Word of the Day


audio pronunciation
September 29, 2011
: produced by humans rather than by natural forces
: not natural or genuine : artificial
Terry had the distinct feeling that her host's British accent was factitious -- part of an act designed to distance him even further from those around him.

"The energy generated here often feels factitious, all show (or show and tell) and little substance." -- From a theater review by Ben Brantley in the New York Times, April 28, 2011
Get the Word of the Day direct to your inbox — subscribe today!
Did You Know?
Like the common words "fact" and "factual," "factitious" ultimately comes from the Latin verb "facere," meaning "to do" or "to make." But in current use, "factitious" has little to do with things factual and true -- in fact, "factitious" often implies the opposite. The most immediate ancestor of "factitious" is the Latin adjective "facticius," meaning "made by art" or "artificial." When English speakers first adopted the word as "factitious" in the 17th century, it meant "produced by human effort or skill" (rather than arising from nature). This meaning gave rise to such meanings as "artificial" and "false" or "feigned."

Test Your Memory: What recent Word of the Day refers to a diviner in ancient Rome? The answer is ...
More Words of the Day
Visit our archives to see previous selections.
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears