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Dictionary Lookup Box

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Word of the Day


Definition: (noun) A semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum; used in medicinal ointments and for lubrication.
Synonyms: mineral jelly, petroleum jelly
Usage: While her friends bought expensive designer lip balms, she stuck with her grandmother's remedy, a big jar of petrolatum.
Article of the Day

Maxwell's Demon

The second law of thermodynamics—stating that any isolated microcosm moves only toward an increase in entropy—was accepted uneasily by the scientific community, and in 1867, physicist James Clerk Maxwell sought to disprove it. Maxwell's thought experiment utilized a hypothetical creature, which he called a "finite being," that could sort molecules of different velocities or temperatures without expending energy, thus bringing about a general decrease in entropy. Who dubbed the being a "demon"? More...
Daily Grammar Lesson

Using Sentence Fragments

We commonly use sentence fragments (phrases, incomplete clauses, or dependent clauses) as standalone sentences. When are these typically used? More...
Idiom of the Day

can't even

slang Cannot handle (something). A phrase used (usually comically) when one cannot articulate their strong feelings (often of frustration) about something or someone. More...

This Day in History

Sweden Adopts New Act of Succession (1810)

The present Swedish royal dynasty was established by French-born Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Bernadotte initially supported Napoleon but then shifted his allegiance to Sweden. In 1810, he was invited to become crown prince of Sweden. He was made heir to Charles XIII through the Act of Succession. Among other things, it specifies that a Swedish prince must belong to the Church of Sweden and be raised within the realm. What change was made to the rule of succession in 1980? More...
Today's Birthday

Ivan Pavlov (1849)

Russian physiologist and Nobel laureate Ivan Pavlov is chiefly known for his discovery of the conditioned reflex, a reflex developed gradually by training in association with a specific repeated external stimulus. In the 1890s, he was investigating the gastric function of dogs when he noticed that the animals began salivating at the mere sound of the bell that preceded their feedings. He made this phenomenon the focus of his research. What other experimental subjects did he use in his research? More...
Today's Holiday

Birthday of Johnny Appleseed (2022)

John Chapman—better known as Johnny Appleseed for his lifelong dedication to planting apple seedlings all over the American Midwest—was born on this day in 1774. While some frontier settlers thought he was a saint, or at the very least a religious fanatic, with his tin pot hat and coffee-sack tunic, the Native Americans regarded him as a great medicine man since he planted herbs as well as apples. More...
Quote of the Day
Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.
Alexander Hamilton
Grammar Quiz
Word Trivia

Today's topic: sailing

aloof - Comes from sailing, in which ships keep clear of coastal rocks by holding the vessel "luff"—"to the windward"; so, to hold "a-luff" means to "keep clear." More...

jibe - Meaning "be compatible, consistent," it may come from the earlier jibe, "to shift a sail from side to side while sailing in the wind." More...

plain sailing - Probably comes from plane sailing, a way of determining a ship's position based on its moving on a plane (flat surface). More...

aback - Originated in sailing, as a ship was taken aback when a strong gust of wind suddenly blew the sails back against the mast, causing the ship to stop momentarily. More...

Spelling Bee
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