Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Word of the Day 6/29/2010

Chary (adjective)
1 a : discreetly cautious: as* b : hesitant and vigilant about dangers and risksc : slow to grant, accept, or expend

Example Sentence: "And in causes both small and large, controversial and less so, he was never chary about voicing his convictions." (Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2010)

Did you know?: It was sorrow that bred the caution of "chary." In Middle English "chary" meant "sorrowful," a sense that harks back to the word's Old English ancestor "caru" (an early form of "care," and another term that originally meant "sorrow" or "grief"). In a sense switch that demonstrates that love can be both bitter and sweet, "chary" later came to mean "dear" or "cherished." That's how 16th century English dramatist George Peele used it: "the chariest and the choicest queen, That ever did delight my royal eyes." Both sorrow and affection have largely faded from "chary," however, and in Modern English the word is most often used as a synonym of either "careful" or "sparing."

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

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