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adjuvant • \AJ-uh-vunt\

1 : serving to aid or contribute : auxiliary

*2 : assisting in the prevention, amelioration, or cure of disease

Example Sentence:
Dr. Browne and his research team are running a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery.

Did you know?
Things that are adjuvant rarely get top billing -- they're the supporting players, not the stars. But that doesn't mean they're not important. An adjuvant medicine, for example, can have a powerful healing effect when teamed up with another medicine or curative treatment. "Adjuvant" descends from the Latin verb "adjuvare" ("to aid"), which also gave us our nouns "coadjutor" ("assistant") and "aid." These days, "adjuvant" tends to turn up most often in medical contexts, but it can also be used in the general sense of "serving to aid." Likewise, the noun "adjuvant" can mean "a drug or method that enhances the effectiveness of medical treatment" or simply "one that helps or facilitates."

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
by scummy | 2008-01-31 01:16 | MW

devolve • \dih-VAHLV\

1 a : to pass by transmission or succession
b : to fall or be passed usually as a responsibility or obligation

2 : to come by or as if by flowing down

*3 : to degenerate through a gradual change or evolution

Example Sentence:
Our book club's discussions used to be thought-provoking literary debates, but lately they've devolved into gossip sessions.

Did you know?
"Devolve" evolved from a combination of Latin "volvere," a word that means "to roll," and the prefix "de-," meaning "down." (Other words that revolve around "volvere" are the five other words containing "-vol-" found in this paragraph.) Knowing which preposition to use with "devolve" can seem a bit involved, but it's really not all that convoluted. Responsibility or rights devolve "on," "upon," or "to" someone. When something comes into a present state by flowing down from a source, either literally or figuratively, we say "devolve from," as in "customs that devolve from old beliefs." And when the devolving is a downward evolution to a lower state we say "devolves into" (or sometimes "devolves to"), as in "order devolves into chaos."

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
by scummy | 2008-01-31 01:15 | MW

hustings • \HUSS-tingz\

*1 : a place where political campaign speeches are made

2 : the proceedings or locale of an election campaign

Example Sentence:
In contrast to his opponent, the incumbent senator looked cool and composed up on the hustings.

Did you know?
Hustings are where babies are kissed, flesh is pressed, and media events are staged. The term traces to an Old Norse word meaning "house assembly," and 1000 years ago hustings were judicial assemblies where Anglo-Saxon kings and their followers held council and resolved civil disputes. Over time, "hustings" came to refer not only to the assembly but also to the platform where the leaders of such gatherings sat, and in due course the term was applied to the entire campaigning process as well. Nowadays, "on the hustings" is synonymous with "on the stump," and it can refer to any place along the campaign trail where a candidate makes a pitch for public office.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
by scummy | 2008-01-31 01:10 | MW

apodictic • \ap-uh-DIK-tik\

: expressing or of the nature of necessary truth or absolute certainty

Example Sentence:
The apodictic tone of Liza's writing reflects her complete confidence in the correctness of her statements.

Did you know?
There's something remarkable about a word which, when periodically dusted off, proves to have retained its freshness over 350 years -- and that's the case with "apodictic." It's a handy word that can describe a conclusive concept, a conclusive person, or even that conclusive person's conclusive remarks. A well-known close relative of "apodictic" is "paradigm" ("an outstandingly clear or typical example"); both words are built on Greek "deiknynai," meaning "to show." More distant relatives (from Latin "dicere," a relative of "deiknynai" that means "to say") include "diction," "dictate," "edict," and "predict."
by scummy | 2008-01-31 01:09 | MW

weasel word • \WEE-zul-WURD\

: a word used in order to mislead a person or to avoid a straight answer

Example Sentence:
Instead of just saying outright that jobs are going to be cut, the head of the company has taken to using weasel words like "corporate restructuring."

Did you know?
Some people believe that weasels can suck the insides out of an egg without damaging the shell. An egg thus weasel-treated would look fine on the outside, but it would actually be empty and useless. We don't know if weasels can really do that, but the belief that they could caused people to start using "weasel word" to refer to any term intended to give the impression that everything is fine when the speaker is really trying to avoid answering a question, telling the truth, or taking the blame for something.
by scummy | 2008-01-31 01:06 | MW

scarify • \SKAIR-uh-fye\

1 : to make scratches or small cuts in (as the skin)

2 : to lacerate the feelings of

*3 : to cut or soften the wall of (a hard seed) to hasten germination

Example Sentence:
The gardening handbook recommends scarifying the seeds before planting them.

Did you know?
You get two words for the price of one with "scarify." The first "scarify" appeared in English in the 14th century with the meaning "to make scratches or cuts in" and later developed a figurative application of "cutting" someone emotionally. This word is ultimately derived from a Greek word meaning "to scratch an outline." The second homograph turned up in print in 1785 and gained currency in the 20th century. This "scarify" was formed by combining "scare" with "-ify," possibly as a combination of "scare" and "terrify," and it predictably means "to scare or frighten." Neither "scarify" is terribly common these days, but they do turn up on occasion.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
by scummy | 2008-01-31 01:04 | MW

shank's mare • \SHANKS-MAIR\

: one's own legs

Example Sentence:
We were determined to see the ruins, and when we found out the shuttle bus wasn't running that day, we traveled by shank's mare.

Did you know?
"A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!" Many travelers in centuries past would have agreed with King Richard's famous lines from Shakespeare's Richard III -- when you needed to travel any distance in the days before automobiles, you definitely wanted a horse. When one wasn't available, you had to rely on your built-in transportation equipment, your feet and legs. The word "shank" has been used to mean "the lower leg" since before the 12th century, and "shank's mare" first appeared in writing in the late 1700s. Another vivid expression connecting people and horses was "horse with ten toes," but that one is now relegated to history.
by scummy | 2008-01-31 01:03 | MW

neoteric • \nee-uh-TAIR-ik\

: recent in origin : modern

Example Sentence:
The gallery eschews traditional works of art in favor of more neoteric pieces, such as electric light installations and computer graphic displays.

Did you know?
An odd thing about "neoteric" is that this word for things that are modern and new is itself rather old. It's been part of English since at least 1596, and its roots go back even further -- to ancient Greek. We adapted the word from Late Latin "neotericus," which also means "recent." "Neotericus" in turn comes from Late Greek "neōterikos" and ultimately from Greek "neos," meaning "new" or "young." As old as its roots are, however, "neoteric" itself entered English later than its synonyms "modern" (which appeared earlier in the 16th century) and "newfangled" (which has been with us since the 15th century).
by scummy | 2008-01-31 01:01 | MW

invidious • \in-VID-ee-us\

1 : tending to cause discontent, animosity, or envy

2 : envious

3 a : of an unpleasant or objectionable nature : obnoxious
*b : of a kind to cause harm or resentment

Example Sentence:
"Petty arguments about what counts as serious art and what does not are invidious to the discipline of artistic criticism," wrote the professor.

Did you know?
Fittingly, "invidious" is a relative of "envy." Both are descendants of "invidia," the Latin word for "envy," which in turn comes from "invidēre," meaning "to look askance at" or "to envy." ("Invidious" descends from "invidia" by way of the Latin adjective "invidiosus," meaning "envious," whereas "envy" comes to English via the Anglo-French noun "envie.") These days, however, "invidious" is rarely used as a synonym for "envious." The preferred uses are primarily pejorative, describing things that are unpleasant (such as "invidious choices" and "invidious tasks") or worthy of scorn ("invidious remarks" or "invidious comparisons").

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
by scummy | 2008-01-31 01:00 | MW

biofuel • \bye-oh-FYOOL\

: a fuel (as wood or ethanol) composed of or produced from biological raw materials

Example Sentence:
Many people have begun to push for more research into biofuels, which they say would burn cleaner and be more sustainable than fossil fuel sources.

Did you know?
Since the early 19th century, "fossil fuel" has been used to refer to fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas which are formed from the remains of plants and animals which have lain in the earth for millions of years. In the 1970s, a new word, "biofuel," began to be used to describe a different kind of fuel, one taken from more contemporary organic matter. These fuels include ethanol, which can be derived from such products as corn and sugarcane, and biodiesel, which can be formed from vegetable oils. These organic sources are reflected in the prefix, "bio-," meaning "life" or "living organisms or tissue." The prefix "bio-" was borrowed from the Greek "bios," meaning "mode of life."
by scummy | 2008-01-31 00:59 | MW


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