Word of the day for Sunday, June 29th




1. to discolor or soil; spot or smudge with or as with soot, dust, dirt, etc.

2. to sully or tarnish (a person, reputation, character, etc.); disgrace; discredit.


1. a dirty mark or smear, as of soot, dust, dirt, etc.

2. a stain or blot, as on reputation.


…that he could not give him back his life without incurring the smirch of this disgrace, without even endangering himself.
— John Galsworthy , The First and the Last , 1919…

Rupert Hentzau had him soundly flogged for daring to smirch the morals of Zenda by staying out all night in the pursuits of love.
— Anthony Hope , Rupert of Hentzau , 1895


Smirch has been around in English since the late 1400s. Its origins are uncertain, though it may have come from the Old French esmorcher meaning “to torment” or “torture.”


Quote of the day for Sunday, June 29th…


And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

In the beloved French novella The Little Prince, a pilot who has crashed in the desert encounters a young prince visiting Earth from his home asteroid. The premise was inspired by author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s (born June 29, 1900) own desert crash. After three days without water, he was saved by a passing Bedouin.

Here’s today’s word of the day for July 28th…




1. mild or merciful in disposition or character; lenient; compassionate: A clement judge reduced his sentence.

2. (of the weather) mild or temperate; pleasant.


Truly men say of Titus that he is clement and merciful, and therein differs much from Vespasian his father, and the clemency which he showed to the people of Gischala and other places which he has taken proves that is so…
— G. A. Henty , For the Temple: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem , 1888

“Yet I am a clement man, Francesco, and sorely though that dog has wronged me by his silence, I thank Heaven for the grace to say—God rest his vile soul!”
— Rafael Sabatini , Love-At-Arms , 1907


Clement came to English in the mid-1400s from the Latin word meaning “gentle, merciful.”

Quote of the day for July 28th


My genes, my love, are rubber bands and rope – make yourself a structure you can live inside.

Aimee Bender

Happy 45th birthday, Aimee Bender! The American author writes books marked by surrealism and light, that still manage to stab the reader in the heart.

Word of the day for June 27th


en-VAHY-ruhnz, -VAHY-ernz, EN-ver-uhnz, -vahy-ernz


1. the surrounding parts or districts, as of a city; outskirts; suburbs.

2. surrounding objects; surroundings; environment.

3. an area or space close by; vicinity.


On the Saturday afternoons the inhabitants of New Rochelle harnessed their horses to their carts, to convey the women and little ones, and the men in the prime of life walked all the distance to New York, camping out in their carts in the environs of the city through the night…
— Elizabeth Gaskell , “Traits and Stories of the Huguenots,” 1853

At the same hour that Narcisse and his companions entered the sombre and suspicious looking dwelling, the advocate returned to his home in the upper environs of the city, wearied in mind and frame…
— Charles Heavysege , The Advocate , 1865


Environs came to English in the mid-1600s from the Old French word meaning “around.”

Quote of the day for June 27th


We are surrounded by story.

Alice McDermott

Happy 61st birthday, Alice McDermott! The writer and professor has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize three times, for That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This.

Word of the day for June 26th




1. lighthearted; merry; cheerful: a blithesome nature.


Fleming, if we are restored to our throne, shall we not have one blithesome day at a blithesome bridal, of which we must now name neither the bride nor the bridegroom?
— Sir Walter Scott , The Monastery , 1820

Why had she never noticed before how blithesome the world was, how jocund with love; the birds sang it, the trees whispered it to her as she passed, the very flowers beneath her feet strewed the way as for a bridal march.
— Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner , The Gilded Age , 1873


Blithesome entered English in the early 1700s from the Gothic term bleiths meaning “kind, merciful.”

Quote of the day for June 26th!


Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.

Pearl S. Buck

Novelist Pearl S. Buck (born June 26, 1892), author of The Good Earth, was raised in China by her missionary parents and spent most of her first 40 years there. Fluent in the language of her adopted country, she says classical Chinese novels like Dream of the Red Chamber shaped her understanding of storytelling.

Word of the day for June 25th




1. Chiefly British Informal. somewhat hungry: By noon we were feeling a bit peckish.
2. Chiefly British Informal. rather irritable: He’s always a bit peckish after his nap.


“I say, uncle, is this all the grub great swells have? I’m awfully peckish !” “That’s early tea, my boy,” was the answer, with a smile.
— Charlotte Mary Yonge , That Stick , 1892

“…It has made me feel a bit peckish , a pull like that on an empty stomach; it must be close on twelve o’clock. What do you say, are you beginning to feel that it is lunch time?”
— George Moore , Spring Days , 1888


Though the origins of peckish are unknown, this term may share its roots with the term pick . This term came to English in the early 1700s.

Quote of the day for Wednesday, June 25th



It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.

Yann Martel

Since today is My Birthday as well, Happy 38th Birthday to Jill M Roberts AND Happy 51st birthday, Yann Martel! The novelist initially considered other animals—including an elephant and a rhinoceros—to place in the lifeboat with a young Indian boy, but finally settled on a tiger and began writing his Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi.