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May 18, 2015
This week’s theme
Verbs

This week’s words
devolve
edify
parlay
espouse
acerbate

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

There are eight (or nine, depending on how you count) parts of speech in the English language, but this week we’ll focus on one: the verb. You can say the halls of A.Word.A.Day will be reverberating with verbs. The rest are verboten. Are we going overboard? Are we overbooking or overburdening the verb? Nah, it’s just the next five days.

devolve

PRONUNCIATION:
(di-VOLV)

MEANING:
verb tr., intr.: To transfer or be passed (duties, rights, powers, etc.) on to another.
verb intr.: To deteriorate or degenerate.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin devolvere (to roll down), from de- (down) + volvere (to roll). Ultimately from the Indo-European root wel- (to turn or roll), which also gave us waltz, revolve, valley, walk, vault, volume, wallet, helix, and voluble. Earliest documented use: 1420.

USAGE:
“Indonesia has devolved much authority to local government.”
Fanfare for the Common Man; The Economist (London, UK); Jul 26, 2014.

“The event devolved into violence on both sides.”
Nick Pinto; The Point of Order; The New York Times Magazine; Jan 18, 2015.

See more usage examples of devolve in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: 'The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair.' In these words he epitomized the history of the human race. -Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (18 May 1872-1970)

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