Pronounced: puh-ris-tuh-RON-ick, adj

Notes: I had no idea of this word’s meaning

Yesterday’s word

The word acerbate means “irritate, exasperate”


This word came from Latin acerbus (harsh or bitter). This word, which sounds similar to ‘exaserbate’ (to make worse), is sometimes used in place of it, but this meaning hasn’t made it into the dictionaries yet. Such usage may be an error, but it’s a good error; both words come from the same Latin root.

First usage

This word came into English in the mid-1700s


Pronounced: A-suhr-bate (the ‘A’ is a short a, as in ‘bat’), verb

Notes: This may mean what you think

Yesterday’s word

The word quingentenary means a 500th anniversary. Another spelling is quincentenary.


The word comes from Latin quingenti (five hundred), which is a combination of quinque (five) plus centum (hundred).

First used

The word was used in the late 1800s


Pronounced: kwin-jen-TEN-uh-ree, noun

Notes: a handy word to know

Yesterday’s word

The word garderobe means

  • a wardrobe or its contents
  • a private room : bedroom
  • privy, toilet

The word comes from the French word garder (guard), and originally meant a room or closet in which clothing was stored. Its use was extended to mean a private bedroom and bathroom.

First used

The word first entered the language in the 1400s; although it is still used today (most likely in a description of an old castle), the usage has diminished since the 1800s.


Pronounced: GAR-drobe, noun

Note: Not a robe to be worn in a garden

Yesterday’s word

The word fabulist means

  • a writer of teller of fables
  • a liar

The word comes from French fabuliste, which came from Latin fabula (talk, tale, legend)

First usage

The word showed up in the late 1500s.


Pronounced: FA-byoo-list, noun

Note: For some reason, I keep associating this word with ‘magician’ (but that’s not correct).

Yesterday’s word

The word fleer means “a word of look of derision or mockery”


The word is Scandinavian in origin; it is kin to the Norwegian word flire (to giggle). It showed up in Middle English as the verb fleryen (to laugh, grin, or grimace in a coarse manner).

First usage

The noun first appeared in Shakespeare’s Othello (early 1600s)


Pronounced: flihr, noun

Notes: I thought this was flee-uhr, one who flees, but… nope

Yesterday’s word

The word morbidezza means “an extreme softness, smoothness, or delicacy, especially in words of art, sculpture, music, etc.


The word comes (as you may think) from Italian morbidezza (softness, smoothness), which comes from morbido (soft, smooth). It came into Italian from Latin, and how the meaning shifted is weird: in Latin, morbidus means ‘diseased’.

First used

The word showed up in the early 1600s.


Pronounced: more-bih-DET-suh, noun

Note: I tried to parse this word to guess the meaning, and was wrong

Yesterday’s word

The word skirl is related to bagpipes; it means

  • to emit the high shrill tone of the chanter; also, to give forth music
  • to play [music, if you’ll forgive the word] on the bagpipe

Not every musical instrument has its very own verb — but then again, there is nothing quite like a bagpipe. Some people classify the sound made by a bagpipe as ‘music’; others say it is more of a shriek than music… and that is the origin of the word: skirl was first used to shrieking maids or winds, etc. Since it was first used (presumably disparagingly) of bagpipes, the meaning has shifted and it is no longer an offensive description of bagpipe playing.

First used

Scottish poet Robert Sempill first applied the word to bagpipes in the mid-1600s.


Pronounced: skuhrl (alternatively, skuhr-uhl), verb

Note: Some people (I’m thinking Caroline Buck or Cindy Haw) might know this word, but it was new to me

Yesterday’s word

The word aggrate means “to please or gratify”


The word comes from Italian aggradare (to please), which itself came from Latin aggratare, having a root of gratus (pleasing or grateful).

First usage

The word showed up in the late 1500s


Pronounced: uh-GRATE, verb

Note: I keep seeing “aggregate” when I see this word, and so I guessed the wrong meaning

Yesterday’s word

The word hypaethral means

  • having a roofless central space
  • open to the sky

The ancient Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius used the Latin word hypaethrus to describe temples in which the cella (the part of the template hosing an image of the deity) was wholly or partially uncovered. The word was crafted from Greek hypo- (under or beneath) and aith─ôr (air or heaven).

First usage

This word came into English in the late 1700s


Pronounced: hi-PEA-thruhl, adj

Yesterday’s word

The word antigodlin means

  • out of line; lopsided; out of whack
  • diagonal

The origin is uncertain; it supposedly is used in the American south; as far as I know, I’ve never heard anyone use this word. It is thought to come from anti- (against) plus goggling/goggle (to look obliquely). It may also derive from “against God”.

First usage

This word showed up in the early 1900s.