Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About | Media | Search | Contact  


Home

Today's Word

Subscribe

Archives



Nov 16, 2020
This week’s theme
Words derived from body

This week’s words
gambit
propugnaculum
flatfooted
consanguineous
ham-handed

Previous week’s theme
Words having all five vowels and in order
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

As a cushion is for the hip, what is for the elbow? Well, a little etymological dissection is in order to understand the anatomy of these linguistic parts.

The word cushion is from Latin coxa (hip, thigh), because that’s what a cushion was meant for. As it turned out, Romans had an elbow cushion as well, which they called cubital, from Latin cubitus (elbow). That’s where we got the word cubit, the unit of length equal to the length of the forearm.

These body parts have a way of showing up where you’d least expect them. This week we’ll see five words that owe their origins to the body, some obvious, others not.

gambit

PRONUNCIATION:
(GAM-bit)

MEANING:
noun:
1. An opening in which a minor piece is sacrificed to obtain a strategic advantage.
2. A maneuver used to secure an advantage.
3. A remark used to open or redirect a conversation.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Spanish gambito, from Italian gambetto (the act of tripping someone), from gamba (leg). Earliest documented use: 1656.

USAGE:
“This was a risky gambit for both cola rivals. But it paid off.”
Fire-Starter; The Economist (London, UK); Sep 26, 2020.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It has always seemed to me that the test of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised. -Chinua Achebe, writer and professor (16 Nov 1930-2013)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere

Donate

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

© 1994-2021 Wordsmith