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Latest episode: August 17, 2017 | 11:00 pm - waif

2228 episodes

Displaying episodes 2228 through 2208
waif (2:40) August 17, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 18, 2017 is:

waif • \WAYF\  • noun

1 a : a piece of property found (as washed up by the sea) but unclaimed 

b : (plural) stolen goods thrown away by a thief in flight

2 a : something found without an owner and especially by chance 

b : a stray person or animal; especially : a homeless child

3 : an extremely thin and usually young woman

Examples:

At the center of the novel is a parentless waif who is befriended by the first mate of a ship she is hiding aboard.

"Parker, playing a souped-up version of her trademark crazy-eyed waif, reprises her role as Georgie Burns, a character whose lack of a filter suggests a personality disorder in search of a diagnosis." — Charles McNulty, The Los Angeles Times, 7 July 2017

Did you know?

Waif itself is a stray, if we consider its first meaning the home from which it came. Tracing back to an Anglo-French adjective waif meaning "stray, unclaimed," the English noun waif referred in its earliest 14th century uses to unclaimed found items, such as those gone astray (think cattle) and those washed ashore (think jetsam), as well as to the king's (or lord's) right to such property. Stolen goods abandoned by a thief in flight eventually came to be referred to as waifs as well, as later did anything found without an owner and especially by chance. (It's interesting to note that the verb waive, used in modern English in phrases like "waive a fee" or "waive one's rights" comes from the same Anglo-French source as waif and was at one time used to mean "to throw away (stolen goods).") The emphasis on being found faded as waif came to be applied to any stray animal or person, and especially to a homeless child, and in the late 20th century the current most common meaning of "an extremely thin and usually young woman" developed.

oppugn (2:40) August 16, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 17, 2017 is:

oppugn • \uh-PYOON\  • verb

1 : to fight against

2 : to call in question

Examples:

"Carmel Valley speller Justin Song navigated the second and third rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee yesterday with a precision no one could oppugn." — Paul M. Krawzak, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 May 2008

"However, if [bicyclists] consider themselves excellent climbers, here's the real question: How fast can they ascend a hill or mountain? That's the real point to oppugn." — Ken Allen, The Morning Sentinel (Waterville, Maine), 16 Mar. 2013

Did you know?

Oppugn was first recorded in English in the 15th century. It came to Middle English from the Latin verb oppugnare, which in turn derived from the combination of ob-, meaning "against," and pugnare, meaning "to fight." Pugnare itself is descended from the same ancient word that gave Latin the word pugnus, meaning "fist." It's no surprise, then, that oppugn was adopted into English to refer to fighting against something or someone, either physically (as in "the dictatorship will oppugn all who oppose it") or verbally (as in "oppugn an argument"). Other descendants of pugnare in English include the equally aggressive pugnacious, impugn, repugnant, and the rare inexpugnable ("incapable of being subdued or overthrown").

perfunctory (2:40) August 15, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 16, 2017 is:

perfunctory • \per-FUNK-tuh-ree\  • adjective

1 : characterized by routine or superficiality : mechanical

2 : lacking in interest or enthusiasm

Examples:

Clearly exhausted after a long day on her feet, our server gave us only a perfunctory greeting before taking our drink orders.

"Yet avoiding the heat altogether and watching Netflix from the confines of your cool couch—even while performing a perfunctory sit-up or two—is not the way to stay healthy and active this summer." — Leslie Barker, The Dallas Morning News, 13 June 2017

Did you know?

Perfunctory is a word whose origins are found entirely in Latin. It first appeared in English in the late 16th century and is derived from the Late Latin perfunctorius, meaning "done in a careless or superficial manner." (Perfunctorius was also borrowed for the synonymous, and now archaic, English adjective perfunctorious at around the same time.) Perfunctorius comes from the earlier Latin perfunctus, a past participle of perfungi, meaning "to accomplish" or "to get through with." That verb is formed by combining the prefix per-, meaning "through," with the verb fungi, meaning "to perform." Fungi can be found in the roots of such words as function, defunct, and fungible.

lamster (2:40) August 14, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 15, 2017 is:

lamster • \LAM-ster\  • noun

: a fugitive especially from the law

Examples:

"After the Vivian Gordon furor died down, I began to think of going home. I needed money, I was bored with Miami, and tired of living the life of a lamster." — Polly Adler, A House Is Not a Home, 1953

"During his time as a lamster, Lepke was looked after by gangsters associated with a gang based in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn." — Marc Mappen, Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation, 2013

Did you know?

Lamsters as a class are probably as old as the law from which they flee, but the term lamster didn't sneak into our language until the early 1900s, less than ten years after the appearance of the earliest known evidence of the noun lam, meaning "sudden or hurried flight especially from the law" (as in the phrase "on the lam"). Both words have an old verb relation, though. Lam has meant "to beat soundly" or "to strike or thrash" since the late 16th century (and consequently gave us our verb lambaste), but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries it developed another meaning: "to flee hastily." The origins of the verb are obscure, but etymologists suggest that it is Scandinavian in origin and akin to the Old Norse lemja, meaning "to thrash."

bifurcate (2:40) August 13, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 14, 2017 is:

bifurcate • \BYE-fer-kayt\  • verb

: to divide or cause to divide into two branches or parts

Examples:

"If colleges don't begin to also focus on middle-income families, they will end up with campuses bifurcated by income that don't reflect the economic diversity of the United States." — Jeffrey J. Selingo, The Washington Post, 15 May 2017

"In the late 14th century [secretary] meant a 'person entrusted with secrets,' a trusted counselor, with some letter-writing and note-taking duties. The word has since bifurcated to refer either to the kind of secretary who nowadays prefers to be known as an executive assistant, thank you, or the kind who heads an executive department of the federal government." — Ruth Walker, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 June 2017

Did you know?

Yogi Berra, the baseball great who was noted for his head-scratching quotes, is purported to have said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." Yogi's advice might not offer much help when making tough decisions in life, but perhaps it will help you remember today's word, bifurcate. A road that bifurcates splits in two like the one in Yogi's adage. Other things can bifurcate as well, such as an organization that splits into two factions. Bifurcate derives from the Latin bifurcus, meaning "two-pronged," a combination of the prefix bi- ("two") and the noun furca ("fork"). Furca, as you can probably tell, gave us our word fork.

vermicular (2:40) August 12, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 13, 2017 is:

vermicular • \ver-MIK-yuh-ler\  • adjective

1 a : resembling a worm in form or motion

b : vermiculate

2 : of, relating to, or caused by worms

Examples:

"The 36-by-60 inch panel includes a strange botanical form at far right, and layers of misty white, blue and orange oil color partially obscure vermicular forms that seem to burrow into the painting's 'atmosphere.'" — Marc Awodey, Seven Days (Burlington, Vermont), 7–14 Apr. 2010

"Born recyclers, worms transform the plant material they eat into vermicular compost, otherwise known as worm castings—a fancy name for worm poo—coveted by farmers to enrich their garden soil." — Debbie Hightower, The Thomasville (North Carolina) Times, 7 Nov. 2015

Did you know?

What does the word vermicular have in common with the pasta on your plate? If you're eating vermicelli (a spaghetti-like pasta made in long thin strings) the answer is vermis, a Latin noun meaning "worm." If you dig deep enough, you'll find that vermis is the root underlying not only vermicular and vermicelli, but also vermiculate, which can mean either "full of worms" or "tortuous." It is also the source of vermin and worm, both of which in their earliest usage referred, despite their vermicular etymology, to any creeping or crawling creature, including wingless insects and reptiles.

temporize (2:40) August 11, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 12, 2017 is:

temporize • \TEM-puh-ryze\  • verb

1 : to act to suit the time or occasion : to yield to current or dominant opinion

2 : to draw out discussions or negotiations so as to gain time

Examples:

"The pontiff's recent declaration to that effect brought headlines but no action….  Francis wouldn't be the first leader who temporized before doing something that had to be done. Think of Lincoln, who vexed abolitionists by waiting two years after his election before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation." — Rich Barlow, WBUR.org, 5 June 2014

"Ostensibly, 'Dan in Real Life' is about how Dan and Marie … figure out how to deal with their mutual attraction, even as she's supposed to be on the arm of Dan's genial but dim brother Mitch …. Of course, this particular problem isn't beyond the purview of mature adults: You smolder, you ponder, you temporize, it gets messy, you deal." — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post, 26 Oct. 2007

Did you know?

Temporize comes from the Medieval Latin verb temporizare ("to pass the time"), which itself comes from the Latin noun tempus, meaning "time." Tempus is also the root of such words as tempo, contemporary, and temporal. If you need to buy some time, you might resort to temporizing—but you probably won't win admiration for doing so. Temporize can have a somewhat negative connotation. For instance, a political leader faced with a difficult issue might temporize by talking vaguely about possible solutions without actually doing anything. The point of such temporizing is to avoid taking definite—and possibly unpopular—action, in hopes that the problem will somehow go away. But the effect is often just to make matters worse.

Pandemonium (2:40) August 10, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 11, 2017 is:

Pandemonium • \pan-duh-MOH-nee-um\  • noun

1 : the capital of Hell in Milton's Paradise Lost

2 : the infernal regions : hell

3 : (not capitalized) a wild uproar : tumult

Examples:

The power failure occurred during rush hour, and with none of the traffic lights working, pandemonium ensued as drivers struggled to get home.

"Czernowin's score includes eruptions of orchestral, vocal, and electronic pandemonium that evoke with unnerving immediacy the chaos of battle and its aftermath." — Alexander M. Ross, The New Yorker, 15 May 2017

Did you know?

When John Milton needed a name for the gathering place of all demons for Paradise Lost, he turned to the classics as any sensible 17th-century writer would. Pandæmonium, as the capital of Hell is known in the epic poem, combines the Greek prefix pan-, meaning "all," with the Late Latin daemonium, meaning "evil spirit." (Daemonium itself traces back to the far more innocuous Greek word daimōn, meaning "spirit, deity.")  Over time, Pandæmonium (or Pandemonium) came to designate all of hell and was used as well for earthbound dens of iniquity. By the late-18th century, the word implied a place or state of confusion or uproar, and from there, it didn't take long for pandemonium to become associated with states of utter disorder and wildness.

élan (2:40) August 09, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 10, 2017 is:

élan • \ay-LAHN\  • noun

: vigorous spirit or enthusiasm

Examples:

Jeremy told the story of his trip to Mexico with such élan that by the next week people were begging him to share it again.

"The Waldorf has long had a reputation for elegance and élan, a reputation that began when it opened in 1931 as the largest, tallest and most expensive hotel ever built...." — James Barron, The New York Times, 25 Feb. 2017

Did you know?

Once upon a time, English speakers did not have élan (the word, that is; we have always had the potential for vigorous spirit). We had, however, the verb elance, meaning "to throw," that was used for the launching of darts, javelins, and similar weaponry. Elance is derived from the Middle French (s')eslancer, meaning "to rush or dash" (that is, "to hurl oneself forth"). Elance enjoyed only a short flight in English, largely falling into disuse by the mid-1800s, around which time English speakers picked up élan, another French word that traces back, via the Middle French noun eslan ("dash, rush"), to (s')eslancer. We copied élan in form from the French, but we dispensed with the French sense of a literal "rush" or "dash," retaining the sense of enthusiastic animation that we sometimes characterize as dash.

garble (2:40) August 08, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 9, 2017 is:

garble • \GAR-bul\  • verb

1 : to sift impurities from

2 a : to alter or distort as to create a wrong impression or change the meaning

b : to introduce textual error into (a message) by inaccurate encipherment, transmission, or decipherment

Examples:

The best man was nervous and garbled the inspirational quote at the end of his speech.

"Some calls are garbled, making it difficult for dispatchers to understand the caller." — Joe Wilson, quoted in The Cleveland Daily Banner, 5 June 2017

Did you know?

Garble developed from Late Latin cribellare, a verb meaning "to sift." Arabic speakers borrowed cribellare as gharbala, and the Arabic word passed into Old Italian as garbellare; both of these words also meant "to sift." When the word first entered Middle English as garbelen, its meaning stayed close to the original; it meant "to sort out the best." But that sort of sifting can cause a distortion, and in early Modern English garble came to mean "to distort the sound or meaning of."

immense (2:40) August 07, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 8, 2017 is:

immense • \ih-MENSS\  • adjective

1 : marked by greatness especially in size or degree; especially : transcending ordinary means of measurement

2 : supremely good

Examples:

"At the bridge site, teams of workers watched over drills the size of redwood trees, which rammed steel piles into the seafloor. The scale of construction was almost too immense to comprehend." — Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 29 May 2017

"Sometimes it's very humorous and camp and silly. Strutting around in leather and furs and huge metal helmets and what have you. Other days it's exciting. It's exciting because it somehow harks back to Old Hollywood and the idea of being in something immense and epic." — Jude Law, quoted in The Los Angeles Times, 23 Apr. 2017

Did you know?

Just how big is something if it is immense? Huge? Colossal? Humongous? Ginormous? Or merely enormous? Immense is often used as a synonym of all of the above and, as such, can simply function as yet another way for English speakers to say "really, really, really big." Immense is also used, however, in a sense which goes beyond merely really, really, really big to describe something that is so great in size or degree that it transcends ordinary means of measurement. This sense harks back to the original sense of immense for something which is so tremendously big that it has not been or cannot be measured. This sense reflects the word's roots in the Latin immensus, from in- ("un-") and mensus, the past participle of metiri ("to measure").

schadenfreude (2:40) August 06, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 7, 2017 is:

schadenfreude • \SHAH-dun-froy-duh\  • noun

: enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others

Examples:

Elaine couldn't help but feel a tinge of schadenfreude when her chief rival was kicked off the soccer team.

"Much attention (and a decent amount of schadenfreude) has been paid to the relative erosion of the NFL's massive television ratings in recent years…." — Chad Finn, The Boston Globe, 26 May 2017

Did you know?

Schadenfreude is a compound of the German nouns Schaden, meaning "damage" or "harm," and Freude, meaning "joy," so it makes sense that schadenfreude means joy over some harm or misfortune suffered by another. "What a fearful thing is it that any language should have a word expressive of the pleasure which men feel at the calamities of others," wrote Richard Trench of Dublin, an archbishop with literary predilections, of the German Schadenfreude in 1852; perhaps it was just as well he didn't live to see the word embraced by English speakers before the century was out.

chthonic (2:40) August 05, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 6, 2017 is:

chthonic • \THAH-nik\  • adjective

: of or relating to the underworld : infernal

Examples:

"In Greek mythology, the Eumenides were three goddesses tasked with protecting the cause of justice.… In Aeschylus' tragedies, they are chthonic, ambiguous forces. They do not tire and they do not stop; their persistence … feels almost monstrous." — Katy Waldman, Slate, July/August 2017

"Yet Dean's music inducts us more gently, with a deep, almost chthonic orchestral rumble, punctuated by occasional drum and electronic sounds as we first see young Hamlet, head in his hands, almost paralysed at the edge of his father's grave." — John Carmody, The Australian, 14 June 2017

Did you know?

Chthonic might seem a lofty and learned word, but it's actually pretty down-to-earth in its origin and meaning. It comes from chthōn, which means "earth" in Greek, and it is associated with things that dwell in or under the earth. It is most commonly used in discussions of mythology, particularly underworld mythology. Hades and Persephone, who reign over the underworld in Greek mythology, might be called "chthonic deities," for example. Chthonic has broader applications, too. It can be used to describe something that resembles a mythological underworld (e.g., "chthonic darkness"), and it is sometimes used to describe earthly or natural things (as opposed to those that are elevated or celestial).

regimen (2:40) August 04, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 5, 2017 is:

regimen • \REJ-uh-mun\  • noun

1 a : a systematic plan (as of diet, therapy, or medication) especially when designed to improve and maintain the health of a patient

b : a regular course of action and especially of strenuous training

2 : government, rule

3 : the characteristic behavior or orderly procedure of a natural phenomenon or process

Examples:

Sherry's personal trainer at the gym started her on a workout regimen of 30 minutes on the treadmill followed by 30 minutes of weight training.

"Her exchanges with the pharmacy staff served as informal check-ins that gave her a little extra help adhering to an unfamiliar medication regimen." — Stacy Torres, The New York Times, 23 June 2017

Did you know?

We borrowed regimen straight from Latin, spelling and all—but in Latin, the word simply meant "rule" or "government." In English, it usually refers to a system of rules or guidelines, often for living a healthy life or taking a regular dose of exercise. The Latin regimen derives from another Latin word, the verb regere, which means "to lead straight" or "to rule." If you trace straight back from regere, you'll find that regimen has plenty of lexical kin, including correct, erect, region, rule, and surge. If you are using the training sense of regimen, be careful not to confuse the word with regiment, another regere descendant, which is used for a military unit.

manumit (2:40) August 03, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 4, 2017 is:

manumit • \man-yuh-MIT\  • verb

: to release from slavery

Examples:

"This 27.5-acre parcel was purchased by an African-American man ... who was manumitted from slavery by his father...." — Janice Hayes-Williams, The Capital (Annapolis, Maryland), 17 May 2013

"A slave woman and her children were manumitted by her husband, who had probably bought them to free them." — Michael E. Ruane, The Chicago Tribune, 1 Mar. 2017

Did you know?

To set someone free from captivity is in effect to release that person from the hand, or control, of the captor. You can use this analogy to remember that manumit derives ultimately from the Latin noun manus, meaning "hand," and the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to let go" or "send." The two roots joined hands in Latin to form the verb manumittere (meaning "to free from slavery"), which in turn passed into Anglo-French as manumettre and eventually into Middle English as manumitten. Manus has handed down other words to English as well. One of them is emancipate, which is both a relative and synonym of manumit.

splenetic (2:40) August 02, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 3, 2017 is:

splenetic • \splih-NET-ik\  • adjective

: marked by bad temper, malevolence, or spite

Examples:

Drew emailed the article to Kara, warning her to avoid the splenetic comments at the bottom of the page.

"On the basis of his excoriating blog—which exposes 'lies, pretensions and stupidity in the world of food'—I had been expecting a bilious, splenetic man with wild eyes, his skin covered in tattoos. Instead, I'm sat across from a mild-mannered nerdy type with a tidy beard and black-framed spectacles." — Tim Lewis, The Guardian, 18 June 2017

Did you know?

In early Western physiology, a person's physical qualities and mental disposition were believed to be determined by the proportion of four bodily humors: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. The last of these was believed to be secreted by the spleen, causing feelings of disposition ranging from intense sadness (melancholia) to irascibility. This now-discredited association explains how the use of splenetic (deriving from the Late Latin spleneticus and the Latin splen, meaning "spleen") came to mean both "bad-tempered" and "given to melancholy" as well as "of or relating to the spleen." In later years, the "melancholy" sense fell out of use, but the sense pertaining to ill humor or malevolence remains with us today.

arbitrary (2:40) August 01, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 2, 2017 is:

arbitrary • \AHR-buh-trair-ee\  • adjective

1 : depending on individual discretion (as of a judge) and not fixed by law

2 : autocratic, despotic

3 a : based on or determined by individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity or the intrinsic nature of something

b : existing or coming about seemingly at random or by chance or as a capricious and unreasonable act of will

Examples:

"He had wanted to do something sudden and arbitrary, something unexpected and refined…." — Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, 1881

"Most of The Economist's style book entry on hyphens consists of seemingly arbitrary rulings on disputable cases: 'non-existent' but 'nonaligned,' 'arch-rival,' but 'archangel.' …  The overarching rule is that, at the very least, you should be consistent, so that readers don't find 'arch-rival' and 'archrival' on the same page." — The Economist, 10 June 2017

Did you know?

Arbitrary is derived from the same source as arbiter. The Latin word arbiter means "judge," and English adopted it, via Anglo-French, with the meaning "one who judges a dispute"; it can now also be used for anyone whose judgment is respected. Arbitrary traces back to the Latin adjective arbitrarius ("done by way of legal arbitration"), which itself comes from arbiter. In English arbitrary first meant "depending upon choice or discretion" and was specifically used to indicate the sort of decision (as for punishment) left up to the expert determination of a judge rather than defined by law. Today, it can also be used for anything determined by or as if by a personal choice or whim.

diminution (2:40) July 31, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 1, 2017 is:

diminution • \dim-uh-NOO-shun\  • noun

: the act, process, or an instance of becoming gradually less (as in size or importance) : the act, process, or an instance of diminishing : decrease

Examples:

After seeing a diminution in his restaurant's profits for the third quarter in a row, George reluctantly set about revising his business model.

"Of course, the overall diminution of the newspaper in size and circulation has led to savings in paper consumption." — David W. Dunlap, The New York Times, 2 June 2017

Did you know?

We find written evidence for diminution going back to the 14th century, including use in Geoffrey Chaucer's Middle English poetical work Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer used "maken dyminucion" ("make diminution") in contrast to the verb "encrece" ("increase"). Diminution came to English by way of Anglo-French from Latin. Its Latin ancestor deminuere ("to diminish") is also an ancestor of the English verb diminish, which entered the language in the 15th century, and the related diminishment, a synonym of diminution that English speakers have been using since the 16th century.

plausible (2:40) July 30, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 31, 2017 is:

plausible • \PLAW-zuh-bul\  • adjective

1 : seemingly fair, reasonable, or valuable but often not so

2 : superficially pleasing or persuasive

3 : appearing worthy of belief

Examples:

One problem with the horror movie is that the plot is barely plausible—there was no good reason for the kids to enter the abandoned mansion to begin with.

"Legends of giant squid attacking vessels on the open ocean are great nightmare fuel, even if they never truly occurred. But the sight of a real-life giant squid wrapping its tentacles around a man’s paddleboard, as seen in a recent video ..., makes those old myths certainly seem plausible." — Eric Grundhauser, Atlas Obscura, 20 June 2017

Did you know?

Today the word plausible usually means "reasonable" or "believable," but it once held the meanings "worthy of being applauded" and "approving." It comes to us from the Latin adjective plausibilis ("worthy of applause"), which in turn derives from the verb plaudere, meaning "to applaud or clap." Other plaudere descendants in English include applaud, plaudit (the earliest meaning of which was "a round of applause"), and explode (from Latin explodere, meaning "to drive off the stage by clapping").

bona fides (2:40) July 29, 2017 | 11:00 pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 30, 2017 is:

bona fides • \boh-nuh-FYE-deez\  • noun

1 : good faith : sincerity

2 : the fact of being genuine

3 : evidence of one's good faith or genuineness

4 : evidence of one's qualifications or achievements

Examples:

"While there are a myriad of other entrepreneurial self-help and motivational books, [William] Pickard said 'Millionaire Moves' is different in that he has the bona fides and balance sheet." — Mary M. Chapman, The Detroit News, 12 June 2017

"My grandfather Archie was a coal miner and a hard man when he needed to be. ... But I have no true working-class bona fides. My father attended West Virginia University law school and did well. My siblings and I had tennis lessons and orthodontia." — Dwight Garner, Esquire, 10 Jan. 2017

Did you know?

Bona fides looks like a plural word in English, but in Latin, it's a singular noun that literally means "good faith." When bona fides entered English, it at first stayed very close to its Latin use—it was found mostly in legal contexts and it meant "honesty or lawfulness of purpose," just as it did in Latin. It also retained its singular construction. Using this original sense one might speak of "a claimant whose bona fides is unquestionable." But in the 20th century, use of bona fides began to widen, and it began to appear with a plural verb in certain contexts. For example, a sentence such as "the informant's bona fides were ascertained" is now possible.



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