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Feb 6, 2012
This week's theme
Words to describe people

This week's words
wastrel
lummox
dilettante
roue
poseur

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

"I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am." Those candid words of Samuel Johnson, lexicographer extraordinaire, provide a perceptive observation on the human condition. A language is a mirror of its people.

As a disinterested record of the language, a dictionary serves as an accurate window to the culture. It's not surprising that there are more words to describe people who fall on the wrong side than on the good. In this week's AWAD we'll look at words for people on both sides.

wastrel

PRONUNCIATION:
(WAY-struhl)

MEANING:
noun: A good-for-nothing, wasteful person.

ETYMOLOGY:
Via French from Latin vastare (to lay waste), from vastus (desert, empty) + -rel (a diminutive or pejorative suffix). Earliest documented use: 1589.

USAGE:
"With Greece at the center of a cyclone that threatens the global economy, foreign citizens believe that their taxes have been raised to bail out the wastrel Greeks."
Nikos Konstandaras; Orwell's Elephant; Kathimerini (Athens, Greece); Oct 3, 2011.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it. -Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher (1905-1980)

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