Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

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


Home

Today's Word

Subscribe

Archives



Aug 8, 2016
This week’s theme
Contranyms

This week’s words
dabster
salad days
depthless
grog
sententious

The gift of words
Send a gift subscription
It takes a minute! It’s free.
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Many years ago, when I worked in the corporate world, I once had a boss whose favorite response to most questions was, “Well, the answer is yes and no.” While life often has gray areas, straddling the middle doesn’t lead us anywhere.

Each of this week’s words has two opposite meanings. In a way, these words are like humans: often contradictory, taking both sides, etc. Context helps. With context, we may be able to find out where they stand.

dabster

PRONUNCIATION:
(DAB-stuhr)

MEANING:
noun:
1. An expert.
2. A bungler.

ETYMOLOGY:
From dab (an expert) + -ster (denoting a person engaged in some activity; originally a feminine suffix, also used as a diminutive and derogatory suffix). Earliest documented use: 1708.
Note: The first sense is more popular in the UK, while the second in the US.

USAGE:
“She’s a dabster at bow-ties! At home all the boys used to go to her for the final touch.”
Ruby Ayres; One Woman Too Many; Bloomsbury; 2011.

“No, I don’t claim that, for I am not a genius; in fact, I am a very indifferent amateur, a slouchy dabster, a mere artistic sarcasm.”
Mark Twain; The American Claimant; Charles L. Webster; 1892.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
When I can look Life in the eyes, / Grown calm and very coldly wise, / Life will have given me the Truth, / And taken in exchange---my youth. -Sara Teasdale, poet (8 Aug 1884-1933)

A.Word.A.Day by email:

Subscribe

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

The New York Times

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

© 1994-2017 Wordsmith