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This Week’s Word: Ephemeral
/ɪˈfɛm ər əl/ [ih-fem-er-uh l]
Ephemeral describes something short-lived or something that lasts for only a day.
Synonyms: Fleeting, evanescent, transitory
Word History: The term ephemera was adopted into 14th century English from Latin as a medical term, describing a fever or ailment that lasted only a day. The Latin traces even further back to the Greek ephḗmeros, meaning of/for/during the day. Now the noun ephemeron (pl. ephemera), denoting something short-lived or meant for limited use, is less common than the adjective ephemeral. However, the form of the word with the -al suffix can also be used as a noun to denote something that lives for a day or a short while, such as a flower or insect.
Sample 1: Some argue that pop culture in the age of the internet is much more ephemeral than it was when the television reigned supreme; the “information superhighway” has sped our access to new ideas up so much that widespread fads, jokes, and even debates last only a short while before being replaced by the next big thing.
Sample 2: At the end of the movie, Roxie learns that the public’s macabre interest in her crime was entirely ephemeral, fading immediately after her acquittal.
Sample 3: Yuki saves tickets, postcards, notes, and other ephemera for her scrapbook.
This Week’s Word: Desiccate
/ˈdɛs ɪˌkeɪt/ [des-i-keyt]
The verb desiccate can be used with or without an object and means to thoroughly dry up or dry out. It may be used in the context of dehydrating food in order to preserve it.
Synonyms: dehydrate, parch, drain, exsiccate
Etymology: From the Latin desiccatus, the past participle form of “to make very dry.”
Sample: Months of drought had completely desiccated the once well-manicured lawn.
Sample 2: The hot sun desiccated the cat’s corpse within a matter of days.
Remember when you took the SAT for the first time? You were so anxious because it was the SAT AND IT WAS THE BIGGEST TEST YOU WERE EVER GOING TO TAKE! And just as you got up to the front of the line to check-in, they asked you if you were taking an SAT II. A WHAT?!
And, indeed, it turned out that on top of the SAT reasoning tests there were other subject tests that were “optional.” Perhaps if you’re a strange Martian who is immune to the horrors of standardized testing, you were excited for another chance to show what you know, but more likely, your heart sank with the realization that “subject tests” meant that more future Saturdays would begin with your stomach in knots at 8 AM in a cold testing center.
You may have thought applying to graduate school would be more straightforward, but if you’re taking the GRE, you’re likely to find yourself at the same crossroads. Yes, luckily for you, if you’re applying to graduate school in the field of Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Literature (in English), Mathematics, Physics, or Psychology, you have the option to take a GRE Subject Test to support your graduate school application. The tests are administered in April, September, and October and scored on a scale of 200-990 in ten point increments. The Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; and Psychology Tests all have subsections scored on a scale of 20-99 in one point increments. The question is, do you need to give up $150 and a weekend? Continue reading “GRE Subject Tests: To Take, or Not To Take” »
quer·u·lous kwer-yə-ləs, -ə-ləs\ adjective
Querulous is an adjective meaning “given to complaining” or “habitually complaining.” Synonyms of querulous include peevish, fretful, or whining. Querulous is often used to describe someone who is complaining in a way that is annoying or irritating.
Querulous finds its etymological roots in the Old French adjective querelos, meaning “quarrelsome” and “argumentative.” An even earlier version of querulous may be found in the Latin querulus, meaning “full of complaints” or “complaining.”
The querulous timbre of Aunt Ruthie’s screeching voice led me to believe that this silly debate was far from complete.
In this sentence, the context clues present in the second half of the sentence could help you determine the meaning of querulous. “Screeching” and “debate” indicate that the nature of Aunt Ruthie’s speech is argumentative.