March challenge: dictionary words

31 Mar 2018 | personal, TIL

A challenge for March was to find and use a new word every day. It was a fun one, and almost certainly a useful one as well. I used both the dictionary (Oxford or Webster Pocket - whatever was closer), and Merriam-Webster’s word of the day feature.

Here are some of them with either recent example, or with the Webster word-history feature:

Abet (March 2nd)

(verb): to assist or support (someone); especially: to assist, encourage, instigate, or support with criminal intent in attempting or carrying out a crime

McFall's charge of aiding and _abetting_ grand theft stems from an incident on Dec. 17, 2016, when he's accused of advising Rick Grimes that if Grimes were to take horses without force, McFall would not arrest him for theft.

Woolgathering (March 7th)

(noun): indulgence in idle daydreaming

Woolgathering once literally referred to the act of gathering loose tufts of wool that had gotten caught on bushes and fences as sheep passed by. As you might imagine, woolgathering was not the most profitable of enterprises; its practitioners must have seemed to wander aimlessly, gaining little for their efforts. In the mid-16th century, woolgathering began to appear in figurative phrases such as "my wits went a woolgathering"—in other words, "my mind went wandering aimlessly." From there, it wasn't long before the word woolgathering came to suggest foolish or purposeless mind-wandering.

Bird-dog (March 8th)

(verb) to watch closely

People began using bird-dog as a verb meaning "to closely watch someone or something" or "to doggedly seek out someone or something" in the early 20th century. Both meanings reflect skills likely to be possessed by a well-trained bird dog—that is, a hunting dog trained to hunt or retrieve birds. By the 1930s, bird-dogging was being used specifically as a term for stealing someone else's date. And, not long after that, it began to be used for the scouting out of customers or prospective talent. The noun bird dog refers to the canines one would expect, and is also used as a name for the date stealers and scouts who do the bird-dogging.

Extol (March 31st)

(verb) to praise enthusiastically

Found in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale.

Hogwash (March 27th)

(noun) Nonsense; found in Artemis Fowl’s first adventure.

Misogyny (March 26th)

(noun) the hatred of women

This one is very interesting, because for a very brief period of time on the Oxford dictionary, there was a definition that said "the hatred of marriage", which I thought was funny.

Haggle (March 15th)

(verb) to dispute or bargain over a cost


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