Word(s) of the Day

I am going to collect words of the day for today, June 27th 2018 and see what happens.

Teach Write #DWhabit: surface
@MerriamWebster: bedizen
dictionary.com:  farouche
@oxfordwords: zoomorphic
@oed : perfay
@VocabularyCom : collaborate
wordsmith.org @awad : emolument
wiktionary: latter-day


When we work through vocabulary words in class, I give students a 5 finger scale to rate their word knowledge before we start.

  1. I have never seen this word!
  2. I have seen this word, but I do not know what it means.
  3. I could probably use this word in a sentence correctly, but I cannot explain what it means.
  4. I can explain what it means, but I am not 100% sure.
  5. I could teach someone else about this word.

So, for today’s words:

  1. perfay
  2. bedizen, farouche
  3. zoomorphic, emolument
  4. latter-day
  5. collaborate, surface

I will even admit that bedizen tripped me up when I internally pronounced it (I would have said BEH-duh-zin with a schwa for all the vowels, but it is bih-DYE-zun!) Bedizen means “to dress or adorn gaudily” and if I were a student I would have to look up “gaudily” as well. When I was on the linked definition, I noticed there was link to a definition for kids which led me to Merriam Webster’s WordCentral, a dictionary for kids. It even has its own word of the day! Today’s was defiant. I know the definition of this well…I am writing this post while chasing around a defiant 3.5 year old. The WordCentral site has an outdated aesthetic, but it has word games and a rhyming dictionary. I think this could be a good site for students to bookmark!

Farouche means both WILD and SHY or LACKING SOCIAL GRACES which at first seems like a contradiction, until I thought of WILD in the context of the etymology, originally Latin foras meaning “out of doors”

The Old French adjective farocheforasche derives from the Late Latin forāsticus “belonging outside or out of doors” (i.e., not fit to be inside), a derivative of the adverb and prepositionforās (also forīs“(to the) outside, abroad.” A similar semantic development can be seen in savagefrom Middle French salvagesauvagefrom Medieval Latin salvāticus (Latin silvāticus“pertaining to the woods.” (dictionary.com)


Whoa, this is cool! I LOVED my linguistics class in college, and have fantasized about time traveling back to high school so I could do all my homework and go to college for linguistics, but instead I will nerd out with my students (and you!) about words and the way words develop.  Savage used to be synonymous with being wild or coming from the woods (Hey John the Savage, what’s up?) but for my students this year, it is more related to ruthless, badass, and fierce. Savage is used almost exclusively with positive connotation. Positive may not be the right word here, maybe more like…appreciative? If a student insults another, an observer saying, “Bro, that was savage,” is acknowledging the power of the insult in an almost admiring way. Now, I could be way off base here, but that is my experience this year at least. Who knows what new word developments I will learn about from next year’s students?

perfay (no not pronounced close to parfait) is archaic and was used in poetry in the 1800s, but is not in use anymore. It is pronounced (if I am reading the phonetic guide correctly) puh-fay with the stress on the second syllable.

 @OED Word of the day: perfay, int. By my faith; truly; indeed, certainly
@OED Word of the day: perfay, int. By my faith; truly; indeed, certainly

I will resist the temptation to start using this interjection (though I may not be able to control myself!

Zoomorphic means having or representing animal forms or gods of animal form. This would be a neat word to practice root/prefix/suffix knowledge. I would maybe use some of this list from thefreedictionary.com and see if students could guess at correct meanings using their knowledge of affixes! 

I only know the word “emolument” because of the news! Wordsmith.org has this as a note for the word, “Earlier an emolument was a miller’s fee for grinding corn. Today, emolument is what you get for the daily grind.”
Latter-day is inextricably associated with the Mormon Church in my head. Though it means “modern; recent” I probably would not think to use it as an everyday adjective.

Collaborate is one of those words that is used a lot, but rarely seen in practice effectively! I have to explain ad nauseam that collaborate means to WORK TOGETHER on something, not just work next to each other on the same product. Maybe if I break down the word using its etymology, students (and colleagues) will understand collaboration more deeply. If you haven’t used vocabulary.com with students yet, you should. When you look up a word, you get so much useful information!

screenshot from vocabulary.com page for "collaborate"
screenshot from vocabulary.com page for “collaborate”

And lastly, the @TeachWriteEDU word for the #DWHabit (Daily Writing Habit) is “surface” and I found this word to shift in my brain as I wrote this post. It was the first word I gathered today and my first thought was “oh, simple word. I can write about how every surface of my house is covered in crap.” And, while this is still true, I think I want to reflect on how I teach and learn about new words. Too often the knowledge my students and I attain about new words is just a surface definition. This helps my students only when they see the same exact word in the same exact context. I think it will be more beneficial for my students to study less words, but go more in depth for each word. The word surface alone could lead them to many more words. Just look at this screenshot from the Google definition!

screenshot from google definition of "surface"


Thank you for reading my rambling collection of words about words.

Trying to use words in context:

On the surface, latter-day educators collaborate often.
How many books of zoomorphic characters on your shelf?
Homecoming week? Halls contain teens bedizened for Tacky Tuesday.
Teachers demand emolument increase from their leaders, will it happen?
A farouche student, in the back; have you talked to them today? You should.
Dig below the surface. This should be constant work. Do not stop at the surface of a text, a lesson, a student. Keep learning, perfay!