Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 30, 2016 is:
littoral \LIT-uh-rul\ adjective
: of, relating to, or situated or growing on or near a shore especially of the sea
The report shows dramatic improvement in the condition of the state's littoral waters since the cleanup effort began.
"But this project will permanently add new sand to the beach and dune system of Dauphin Island's East End, and the new sand will stay in the littoral system for centuries." — Scott Douglass, The Mobile (Alabama) Register, 6 Mar. 2016
Did you know?
You're most likely to encounter littoral in contexts relating to the military and marine sciences. A littoral combat ship is a fast and easily maneuverable combat ship built for use in coastal waters. And in marine ecology, the littoral zone is a coastal zone characterized by abundant dissolved oxygen, sunlight, nutrients, and generally high wave energies and water motion. Littoral can also be found as a noun referring to a coastal region or, more technically, to the shore zone between the high tide and low tide points. The adjective is the older of the two, dating from the mid-17th century; the noun dates from the early 19th century. The word comes to English from Latin litoralis, itself from litor- or litus, meaning "seashore."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 29, 2016 is:
flounder \FLOUN-der\ verb
1 : to struggle to move or obtain footing : thrash about wildly
2 : to proceed or act clumsily or ineffectually
"The four Royal Air Force pilots ditched their broken bomber and dropped into the North Sea, near Britain. It was February 23, 1942…. Floundering in the frigid water, the pilots released their last hope: a tiny, bedraggled carrier pigeon named Winkie." — Sarah Kaplan, The Washington Post, 9 June 2016
"But She-Ra's sales floundered from the start. Roger Sweet, a Mattel toy creator and the author of Mastering the Universe, estimated her total sales at $60 million, an anemic number compared with He-Man ($2 billion) or Barbie ($350 million)." — Maria Teresa Hart, The Atlantic, 16 June 2016
Did you know?
Despite the fact that flounder is a relatively common English verb, its origins in the language remain obscure. It is thought that it may be an alteration of an older verb, founder. To founder is to become disabled, to give way or collapse, or to come to grief or to fail. In the case of a waterborne vessel, to founder is to sink. The oldest of these senses of founder, "to become disabled," was also used, particularly in reference to a horse and its rider, for the act of stumbling violently or collapsing. It may have been this sense of founder that later appeared in altered form as flounder in the sense of "to stumble."
On this day in 1958, the U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian agency responsible for coordinating Americaâs activities in space. NASA has since sponsored space expeditions, both human and mechanical, that have yielded vital information about the solar system and universe. It has also launched numerous earth-orbiting satellites that have been instrumental in everything from weather forecasting to navigation to global communications.
NASA was created in response to the Soviet Unionâs October 4, 1957 launch of its first satellite, Sputnik I. The 183-pound, basketball-sized satellite orbited the earth in 98 minutes. The Sputnik launch caught Americans by surprise and sparked fears that the Soviets might also be capable of sending missiles with nuclear weapons from Europe to America. The United States prided itself on being at the forefront of technology, and, embarrassed, immediately began developing a response, signaling the start of the U.S.-Soviet space race.
On November 3, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik II,which carrieda dog named Laika. In December, America attempted to launch a satellite of its own, called Vanguard, but it exploded shortly after takeoff. On January 31, 1958, things went better with Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite to successfully orbit the earth. In July of that year, Congress passed legislation officially establishing NASA from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and other government agencies, and confirming the countryâs commitment to winning the space race. In May 1961, President John F. Kennedydeclared thatAmerica should put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. On July 20, 1969, NASAâs Apollo 11 mission achieved that goal and made history when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, saying âThatâs one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.â
NASA has continued to make great advances in space exploration since the first moonwalk, including playing a major part in the construction of the International Space Station. The agency has also suffered tragic setbacks, however, such as the disasters that killed the crews of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986 and the Columbia space shuttle in 2003. In 2004, President George Bush challenged NASA to return to the moon by 2020 and establish âan extended human presenceâ there that could serve as a launching point for âhuman missions to Mars and to worlds beyond.â
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 28, 2016 is:
numinous \NOO-muh-nus\ adjective
2 : filled with a sense of the presence of divinity : holy
3 : appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense : spiritual
Pilgrims to the shrine spoke to the congregation about their numinous experiences.
"… the stories, different as they were from one another, shared a sense of horror as something numinous and elusive, too tricky to be approached head-on." — Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times, 5 June 2016
Did you know?
Numinous is from the Latin word numen, meaning "divine will" or "nod" (it suggests a figurative nodding, of assent or of command, of the divine head). English speakers have been using numen for centuries with the meaning "a spiritual force or influence." We began using numinous in the mid-1600s, subsequently endowing it with several senses: "supernatural" or "mysterious" (as in "possessed of a numinous energy force"), "holy" (as in "the numinous atmosphere of the catacombs"), and "appealing to the aesthetic sense" (as in "the numinous nuances of her art"). We also created the nouns numinousness and numinosity, although these are rare.
Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution.
Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts, where new state governments, based on universal manhood suffrage, were to be established. Thus began the period known as Radical Reconstruction, which saw the 14th Amendment, which had been passed by Congress in 1866, ratified in July 1868. The amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of African American citizenship by stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside.” The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the “equal protection of the laws.”
In the decades after its adoption, the equal protection clause was cited by a number of African American activists who argued that racial segregation denied them the equal protection of law. However, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that states could constitutionally provide segregated facilities for African Americans, so long as they were equal to those afforded white persons. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which announced federal toleration of the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 27, 2016 is:
doff \DAHF\ verb
1 a : to remove (an article of wear) from the body
b : to take off (the hat) in greeting or as a sign of respect
2 : to rid oneself of : put aside
We'd only planned to stop briefly at the pond, but the children couldn't resist doffing their shoes and were quickly waist-deep in the cool water.
"He received a standing ovation when he batted in the second inning. He stepped out of the batter's box and doffed his helmet to the 36,491 fans." — Michael Kelly, The Boston Herald, 28 June 2016
Did you know?
Time was, people talked about doffing and donning articles of wear with about the same frequency. But in the mid-19th century the verb don became significantly more popular and left doff to flounder a bit in linguistic semi-obscurity. Doff and don have been a pair from the start: both date to the 14th century, with doff coming from a phrase meaning "to do off" and don from one meaning "to do on." Shakespeare was first, as far as we know, to use the word as it's defined at sense 2. He put it in Juliet's mouth: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet. / … Romeo, doff thy name; / And for that name, which is no part of thee, / Take all myself."
On this day in 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommends that America’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon, be impeached and removed from office. The impeachment proceedings resulted from a series of political scandals involving the Nixon administration that came to be collectively known as Watergate.
The Watergate scandal first came to light following a break-in on June 17, 1972, at the Democratic Party’s national headquarters in the Watergate apartment-hotel complex in Washington, D.C. A group of men linked to the White House were later arrested and charged with the crime. Nixon denied any involvement with the break-in, but several of his staff members were eventually implicated in an illegal cover-up and forced to resign. Subsequent government investigations revealed “dirty tricks” political campaigning by the Committee to Re-Elect the President, along with a White House “enemies list.” In July 1973, one of Nixon’s former staff members revealed the existence of secretly taped conversations between the president and his aides. Nixon initially refused to release the tapes, on grounds of executive privilege and national security, but a judge later ordered the president to turn them over. The White House provided some but not all of the tapes, including one from which a portion of the conversation appeared to have been erased.
In May 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began formal impeachment hearings against Nixon. On July 27 of that year, the first article of impeachment against the president was passed. Two more articles, for abuse of power and contempt of Congress, wereapproved on July 29 and 30.On August 5,Nixon complied witha U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring thathe provide transcripts of the missing tapes, and the new evidence clearly implicated him in a cover up of the Watergate break-in. On August 8, Nixon announced his resignation, becoming the first president in U.S. history to voluntarily leave office. After departing the White House on August 9,Nixon was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford, who, in a controversial move, pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974, making it impossible for the former president to be prosecuted for any crimes he might have committed while in office. Only two other presidents in U.S. historyhave beenimpeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 26, 2016 is:
pidgin \PIJ-in\ noun
: a simplified speech used for communication between people with different languages
"In his 1992 book, A History of American English, the late linguist J.L. Dillard … demonstrates that the most originally American form of English was a pidgin, originating with sailor's language. Early explorers of North America, he argues, would have used nautical pidgins and passed those on to native people." — Sarah Laskow, Atlas Obscura, 17 July 2015
"Hawaiian Pidgin English developed during the 1800s and early 1900s, when immigrant laborers from China, Portugal, and the Philippines arrived to work in the plantations; American missionaries also came around that time. The immigrants used pidgins—first one that was based in Hawaiian and then one based in English—to communicate." — Alia Wong, The Atlantic, 20 Nov. 2015
Did you know?
The history of pidgin begins in the early 19th century in the South China city of Guangzhou. Chinese merchants interacting with English speakers on the docks in this port adopted and modified the word business in a way that, by century's end, had become pidgin. The word itself then became the descriptor of the unique communication used by people who speak different languages. Pidgins generally consist of small vocabularies (Chinese Pidgin English has only 700 words), but some have grown to become a group's native language. Examples include Sea Island Creole (spoken in South Carolina's Sea Islands), Haitian Creole, and Louisiana Creole. The word pidgin also gave us one particular meaning of pigeon—the one defined as "an object of special concern" or "accepted business or interest," as in "Tennis is not my pigeon."