Word of the Day


audio pronunciation
July 03, 2012
: having the wings extended as if in flight — used of a heraldic bird
: flying or capable of flying
: quick, nimble
One prominent feature of the family's crest is a hawk volant.

"In general, population genetic studies of volant animals are of particular interest because of their potential for long-distance dispersal and high levels of gene flow over terrestrial and oceanic landscapes." — From the 2012 book Evolutionary History of Bats: Fossils, Molecules and Morphology, by Gregg F. Gunnell and Nancy B. Simmons
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Did You Know?
English picked up "volant" from Middle French. The term survives in Modern French as well, both as an adjective having essentially the same meaning as the English term, and as a noun with several meanings (among them "shuttlecock"). The influence of French can be seen doubly in the heraldic sense of "volant": in heraldic contexts, as in our first example sentence above, the adjective "volant" almost always appears after the noun — a syntax picked up from French along with the meaning. Ultimately, "volant" comes from the Latin verb "volare," meaning "to fly." Another word that came to English through Middle French from "volare" is "volley," which refers to things flying back and forth through the air.

Word Family Quiz: What relative of "volant" can mean "easily becoming a vapor at a fairly low temperature" or "likely to change suddenly"? The answer is ...
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