Word of the Week: Ineluctable

Word: ineluctable

Pronunciation: in-ə-LƏK-tə-b(ə)l

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Today’s Word of the Week was suggested by Judith from I Choose How I Will Spend the Rest of My Life. She actually provided several words, all of which I found interesting, so expect to see at least one more of them appear in my vocabulary segment. When I think about it, it’s funny how well today’s word describes my approach to vocabulary; for me, the lure of an interesting new word is simply “ineluctable”!

“Ineluctable” describes something that can’t be avoided, resisted, or escaped. The word arose in the early 17th century and comes from the Latin adjective ineluctabilis, meaning “from which there is no escape”. This adjective comprises the prefix in- “not” and the verb eluctari “to struggle out.”

Though I’d never heard the word “ineluctable” before Judith suggested it for this segment, I’m sure it could easily be used as a substitute for such synonyms as “inevitable”, “irresistible”, and “inescapable”. If you want to broaden the word’s use in your writing, you can also use its derivative forms: the noun “ineluctability” and the adverb “ineluctably”. If your characters often run into situations they simply cannot avoid or resist, you may have fun writing about their “ineluctable” predicaments!

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

What If? Writing Prompts: History VII

This past week saw yet another anniversary of the September 11 attacks as well as the destruction left in the wake of a record-breaking hurricane sweeping the Atlantic, the second to hit the U.S. in less than two weeks. Remembering watching the news in school 16 years ago and wondering how much more devastating the effects of climate change can become have gotten me thinking a lot about the past and future of our world, so this week I was inspired to share another set of “What If?” Writing Prompts in the theme of history. What sorts of stories about historical events can you create from these ideas? Good luck!

What if… global political leaders had started working to address climate change decades sooner?

What if… the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had never happened?

What if… America had never started the Iraq War?

What if… Europe hadn’t begun to form what would eventually become the European Union after World War II?

What if… the Founding Fathers had established America as a direct democracy instead of an electoral college?

Enjoy writing more stories about history!

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: Hegemony

Word: hegemony

Pronunciation: hə-JE-mə-nee / HE-jə-moh-nee

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


So funny story: the other day I stumbled upon a reminder to write a Word of the Week entry for today’s vocabulary word, but I neglected to add a note about where I first learned it. I want to say it’s another word I picked up from a game in the Elevate – Brain Training app, but it could just as easily have come from a recent political article. In any case, if it isn’t the latter, it very well could be soon; I wouldn’t be surprised if shifting perceptions of “hegemony” became the next hot topic of debate!

“Hegemony” is a form of dominance or leadership, typically of a state or social group over others. The word arose in the mid 16th century and comes from the Greek noun hēgemonía, meaning “leadership”. This noun stems from the noun hēgemṓn “leader”, which in turn derives from the verb hēgéomai “to lead”.

While “hegemony” refers specifically to political states or groups in formal contexts, it can just as frequently refer to the dominance of a certain social group over another, though it’s worth noting that this form of rule stipulates a level of consent from the subordinate group as opposed to dominance by pure force. If you want to expand this word’s use, you can also use the related noun “hegemon”, meaning “a supreme leader”. If your characters are divided into dominant and submissive groups on any scale, “hegemony” may be a good word to use in your stories!

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

Word of the Week: Parsimony

Word: parsimony

Pronunciation: PAHR-sə-moh-nee

Part of Speech: noun

Definition:

  1. extreme unwillingness to spend money or use resources
  2. the scientific principle that things are usually connected or behave in the simplest or most economical way

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Fun fact: today’s Word of the Week features another word I learned through its secondary meaning in science. While studying phylogenetics in grad school, I learned about different approaches to building and analyzing evolutionary trees, one of which involves inferring the fewest possible changes in a species’ history. It’s easy to see why this scientific criterion is so popular; when it comes to tracing evolution, you can hardly get any simpler than “parsimony”!

“Parsimony” is an extreme unwillingness to use resources or spend money. In science, it refers to the principle that things are connected or behave in the simplest way. The word arose in late Middle English and comes from the Latin noun parsimonia, meaning “frugality”. This noun stems from the verb parcere, which means “to spare”.

When working this word into your fiction, note that its primary definition is synonymous with “cheapness” and “penny-pinching”, while its second definition is often used interchangeably with “Occam’s razor“, a similar principle which states that “in explaining a thing, no more assumptions should be made than are necessary”. If you’re looking for an adjective to describe people guilty of “parsimony”, you can also use “parsimonious” alongside such words as “miserly” and “selfish”. If your characters are extremely stingy (or happen to be evolutionary biologists), “parsimony” may be an excellent word to add to your stories!

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

Word of the Week: Penumbra

Word: penumbra

Pronunciation: pə-NƏM-brə

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Continuing from last week’s theme of the total solar eclipse, today’s Word of the Week features a related word also used as an astronomy term. While a small portion of the U.S. was in the path of the totality, most viewers were only able to see a partial eclipse at its peak. Still, the whole event was quite the experience, even for those of us who only got to view it from the “penumbra”!

“Penumbra” refers to the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object, typically by the moon or the Earth during an eclipse. The word arose in the mid 17th century and is a modern Latin noun meaning “partial shadow”. This noun comprises two roots: the adverb paene “almost” and the noun umbra “shadow”.

Similar to “umbra”, “penumbra” can also be used as a different astronomy term for “the less dark outer part of a sunspot, surrounding the dark core”. The word can also function as a figurative term for an area of uncertainty between mutually exclusive states or an area on the edge of something. If you’re writing about an eclipse or want to refer to any sort of shadowy area, “penumbra” is a good word to consider for your stories!

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

Word of the Week: Umbra

Word: umbra

Pronunciation: ƏM-brə

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: the fully shaded inner region of a shadow cast by an opaque object, especially the area on the earth or moon experiencing the total phase of an eclipse

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Today’s the big day of the total solar eclipse! If you’re in the United States, you’ll have a chance to see at least a partial eclipse from wherever you are, so be sure to check NASA’s timetable of viewing times for your location (or if you’re anywhere else in the world, be sure to catch NASA’s live stream)! In the meantime, here’s a new vocabulary word to celebrate this rare event! Most of us here in the U.S. will get to see part of the eclipse, but only the lucky few total eclipse viewing areas will be in the path of the “umbra”!

“Umbra” refers to the fully shaded inner region of a shadow cast by an opaque object, typically the area on the moon or the Earth experiencing the total phase of an eclipse. The word arose in the late 16th century and was originally used to denote a ghost or phantom. This noun stems from the Latin noun umbra, meaning “shadow” or “shade”.

Aside from its primary meaning, “umbra” is a literary term for “shadow” or “darkness”, while in astronomy, it can also refer to “the dark central part of a sunspot”. You may remember the Latin root umbra from another word I’ve written about before, which also means “to overshadow”. If you’re writing about an eclipse or simply want to work a more literary word for “shadow” into your stories, “umbra” is 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?

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