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Oct 13, 2011
This week's theme
Negative words

This week's words
disingenuous
picaresque
venal
miasma
vituperation

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

miasma

PRONUNCIATION:
(my-AZ-muh, mee-)
plural miasmas, miasmata (my-AZ-muh-tuh, mee-)

MEANING:
noun:
1. Noxious emissions: smoke, vapors, etc., especially those from decaying organic matter.
2. An oppressive or unpleasant atmosphere.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek miasma (pollution, defilement), from miainein (to pollute). Earliest documented use: 1665.

NOTES:
Earlier it was believed that many diseases were caused by bad air from decomposing organic matter, as in a swamp. Malaria, for example, is named from Italian mala aria (bad air). The germ theory of disease has put the bad air theory to rest.

USAGE:
"A miasma of smoke from wildfires cloaked the sweltering Russian capital."
Jim Heintz; Fires Lay Ghostly Shroud of Smoke on Moscow; Associated Press (New York); Aug 6, 2010.

"The region is still wobbling in the miasma of corruption."
Bobi Odiko; Region Still Wobbling in Corruption; East African Business Week (Tanzania); Aug 4, 2010.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. -Nelson Mandela, activist, South African president, Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1918)

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