Friday, June 6, 2008

Word of the Day

Today I want to talk about several resources available for finding definitions to words. One is available to University of Utah faculty, staff, and students through our subscription databases, and the other is open to anyone with internet access.

However, it wouldn't be fun if I didn't bring up some weird and wild words they've used for their Word of the Day.

The Oxford English Dictionary, or OED, is a database the Marriott Library pays for access to. It has not only a definition for each word, but the history of its use (which is the etymology of the word). Here are a few examples of strange words I found in the OED:

ampoule: a. A small sealed (glass) vessel used for storing sterilized materials prepared for injection. b. A similar vessel or phial containing other materials.

It was first used in 1644, and the OED gives you the example text it pulls that date from:

[1644 EVELYN Diary (1827) I. 108 The Monkes shew'd us the Holy Ampoule.

maculated: Spotted (now chiefly Biol.). Also (now rare): stained, soiled (lit. and fig.); defiled.

1646 SIR T. BROWNE Pseudodoxia Epidemica V. xxi. 272 For Warts we..commit any maculated part unto the touch of the dead., on the other hand, is freely available to anyone who has access to the internet. They also have a Word of the Day feature. I pulled a couple of examples from their archives for your amusement.

bagatelle \bag-uh-TEL\, noun:
1. A trifle; a thing of little or no importance.
2. A short, light musical or literary piece.
3. A game played with a cue and balls on an oblong table having cups or arches at one end.

\SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun:
A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.

Both of these dictionaries have RSS feeds for their Words of the Day. Click here for OED's and here for's. even has a feature where they will email you their word of the day or allow you to post it as a Facebook application.


Greg Hatch said...
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Greg Hatch said...

"Schadenfreude" is also a song from the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical winner "Avenue Q." You can hear a snippet of the song at their official soundtrack page at Sony BMG (jump to track 16).

Crystal Goldman said...

Oh my gosh! I love that musical!