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Dec 16, 2013
This week's theme
Verbs

This week's words
descant
hebetate
blandish
importune
colligate

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

A sentence has its cast of characters. Each word has a role. Let's call those roles parts of speech. What function do the various parts of speech perform? Nouns and pronouns name. Adjectives describe. Adverbs qualify.

The best of this lineup are verbs, always ready for action. Verbs do. They move the plot forward. Verbs bring life to the story. This week we'll bring you five words that are verbs (from Latin verbum: word).

descant

PRONUNCIATION:
(verb: des-KANT, dis-, noun: DES-kant)

MEANING:
verb intr.: 1. To talk tediously. 2. To sing or play a descant.
noun: 1. A comment on a subject. 2. An ornamental melody sung or played above a basic melody.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin discantus (refrain), from dis- (apart, away) + cantus (song), from canere (to sing). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kan- (sing), which also gave us hen, chant, accent, enchant, incentive, recant, cantor, and charm. Earliest documented use: 1380.

USAGE:
"These disappointments were descanted on, bitterly and frequently."
John Gross; Lessons of an Immoderate Master; The New York Review of Books; Jun 26, 1997.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don't come home at night. -Margaret Mead, anthropologist (1901-1978)

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