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Oct 6, 2010
This week's theme
Words about relations

This week's words
nepotism
cozen
avuncular
cater-cousin
Dutch uncle

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

avuncular

PRONUNCIATION:
(uh-VUNG-kyuh-luhr)

MEANING:
adjective: In the manner of an uncle, in benevolence, affection, or good humor.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin avunculus (maternal uncle), diminutive of avus (grandfather). Ultimately from the Indo-European root awo- (an adult male relative), which is also the source of atavism, uncle, and ayah.

NOTES:
Originally the term referred to a mother's brother, from avunculus meaning maternal uncle (paternal uncle was patruus). What's fascinating is how it describes an uncle: avunculus, meaning a little grandfather. The word uncle is slang for a pawnbroker, so the word avuncular could also mean like a pawnbroker.
The female counterpart of the word is materteral, meaning auntlike.

USAGE:
"Daphne Merkin wrote that Madoff, with his avuncular charm, gave individual investors the sense of being part of an extended family."
Clark Hoyt; Behind a Byline, Family Ties; The New York Times; Apr 11, 2009.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit, and mean actions to fear. -Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)

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