Adjacent

The other day, I was watching the tv game show “Crystal Maze” and noticed one of the contestants didn’t know the meaning of the word adjacent, which cost her a crystal. I wanted to shout it at her as I saw her struggling with her task, and that’s is why I chose this word for this week’s word. Adjacent means next to or near something. If two things are adjacent, they are side by side. In the game show I was watching, the contestant had to put a yellow cube adjacent to a blue one (I’m not sure about the colours, but you get the idea), and I felt frustrated seeing her failing such an easy task. So much so that I decided to clarify the meaning of the word here to prevent such future frustrations. Interestingly, this word has its origin in jacere, the same Latin word that originates the words adjective, eject and project, for example. While adjacent and adjective share the root jacere, which means “being thrown down” and the prefix ad meaning “toward” or “addition”; the words eject and project share the root jacere but without the prefix ad.

Posted in Language

Word of the Day

Edacious

Having just watched a couple of episodes of Friends, I decide to chose the word edacious for this week’s word of the day. No prizes for guessing which character inspired me to chose an adjective related to eating and meaning a huge appetite. This word descends from the Latin edax, relating to the Latin verb edere, which means to eat.  The adjective edible has its origin here too. Latin poet Ovid’s famous quote: “Tempus edax rerum”, translates into “Time, the devourer of all things.” Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish historian and essayist also used it referring to Time in “swallowed in the depths of edacious Time”.

Synonyms: voracious, insatiable, ravenous.

 

Posted in Language

Prosaic

In the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the word prosaic is defined as an adjective, firstly meaning ‘ordinary and not showing any imagination’, synonymous of unimaginative. And secondly meaning ‘dull, not romantic’, synonymous of mundane. The adverb form of this word is prosaically, which could be used to say for example: ‘he writes prosaically‘ (his writing style bears no imagination). The second meaning of the word can be used to say: ‘I decided to join a drama group because I was tired of my prosaic life and decided it was time for some excitement’.

This word originates from the Latin “prosaicus”, which has a root in the Latin “prosa”, which means prose, straightforward writing. Its first records date from the 1600’s, to refer to any text that was not poetic without any negative connotation. However, with the rise of the poetry status as a higher form of writing, considered to be more beautiful and imaginative than prose, by the end of the century, the prose style was given a lower status. This resulted in the natural evolution to the current meanings of prosaic, usually negative.

I like the sound of the word and I think is kind of poetic, I will definitely start introducing it in my poetry writing. Let me know in the comments below what do you think of this word. Were you surprised by any of this?

Thanks for reading and please comment, xxx

 

Posted in Language

“They’re”, “There”, “Their”

I am not a native speaker of the English language, I have studied English in my home country, the sunny Portugal, since the age of eleven and have improved it greatly since living in the UK since 2002. Therefore, I will every now and then write an awkward sentence or even a made up word; but there are a few common errors English speakers make that make me cringe. Please forgive me if this sounds snob coming from a foreigner, but this is only out of respect for the language we use to communicate.

One of the most common errors I don’t get is the misuse of “they’re“, “there” and “their“. To me, this seems so simple. I’m sure everyone knows that there means place, as in ‘over there‘ as opposed to ‘over here‘. For example, if I ask: ‘Have you seen my keys? I’m sure I left them here.’ I might get for an answer: ‘No, they’re over there.’ Of course, “they’re” refer to the keys, meaning “they are” and could be replaced by “the keys are“; and “there” refers to the place where the keys are. Now, if I was talking about my children’s keys, I would say: ‘Their keys are over there.’ Their means that the keys belong to my children, it is being used instead of saying: ‘my children’s ‘.

So, in summary:

  • They’re means – they are
  • There means – place
  • Their means – belonging

Very straight forward, isn’t it? I don’t understand why so many people make this mistake, I’m sure this is one of primary school teachers’ everywhere biggest frustrations. There are issues in the English language that may be difficult to learn, but this isn’t one of them and yet I have seen it everywhere, from professional emails to social media statuses. And I just don’t see why is it so complicated. Could anyone shed a light on this for me?