Word of the Week: Terraform

Word: terraform

Pronunciation: TE-rə-form

Part of Speech: verb

Definition: transform a planet so as to resemble the earth, especially so that it can support human life

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Earth Day was this past weekend, but I’d still like to acknowledge the date one more time with a related vocabulary word. I learned today’s Word of the Week from watching my boyfriend play Elite: Dangerous, a space exploration game scaled to scientifically accurate proportions. Every once in a while, he discovers a water world on his travels through the galaxy, and scanning it will reveal, among other data, whether the planet can be modified to become habitable. These are naturally the most valuable planets when exchanging data for in-game credits; a world that humans could “terraform” would be the ultimate treasure of space!

To “terraform” a planet would be to transform it to resemble Earth, especially with the purpose of supporting human life. This word was coined in 1942 by the science fiction author Jack Williamson, who first used the term in his short story “Collision Orbit”, published in Astounding Science Fiction magazine. The verb comprises the Latin noun terra “earth” and the suffix -form “having the shape of”.

Given its hypothetical nature, the word “terraform” is especially popular in science fiction, but it does have a place in real science as well. The potential colonization of Mars, for example, is a subject that often ties in with the concept of “terraforming“, as altering the planet’s surface and climate would make it hospitable to human beings. The idea is so fascinating and has so many possibilities, it’s really no wonder that it’s such a popular subject in sci-fi stories and scientific debates alike! If you write science fiction about the transformation and colonization of extraterrestrial worlds, “terraform” is a must-use word for your stories!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

What If? Writing Prompts: Nature V

Earth Day is this Saturday, and that means it’s time for some new “What If?” Writing Prompts! This week’s post features yet another batch of prompts in the theme of nature and environmentalism. See what stories you can spin from these ideas, and feel free to add more of your own! Enjoy!

What if… there were only one way to save the environment from total destruction… and it came at the price of half the global human population?

What if… human beings were the only animals in the world?

What if… all the trees in the world disappeared?

What if… every food source on the planet became sustainable?

What if… all major sources of carbon emission on Earth suddenly stopped?

Good luck writing more environmentalist stories!

If you have any “What If?” writing prompt suggestions (for any theme), please feel free to share them in the comments below. Ideas I like may be featured in future “What If?” posts, with full credit and a link to your blog (if you have one)! Also, if you’ve written a piece based on an idea you’ve found here, be sure to link back to the respective “What If?” post. I would love to see what you’ve done with the prompt! Thank you!

Word of the Week: Prognosticate

Word: prognosticate

Pronunciation: prahɡ-NAH-stə-kayt

Part of Speech: verb

Definition: foretell or prophesy an event in the future

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Today’s vocabulary entry is about another word I happened to pick up from Oxford Dictionaries‘ Word of the Day list. Though I’ve long been familiar with “prognostic” and “prognosis”, it was interesting to stumble upon a verb form of these words. Funny how hard it is for me to “prognosticate” what strange new words will make it into my Word of the Week segment!

To “prognosticate” a future event is to prophesy or foretell it. The word arose in late Middle English and comes from the Latin verb prognosticare, meaning “to make a prediction”. This word traces back through the adjective prognosticus to the Greek adjective prognōstikós “foreknowing”, which in turn comprises the prefix pro- “before” and the adjective gnōstikós “knowing”.

As mentioned above, the verb “prognosticate” is related to the adjective “prognostic” (meaning “serving to predict the likely outcome of a disease or ailment”) and the noun “prognosis” (meaning “the likely course of a disease or ailment”). Note that despite their primary use as medical terms, both these words can function as nouns indicating the prediction of future events, though this sense for “prognostic” has become archaic in modern use. If your characters often make predictions about the future, “prognosticate” may be a good word to add to your vocabulary!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

Word of the Week: Laud

Word: laud

Pronunciation: LAHD

Part of Speech: verb

Definition: praise a person or their achievements highly, especially in a public context

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s another word that’s overdue to appear on my blog, since I learned it a long time ago from studying vocabulary flashcards. Since first reading it years ago, I’ve seen it used several times in reference to people deserving of praise, mostly those in the public eye. When simply “praising” someone isn’t formal enough, you can always “laud” their accomplishments instead!

To “laud” a person or their achievements is to praise them highly, especially in public. The word arose in late Middle English and traces back through the Old French verb laude to the Latin verb laudare, meaning “to praise”. This verb stems from the noun laus, which means “glory”.

Aside from its primary use as a verb, “laud” can also function as a noun to mean “praise” or a “hymn of praise”, though this sense has become archaic in modern language. The word is classified as formal in Oxford Dictionaries, making it most appropriate for formal writing, but I believe it can work just as well in certain stories depending on the author’s writing style. A common derivative of this word is the adjective “laudable”, meaning “deserving praise and commendation”. If your characters’ achievements are often worthy of praise, “laud” may be a good word to include in your vocabulary!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

What If? Writing Prompts: Humor V

Welcome to April! I hope you survived the pranks of April Fools’ Day, or maybe you pulled some off yourself! Either way, in the spirit of this humorous month, why not have some more fun with a few new “What If?” Writing Prompts? This week’s batch features prompts in the theme of humor. See what fun stories you can create from these ideas! Enjoy!

What if… every time you thought about a certain food, it magically appeared before you?

What if… you were hypnotized to sing every time someone said a specific word?

What if… for one day, you could understand animals, but not people?

What if… you woke up one day to find yourself in a cartoon?

What if… you were cursed to speak only in the form of bad jokes?

Good luck spinning more silly tales!

If you have any “What If?” writing prompt suggestions (for any theme), please feel free to share them in the comments below. Ideas I like may be featured in future “What If?” posts, with full credit and a link to your blog (if you have one)! Also, if you’ve written a piece based on an idea you’ve found here, be sure to link back to the respective “What If?” post. I would love to see what you’ve done with the prompt! Thank you!

Word of the Week: Ignominious

Word: ignominious

Pronunciation: ig-nə-MI-nee-əs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: deserving or causing public disgrace or shame

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


How about a fun new word to kick off the humorous month of April? Have you ever found yourself—or put your characters—in a situation that was more than a little embarrassing? Or perhaps you’ve already overused words like “humiliating” and “mortifying” in your stories and need a new synonym to keep your writing fresh? If so, you may find some use for today’s Word of the Week! When a scenario is too embarrassing or shameful for common adjectives, try calling it “ignominious” instead!

To be “ignominious” is to cause or deserve public shame or disgrace. The word arose in late Middle English and traces back through the French adjective ignominieux to the Latin adjective ignominiosus, meaning “disgraceful”. This adjective stems from the noun ignominia “disgrace”, which in turn comprises two roots: the prefix in- “not” and the noun nomen “name”.

To be honest, the first time I read the word “ignominious”, I assumed it was similar in meaning to the word “ignorant”, though I suppose they aren’t too unrelated, as being the latter can lead to suffering the former. For the funny and ridiculously purple way it sounds, I myself would probably reserve the use of this word to humorous contexts, but I’m sure it can work just as easily, if not more appropriately, in formal writing. If your characters often find themselves in disgraceful and humiliating situations, “ignominious” may be a good word to add to your vocabulary list!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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