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Word of the day for May 1
synaesthesia n
  1. (neurology, psychology) A neurological or psychological phenomenon whereby a particular sensory stimulus triggers a second kind of sensation.
  2. (by extension) The association of one sensory perception with, or description of it in terms of, a different perception that is not experienced at the same time.
  3. (art, literature) A literary or artistic device whereby one kind of sensation is described in the terms of another.

  Russian journalist and mnemonist Solomon Shereshevsky, who was said to experience a powerful form of synaesthesia in which stimulation of one of his senses produced a reaction in all the others, died on this day in 1958.

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Word of the day for May 2
turn turtle v
  1. (intransitive) Especially of a boat or ship, or some other vehicle: to turn upside down.
  2. (intransitive, figuratively) To fail; to go belly up.
  3. (intransitive, surfing) To roll upside down with one's surfboard (usually a longboard) to allow a wave, especially a wave that has already broken, to pass over.
  4. (intransitive, historical) To capture a turtle by turning it on to its back.

  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles premiered as comic book characters this month 35 years ago in 1984.

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Word of the day for May 3
Betteridge's law proper n
  1. (journalism) An adage stating that any headline ending in a question mark can be correctly answered by the word "no".

  Today is World Press Freedom Day, which is recognized by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.

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Word of the day for May 4
walking carpet n
  1. (slang, derogatory or humorous) An exceptionally hairy person.

  May the Fourth – oops, the Force – be with you! Today is observed as Star Wars Day by fans of the franchise. English-American actor Peter Mayhew, who played the role of Chewbacca in the film series between 1977 and 2015, died on 30 April 2019.

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Word of the day for May 5
lustrum n
  1. (Ancient Rome, religion, historical) A ceremonial purification of all the people, performed every five years after the taking of the census; a lustration.
  2. (by extension, literary) A period of five years.
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Word of the day for May 8
megapolitan adj
  1. Of or pertaining to a megapolis (a very large city or urban complex).
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Word of the day for May 9
system n
  1. A collection of organized things; a whole composed of relationships among its members.
    1. (derogatory) Preceded by the word the: the mainstream culture, controlled by the elites or government of a state, or a combination of them, seen as oppressive to the individual.
    2. (computing) A set of hardware and software operating in a computer.
    3. (mathematics) A set of equations involving the same variables, which are to be solved simultaneously.
    4. (music) A set of staves linked by a brace that indicate instruments or sounds that are to be played simultaneously.
    5. (physiology) A set of body organs having a particular function.
  2. A method or way of organizing or planning.

  Venezuelan orchestral conductor, educator, and politician José Antonio Abreu, who founded the non-profit classical music education programme called El Sistema, was born on this date 80 years ago in 1939.

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Word of the day for May 10
abstract away v
  1. (transitive) To generalize concepts or their application by using abstraction into a more usable form.
  2. (transitive, by extension) To ignore, to omit.
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11Edit

 

Word of the day for May 11
brubru n
  1. Also more fully as brubru shrike: a bird in the bushshrike family found in sub-Saharan Africa (Nilaus afer).

  Today, the second Saturday of May in 2019, is the first of the two World Migratory Bird Days in the year. These days were established by the Secretariats of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals to highlight the importance of protecting migratory birds and their habitats.

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Word of the day for May 12
motherhood statement n
  1. (chiefly Canada, US) A vague, feel-good platitude, especially one made by a politician, that few people would disagree with.

  Today, the second Sunday of May in 2019, is celebrated in many countries as Mother’s Day.

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Word of the day for May 15
primigravida n
  1. (obstetrics, veterinary medicine) A woman or female animal who is pregnant for the first time, or who has been pregnant once.

  Today is designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Families to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

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16Edit

 

Word of the day for May 16
terse adj
  1. (obsolete) Burnished, polished; fine, smooth; neat, spruce.
  2. (by extension) Of speech or style: brief, concise, to the point.
  3. (by extension) Of manner or speech: abruptly or brusquely short; curt.
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Word of the day for May 17
fjord n
  1. A long, narrow, deep inlet between cliffs.

  Today is Norwegian Constitution Day, which celebrates the signing of the Constitution of Norway in Eidsvoll on this day 205 years ago in 1814.

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Word of the day for May 19
gnomon n
  1. An object such as a pillar or a rod that is used to tell time by the shadow it casts when the sun shines on it, especially the pointer on a sundial.
  2. An object such as a pillar used by an observer to calculate the meridian altitude of the sun (that is, the altitude of the sun when it reaches the observer's meridian), for the purpose of determining the observer's latitude.
  3. The index of the hour circle of a globe.
  4. (geometry) A plane figure formed by removing a parallelogram from a corner of a larger parallelogram.
  5. (mathematics, by extension) A number representing the increment between two figurate numbers (numbers equal to the numbers of dots in geometric figures formed of dots).
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20Edit

 

Word of the day for May 20
caravel n
  1. (nautical, historical) A light, usually lateen-rigged sailing ship used by the Portuguese and Spanish for about 300 years from the 15th century, first for trade and later for voyages of exploration.

  Today is European Maritime Day, which seeks to raise European citizens’ awareness of the seas and their importance.

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21Edit

 

Word of the day for May 21
orature n
  1. The oral equivalent of literature: a collection of traditional folk songs, stories, etc., that is communicated orally rather than in writing. []

  Today is the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development or Diversity Day, which is recognized by the United Nations to highlight the value of cultural diversity and the need for people to live together in harmony.

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22Edit

 

Word of the day for May 22
mouthbrooder n
  1. (zoology) Any animal that cares for its offspring, either eggs or juveniles, by holding them in its mouth for extended periods of time.

  Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity (also known as World Biodiversity Day), which is recognized by the United Nations for the promotion of biodiversity issues.

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23Edit

 

Word of the day for May 23
pall v
  1. (transitive) To make vapid or insipid; to make lifeless or spiritless; to dull, to weaken.
  2. (intransitive) To become dull, insipid, tasteless, or vapid; to lose life, spirit, strength, or taste.
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Word of the day for May 24
consilience n
  1. (logic) The concurrence of multiple inductions drawn from different data sets. [from mid 19th c.]
  2. The agreement, co-operation, or overlap of academic disciplines.

  English philosopher and theologian William Whewell, who coined the word, was born on this day 225 years ago in 1794.

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Word of the day for May 26
facticity n
  1. (uncountable) The quality or state of being a fact.
  2. (uncountable, specifically, philosophy) In existentialism, the state of being in the world without any knowable reason for such existence, or of being in a particular state of affairs which one has no control over.
  3. (countable) A fact that is not changeable or that is assumed to be true without further evaluation.
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27Edit

 

Word of the day for May 27
gouge v
  1. (transitive) To make a groove, hole, or mark in by scooping with or as if with a gouge.
  2. (transitive) To cheat or impose upon; in particular, to charge an unfairly or unreasonably high price.
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To dig or scoop (something) out with or as if with a gouge; in particular, to use a thumb to push or try to push the eye (of a person) out of its socket.
  4. (intransitive) To use a gouge.
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28Edit

 

Word of the day for May 28
pyroballogy n
  1. (weaponry, obsolete, rare) The study of artillery; the practice of using artillery as a weapon.
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29Edit

 

Word of the day for May 29
nick v
  1. (transitive) To make a nick or notch in; to cut or scratch in a minor way.
    1. (transitive) To make ragged or uneven, as by cutting nicks or notches in; to deface, to mar.
    2. (transitive, rare) To make a crosscut or cuts on the underside of (the tail of a horse, in order to make the animal carry it higher).
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To fit into or suit, as by a correspondence of nicks; to tally with.
    1. (transitive) To hit at, or in, the nick; to touch rightly; to strike at the precise point or time.
    2. (transitive, cricket) To hit the ball with the edge of the bat and produce a fine deflection.
    3. (transitive, gaming) To throw or turn up (a number when playing dice); to hit upon.
  3. (transitive, mining) To make a cut at the side of the face.
  4. (transitive, Australia, Britain, slang) To steal.
  5. (transitive, Britain, law enforcement, slang) To arrest.
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Word of the day for May 31
ether n
  1. (uncountable, literary or poetic) The substance formerly supposed to fill the upper regions of the atmosphere above the clouds, in particular as a medium breathed by deities.
    1. (by extension) The medium breathed by human beings; the air.
    2. (by extension) The sky, the heavens; the void, nothingness.
  2. (uncountable, physics, historical) Often as aether and more fully as luminiferous aether: a substance once thought to fill all unoccupied space that allowed electromagnetic waves to pass through it and interact with matter, without exerting any resistance to matter or energy; its existence was disproved by the 1887 Michelson–Morley experiment and the theory of relativity propounded by Albert Einstein (1879–1955).
  3. (uncountable, colloquial) The atmosphere or space as a medium for broadcasting radio and television signals; also, a notional space through which Internet and other digital communications take place; cyberspace.
  4. (uncountable, colloquial) A particular quality created by or surrounding an object, person, or place; an atmosphere, an aura.
  5. (uncountable, organic chemistry) Diethyl ether (C4H10O), an organic compound with a sweet odour used in the past as an anaesthetic.
  6. (countable, organic chemistry) Any of a class of organic compounds containing an oxygen atom bonded to two hydrocarbon groups.

ether v

  1. (transitive, slang) To viciously humiliate or insult.
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