accord, award, kudos

To accord is to render an honor, and implies a spontaneous bestowal “prompted by the dictates of the heart,” as Frank Vizetelly put it in his famous “A Desk-Book of Errors in English” 110 years ago. The word comes from the Latin, cor, for heart. An award implies a grant that is given after careful […]

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imperial, imperious

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS An imperial person is an emperor or an empress, or behaves like one. Imperious means dictatorial, domineering, bossy. You don’t have to be an emperor to have an imperial manner. Neither do you have to be an emperor to be imperious, but sometimes it helps.

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candid, candidate

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS In ancient Rome, politicians seeking election to office wore white togas to symbolize the purity of their motives. They were expected, of course, to be candid, that is, frank, open and sincere, for which the Latin was candidus, literally, “shining white.” The word for those politicians was candidatus, which is Latin for […]

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indict, indite

  By LAWRENCE FELLOWS    Although both words have the same Latin root, dico, meaning to speak. and are pronounced the same, they have developed quite different meanings. To indict someone is to charge him with a crime, formally or in writing. To indite is to compose or write, usually something nice. In Shakespeare’s time, […]

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cue, Q

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS The cue an actor gets when it’s time for him to go on stage or speak has nothing to do with billiards, but does normally comprise the last few words before his lines, or the tail-end of another actor’s lines. By some accounts, however, the word cue comes more likely from the […]

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graduate, graduated

by LAWRENCE FELLOWS   You can say that you graduated from college, or that you were graduated from college, or that the college graduated you. The word comes from the Latin gradus, meaning a stop or a degree. If you made the grade, your college marked your progress by awarding you a degree. But unless […]

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