century, the word was being used in today’s senses that refer to influencing or persuading people by kind acts or words. By the 19th century, the spelling cokes had fallen out of use, along with the meanings “to make a fool of” and “to make a pet of.”
February 28, 2020 at 01:00PM
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February 28, 2020 at 12:00PM
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 27, 2020 is:
trenchant • \TREN-chunt\ • adjective
1 : keen, sharp
2 : vigorously effective and articulate; also : caustic
3 a : sharply perceptive : penetrating
b : clear-cut, distinct
“Felix had a confident, gayly trenchant way of judging human actions which Mr. Wentworth grew little by little to envy; it seemed like criticism made easy.” — Henry James, The Europeans, 1878
“Whether you view it as a trenchant treatise on the contemporary effects of Marxism, or just a wonderfully odd glimpse into a fading star of the fashion industry, Celebration is at turns beguiling, fascinating, and true, which is what one should want and need out of a documentary.” — Josh Kupecki, The Austin Chronicle, 18 Oct. 2019
Did you know?
The word trenchant comes from the Anglo-French verb trencher, meaning “to cut,” and may ultimately derive from the Vulgar Latin trinicare, meaning “to cut in three.” Hence, a trenchant sword is one with a keen edge; a trenchant remark is one that cuts deep; and a trenchant observation is one that cuts to the heart of the matter. Relatives of trenchant in English include the noun trench (“a long ditch cut into the ground”) and the verb retrench (“to cut down or pare away” or “to cut down expenses”).
February 27, 2020 at 01:00PM
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 26, 2020 is:
injunction • \in-JUNK-shun\ • noun
1 : the act or an instance of enjoining : order, admonition
2 : a court order requiring a party to do or refrain from doing a specified act
The family gathered in the room to hear the matriarch’s dying injunctions.
“The Benton County district filed a lawsuit asking for the division of fees to be declared unconstitutional and seeking an injunction to have the disputed money held in escrow.” — Tom Sissom, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 22 Jan. 2020
Did you know?
Injunction derives, via Anglo-French and Late Latin, from the Latin verb injungere, which in turn is based on jungere, meaning “to join.” Like our verb enjoin, injungere means “to direct or impose by authoritative order or with urgent admonition.” (Not surprisingly, enjoin is also a descendant of injungere.) Injunction has been around in English since at least the 15th century, when it began life as a word meaning “authoritative command.” In the 16th century, it developed a legal second sense applying to a court order. It has also been used as a synonym of conjunction, another jungere descendant meaning “union,” but that sense is extremely rare.
February 26, 2020 at 01:00PM