Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ



Jun 6, 2011
This week's theme
Onomatopoeic words

This week's words
claque
ululate
susurrus
tintinnabulation
cockalorum

Add your two cents
to our discussion on language and words. Or, if you wish, use paise, pence, yen, pesos, piasters, etc. Log on at our bulletin board
Wordsmith Talk
Discuss
Feedback
RSS/XML
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

What does a dog's bark sound like? Ask someone this question and the answer would depend on what language that person speaks. To an English speaker it may be woof woof or ruff ruff, while a Japanese speaker would say it's wan wan, while to an Indian it sounds like bhow bhow, even if it's the same dog.

Sounds we hear conform to the aural palette we are familiar with. Onomatopoeic words are those that are formed by the imitation of sounds they describe. There are words coined to describe sounds, words such as beep, honk, and boom. There are animals named after their calls, such as cuckoo and gecko. This week we'll feature five words whose imitative origins may not always be so obvious.

claque

PRONUNCIATION:
(klak)

MEANING:
noun: A group of people hired to applaud at a performance.

ETYMOLOGY:
From French claque, from claquer (to clap), of imitative origin. Earliest documented use: 1864.

NOTES:
Although a claque is usually hired to applaud, sometimes it is also used to heckle at a rival's performance. Then there are moirologists (hired mourners at a funeral).

USAGE:
"The publicist even trained both the singer [Frank Sinatra] and his claques in the art of call-and-response."
James Kaplan; Frank; Doubleday; 2010.
Read this fascinating extract about claques from the above book.

See more usage examples of claque in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The hands that help are better far / Than lips that pray. / Love is the ever gleaming star / That leads the way, / That shines, not on vague worlds of bliss, / But on a paradise in this. -Robert Green Ingersoll, lawyer and orator (1833-1899)

A.Word.A.Day by email:

Subscribe

"The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace."

The New York Times

Sponsored by:

Give the Gift of Words

Share the magic of words. Send a gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day.

Anu on Words:
Writer Magazine
Globe & Mail

Interact:

Bulletin board
Wordsmith Talk

Moderated Chat
Wordsmith Chat

Readers' Voice
AWADmail

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 2014 Wordsmith