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Jun 18, 2012
This week's theme
Back-formations

This week's words
adulate
sere
ablate
esthesia
auscultate

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? We can ponder endlessly without ever solving that paradox. But we do know the origins of this week's words.

They all are made by a process known as back-formation. In this process a word is coined by removing an actual or supposed affix. For example, we coined the verb emote after the noun emotion (which is from Latin movere: to move).

But, come to think of it, we may be able to solve the unanswered question with the help of etymology. The first documented use of the word egg is from the year 805, while chicken is attested from 950. The answer remains the same even if we use the word hen instead. That too is from 950.

adulate

PRONUNCIATION:
(AJ-uh-layt)

MEANING:
verb tr.: To flatter or admire slavishly.

ETYMOLOGY:
Back-formation from adulation, from Latin adulari (to flatter, to fawn upon, like a dog wagging its tail). Earliest documented use: 1777; adulation is from around 1400.

USAGE:
"Media will continue to adulate and fawn before celebrities' feet, like abject courtiers in an imperial palace."
Kevin Myers; The Words 'Celebrity' and 'Ireland' Belong in the Same Sentence; Irish Independent (Dublin, Ireland); Sep 30, 2010.

See more usage examples of adulate in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
If you write to impress it will always be bad, but if you write to express it will be good. -Thornton Wilder, writer (1897-1975)

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