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May 2, 2012
This week's theme
Eponyms

This week's words
mentor
nestor
tartar
hector
satyr

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

tartar

PRONUNCIATION:
(TAHR-tuhr)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A fierce, uncontrollable person.
2. One who proves to be unexpectedly formidable. Usually used in the idiom "to catch a tartar".
3. A hard yellowish deposit that forms on the teeth.
4. A reddish deposit on the sides of wine casks.

ETYMOLOGY:
For 1, 2: A Tartar, more commonly called a Tatar, was a member of Mongolian and Turkish tribes who under the leadership of Genghis Khan ransacked much of Asia and Eastern Europe in the early 13th century. Earliest documented use: around 1386.
For 3, 4: From Latin tartarum, from Greek tartaron. Earliest documented use: around 1386.

USAGE:
"My mother was an amazingly gentle and cheerful person, but on racism she was a tartar and an Amazon."
Derek Cohen; Apartheid at the Edges; Sewanee Review (Tennessee); Fall 2010.

"[The racehorse Mad About You had] success a month ago, but she caught a tartar in John Hayden's Emily Blake."
Damien McElroy; Curtain Cruise Thrills Cumani; Irish Independent (Dublin); May 5, 2009.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same. -Viktor Frankl, author, neurologist and psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor (1905-1997)

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