Word of the Day: Conundrum

Conundrum (kə-nŭn’drəm) is a very difficult or insoluble problem. It can also refer to a riddle whose answer is a pun, a paradox or an enigma. But we have heard a lot less about these debt-market disciplinarians in recent years. Instead, bond yields have been puzzlingly low, a conundrum that taxed even Alan Greenspan, the … Read more

Word of the Day: Tacit

Tacit refers to something that is implied by actions or statements. A tacit agreement, for instance, is one where either the offer or the acceptance are to be inferred from a particular conduct. It comes from the Latin tacitus, which means silent. This was a tacit acknowledgement that recent money-market interventions had failed to cap … Read more

Word of the Day: Beleaguer

Beleaguer (bĭ-lē’gər) means to harass or disturb repeatedly. It can also refer to a siege of enemy troops. If you are beleaguered, therefore, you are being harassed or surrounded by difficulties. For beleaguered travellers this could mean another of Heathrow’s famous days of inaction. (The Economist) The Nobel Prize-winner on his lifework, his numerous exiles … Read more

Word of the Day: Resilience

Resilience (rĭ-zĭl’yəns) is the ability to recover quickly from changes or misfortunes. It can also be used as a synonym for flexibility, referring both to people and objects. If a company has resilience, for instance, it is able to handle crises effectively. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Tuesday … Read more

Word of the Day: Recoil

When you recoil (rĭ-koil’) from something you move away from it because it gives you an unpleasant feeling, disgust or pain. It can also refer to an object that bounces back or to an action that backfires. Yet Bear Stearns, like many other firms on Wall Street, jumped into the market for bonds that backed … Read more

Word of the Day: Pyrrhic

Pyrrhic (p1r’1k), the noun, is a metrical unit. It is used more widely as an adjective, however, as in “pyrrhic victory,” which means a victory with huge costs. It makes reference to Pyrrhus from Epirus, who sustained great losses in order to defeat the Roman army. Mr Murdoch has, however, paid a high price for … Read more

Word of the Day: Wax

Wax has several meanings. The noun refers to oily substances that are soluble in organic solvents but not in water. You can use wax on your car (or wax the car), for instance. The verb to wax, however, can also mean to increase or advance, as in “waxing moon.” Applying a coating of wax to … Read more

Word of the Day: Brisk

Brisk is an adjective that refers to something marked by speed or energy. A brisk tea, for instance, is an invigorating tea. If you walk briskly, you are walking fast or vigorously. The sound of her iron shoes upon the hard road was quite musical, as she came along at a much brisker trot than … Read more

Word of the Day: Ombudsman

Ombudsman (ŏm’bŭdz’mən) is a term that appeared in Sweden and then was integrated into many other languages. Originally, it used to refer to an official that investigates the complaints from the citizens against the government. Nowadays, the term can also be used to describe any independent and impartial person used by private or public organizations … Read more

Word of the Day: Rhetoric

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Rhetoric (rĕt’ər-ĭk) is the skill of using language effectively or persuasively. It comes from the Greek rhêtôr (orator). Notice that rhetoric was one of the three original liberal arts in Greece, together with dialectic and grammar.

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Word of the Day: Bipartisan

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Bipartisan (bī-pär’tĭ-zən) is used to indicate that something is created or supported by both sides. Usually, it refers to the major political parties in a country.

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Word of the Day: Furtive

Furtive (fûr’tìv) is an adjective used to express caution or secrecy. Synonyms include stealthy and surreptitious. It comes from the Latim furtum (theft). Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge … Read more