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March 04, 2012

Word of the Day

  • Babbitt
  • audio pronunciation
  • \BAB-it\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: a person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards
  • EXAMPLES

The candidate's economic agenda appeals to the frugal Babbitts in his constituency.

"There is something delightfully counterintuitive about [author Richard] Florida's theory as he chooses to state it: you would have thought it was dull Babbitts who made a city commercially successful, but no—it's kids with scruffy beards and tattoos who have alt-rock bands … and wait tables in vegan restaurants."—From an article by Nicholas Lemann in The New Yorker, June 27, 2011

  • DID YOU KNOW?

He was a prosperous real-estate broker, a pillar of his Midwestern community, and a believer in success for its own sake. George F. Babbitt was his name and complacent American middle-class values were his game. He was created by Sinclair Lewis in the satirical 1922 novel Babbitt, and the fictional protagonist's name quickly became a synonym for one who adheres to a conformist, materialistic, unimaginative way of life.

Test Your Vocabulary: What is the meaning of "Svengali" (a word from George du Maurier's novel Trilby)? The answer is ...

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