Rank #1: teleological
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 10, 2019 is:
teleological • \tel-ee-uh-LAH-jih-kul\ • adjective
: exhibiting or relating to design or purpose especially in nature
"The standard story about mass printing is a story of linear, teleological progress. It goes like this: Before Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, books were precious objects, handwritten by scribes and available primarily in Latin. Common people … were left vulnerable to exploitation by powerful gatekeepers—landed élites, oligarchs of church and state—who could use their monopoly on knowledge to repress the masses. After Gutenberg, books became widely available, setting off a cascade of salutary movements and innovations…." — Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 23 Sept. 2019
"A team of psychology researchers at Boston University (BU) asked chemists, geologists and physicists … to evaluate explanations for different natural phenomena. The statements included purpose-based (or teleological) explanations such as 'Trees produce oxygen so that animals can breathe,' or 'The Earth has an ozone layer in order to protect it from UV light.' Scientists who were not under time pressure tended to accurately reject these purpose-based explanations. Meanwhile, scientists who were instructed to assess the statements quickly were more likely to endorse these teleological explanations…." — Live Science, 29 Oct. 2012
Did you know?
Teleological (which comes to us, by way of New Latin, from the Greek root tele-, telos, meaning "end or purpose") and its close relative teleology both entered English in the 18th century, followed by teleologist in the 19th century. Teleology has the basic meaning of "the study of ends or purposes." A teleologist attempts to understand the purpose of something by looking at its results. A teleological philosopher might argue that we should judge whether an act is good or bad by seeing if it produces a good or bad result, and a teleological explanation of evolutionary changes claims that all such changes occur for a definite purpose.
Nov 10 2019
Rank #2: armistice
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 11, 2019 is:
armistice • \AHR-muh-stus\ • noun
: temporary stopping of open acts of warfare by agreement between the opponents : truce
The Korean War ended with an armistice signed in July of 1953, though a permanent peace accord was never reached.
"[Ralph] Bunche, a Howard University professor, was an African-American scholar and diplomat who achieved prominence in 1949 after negotiating armistice agreements between Israel and four Arab states, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize." — Richard Freedman, The Vallejo (California) Times-Herald, 24 Sept. 2019
Did you know?
Armistice descends from Latin sistere, meaning "to come to a stand" or "to cause to stand or stop," combined with arma, meaning "weapons." An armistice, therefore, is literally a cessation of arms. Armistice Day is the name that was given to the holiday celebrated in the United States on November 11 before it was renamed Veterans Day by Congress in 1954. The original name refers to the agreement between the Allied Powers and Germany to end hostilities that constituted the First World War—an agreement designated to take effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Nov 11 2019
Rank #3: aphorism
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 9, 2019 is:
aphorism • \AF-uh-riz-um\ • noun
1 : a concise statement of a principle
3 : an ingeniously terse style of expression
"Michael sighed…. He had known that his mother had told Gina that cryptic aphorism, but he'd long since forgotten and could not think why it had any particular significance, now. No more significance than his father's cryptic aphorism: What are people for, except to let you down." — Joyce Carol Oates (as Rosamond Smith), Snake Eyes, 1992
"'Brevity is the soul of wit,' Shakespeare's Polonius says, issuing the greatest unintentional aphorism in literature: at the time, scholars say, the line meant merely that concision is the essence of useful intelligence, and, of course, it was uttered as part of a deliberately long-winded speech. But it now captures … a subtler truth: a joke is improved by compression." — Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 15 July 2019
Did you know?
Aphorism was originally used in the world of medicine. Credit Hippocrates, the Greek physician regarded as the father of modern medicine, with influencing our use of the word. He used aphorismos (a Greek ancestor of aphorism meaning "definition" or "aphorism") in titling a book outlining his principles on the diagnosis and treatment of disease. That volume offered many examples that helped to define aphorism, beginning with the statement that starts the book's introduction: "Life is short, Art long, Occasion sudden and dangerous, Experience deceitful, and Judgment difficult." English speakers originally used the term mainly in the realm of the physical sciences but eventually broadened its use to cover principles in other fields.
Nov 09 2019
Rank #4: lyric
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 8, 2019 is:
lyric • \LEER-ik\ • adjective
1 a : suitable for singing to the lyre or for being set to music and sung
b : of, relating to, or being drama set to music; especially : operatic
2 a : expressing direct usually intense personal emotion especially in a manner suggestive of song
3 of an opera singer : having a light voice and a melodic style
Critics are praising the novel as a lyric masterpiece that bravely lays out the emotional tensions experienced by its young protagonist.
"Norgren's encores were dazzling, as the cosmic cowboy tune 'The Power' combined psychedelic guitar lines and his headlong rush of lyric imagery careening into the chorus…." — Jay N. Miller, The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Massachusetts), 29 Sept. 2019
Did you know?
To the ancient Greeks, anything lyrikos was appropriate to the lyre. That elegant stringed instrument was highly regarded by the Greeks and was used to accompany intensely personal poetry that revealed the thoughts and feelings of the poet. When the adjective lyric, a descendant of lyrikos, was adopted into English in the 1500s, it too referred to things pertaining or adapted to the lyre. Initially, it was applied to poetic forms (such as elegies, odes, or sonnets) that express strong emotion, to poets who write such works, or to things meant to be sung. Over time, it was extended to anything musical or rhapsodic. Nowadays, lyric is also used as a noun naming either a type of poem or the words of a song.
Nov 08 2019