Word of the Day: Veneer

Veneer is a thin layer of attractive wood (or other material) glued on top of cheaper wood, to enhance the overall appearance. Usually the term is used figuratively, meaning anything that covers the real nature of something. Nelson Mandela wants to use the rugby World Cup, for white South Africans the absolute pinnacle of sport, … Read more

Word of the Day: Wrangle

Wrangle means to dispute something angrily; to argue noisily. But now, as planners try to figure out how to build and pay for the park, and lawmakers wrangle over the details, it is starting to look as if the political battle was the easy part. (NY Times) Caught between rasping laughter and the low moan … Read more

Word of the Day: Splurge

Splurge means to make a great display in any way. Usually, however, the display comes through expensive or extravagant things. America’s most vibrant political force at the moment is the anti-tax tea-party movement. Even in leftish Massachusetts people are worried that Mr Obama’s spending splurge, notably his still-unpassed health-care bill, will send the deficit soaring. … Read more

Word of the Day: Paroxysm

A paroxysm is a sudden outburst of something, a violent emotion. It can also refer to the exacerbation of a disease. Contemplating the economic rubble from our most recent paroxysm of enthusiasm, I wonder whether we should do something about our blind passions. (NY Times) For now, there will be a paroxysm of anger and … Read more

Word of the Day: Derision

Derision is a scornful treatment of someone or something; a mockery or ridicule. The object that is being mocked can be called derision. President Reagan’s long-awaited announcement that he would run for a second term touched off celebrations last night by his supporters, choruses of derision by opponents and promises of a tough campaign by … Read more

Word of the Day: Whim

A whim is a strange or capricious notion; a temporary eccentricity; a freak. A person or thing that has many whims can be called whimsical. When the Web site that he started on a whim, HOTorNOT.com, a meeting site popular with 20-year-olds, unexpectedly made James Hong a millionaire, he wanted to donate some of his … Read more

Word of the Day: Heresy

Heresy is an opinion that goes against the values of an established doctrine or system. It is commonly used in the religious context. He is quick to acknowledge that scholarship is not more important than sanctity, but he still argues that it is sinful, and a kind of heresy, for evangelical Christianity not to honor … Read more

Word of the Day: Anew

Anew is an adverb, and it means again or once more. As a vice chairman and longtime stockholder of Bear Stearns, Fares D. Noujaim suffered an emotional and financial blow when the investment bank imploded. Now he gets a chance to start anew. (NY Times) In a break with the administration, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. … Read more

Word of the Day: Propaganda

Propaganda is any kind of information that is spread to help or harm a specific doctrine, system, person, group and so on. The origin of the word is connected with the “College of the Propaganda,” a school created by Pope Urban VIII to educate priests for missions around the world. In various pronouncements, top propaganda … Read more

Word of the Day: Peruse

Peruse means to read or examine something with great care, checking all the details. Many people believe that peruse means to glance over something, but this is clearly not the case. I.R.S. policies are not always so clear, so caution is advised. In cases where cooperative buildings have commercial space, a prospective buyer should be … Read more

Word of the Day: Caveat

A caveat is a warning or admonition. It can also mean a detail or condition to be taken into consideration while doing something. After country icon Minnie Pearl died, Rod Harris commissioned a statue. The donation came with one caveat: The statue had to stay on one exact spot in downtown Centerville, Tenn. (USA Today) … Read more

Word of the Day: Sift

Sift means to separate the fine part of a substance with a sieve. It can also be used figuratively, where it means to examine something closely. As he talked, his wife, Setsuko, squatted in the ruin of the house. A small woman, she had a smudge of soot on her face as she carefully poked … Read more