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This week's theme
Words with nautical origins.

This week's words
mainstay
figurehead
steerage
limpet
keelhaul

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." These timeless words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French author and aviator, sum up what it means to lead. How tight a ship do you run? Are you the mainstay for your organization or just a figurehead?

This week we'll feature five words that have their origins in nautical terminology.

mainstay

PRONUNCIATION:
(MAYN-stay)

MEANING:
noun: A chief support or main part.

ETYMOLOGY:
On a sailing ship, the mainstay is a strong rope that secures the mainmast. The noun stay (a heavy rope) is from Old English.

USAGE:
"Syria's oil used to be the mainstay of the government's income, providing 70 percent of the country's export earnings. Now it is drying up so fast that Syria is expected to be a net importer of crude oil in just two years."
Nawara Mahfoud and Robert Worth; Syrians See an Economic Side to Peace; Daily News Egypt (Cairo); Aug 17, 2008.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
There's so much pollution in the air now that if it weren't for our lungs there'd be no place to put it all. -Robert Orben, magician (b. 1927)

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