10 words to learn in 2019
“Learning new words at The Free Dictionary is the best resolution you can make.” - Ben Franklin, probably
We’re not trying to coerce you or anything with the above axiomatic saying, but if you find yourself contrite about not following through on your capricious New Year’s resolutions from 2018, don’t make an egregious mistake and make the same hackneyed resolution for 2019! Instead, resolve to learn some new words!
Here, we’ll make it easy for you—with a list of the words that everyone else is already trying to learn! More than a million words were bookmarked at The Free Dictionary in 2018, and these 10 words were the most popular. Can you define them all?
The Top 10 Most Bookmarked Words at The Free Dictionary in 2018
The word “contrite,” which describes feelings of remorse, has a more aggressive etymology than you might expect. It comes from the Latin word conterere, meaning “to bruise” or “to crush.”
Seems like a great way to start the year: bruise your ego and just say “sorry.”
If you want to impress (and, potentially, confuse) your friends, use the word “hebdomadal”—it’s quite an upgrade from “weekly.” On the off-chance that you don’t already know what a “hebdomad” is, it’s a group of seven.
“Specious” is used to describe something that seems true but really isn’t. And the origin of “specious”? It comes from the Latin word speciōsus, meaning “plausible” or “attractive.” It’s also related to the Latin word that gives us “species”: speciēs, meaning “outward appearance.”
When the word “egregious” was first being used (back in the 16th century), it had an entirely different meaning. Although it now means “conspicuously bad or offensive,” it originally meant “remarkably good” or “preeminent.” That’s quite the role reversal! Its Latin roots are ē- (“out”) and –grex (“herd” or “flock”), and it was originally reserved for someone or something so great that it stood out from the crowd. Our current negative definition for “egregious” might have begun as an ironic take on this early meaning.
Is it just us or was this word everywhere this year?
“Capricious,” meaning “impulsive or unpredictable,” has quite the unpredictable etymology. It traces back to the Italian word caprice, meaning “shiver” or “shudder,” from the roots capo (“head”) and riccio (“hedgehog”)—an allusion to one’s hair standing on end in resemblance of hedgehog spines. Its meaning was also influenced, through folk etymology, by the Italian word capra (“goat”), in reference to the frolicking movements of goats.
Those pithy little axioms (and, in turn, the word “axiomatic”) get their name from the Greek word axios, which means “worthy.”
If you think about it, you probably already know that the word “malign,” meaning “to slander,” comes from the Latin word for “evil”—malus.
Did you know that the word “hackneyed” has a related verb form? Yes, you can “hackney” a word by overusing it. “Hackney” shares its name with both a borough of London and the breed of workhorse once raised there. The meaning of “hackneyed” that we’re (overly) familiar with is thought to derive from a comparison to a horse that has been overworked.
Hey, we don’t want to pressure you, but if you want to work some of these words into your vocabulary in the New Year, start bookmarking them today!
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