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Apr 23, 2012
This week's theme
Words from fencing

This week's words
foible
forte
elan
riposte
touché

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

At one time learning how to wield a sword was an essential part of a classical education for a man. Thankfully we have come a long way from those days when every problem had to be solved by picking up a weapon.

Yet, traces of that time are still with us in the form of words about fencing (from the same root as defense), and swords that we use without realizing their origins.

Enjoy this week's words about swords, but remember even words can have sharp edges, even words can hurt. It doesn't take much to turn words into a sword. Use them with caution, and use them only for good.

foible

PRONUNCIATION:
(FOI-buhl)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A minor weakness or an idiosyncrasy in someone's character.
2. The weaker, upper part of a sword blade.

ETYMOLOGY:
From obsolete French foible (feeble), from Latin flere (to weep). Earliest documented use: before 1648. Also see forte.

USAGE:
"Despite all our faults and foibles, human beings are apparently pretty good at sharing and cooperating."
Faye Flam; Humans Are More Cooperative Than Chimps; The Philadelphia Inquirer; Mar 2, 2012.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure." -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

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