Word of the Day


audio pronunciation
May 04, 2013
: excessively scanty : inadequate
New computer equipment would be prohibitively expensive, given the rural school's exiguous resources.

"The president got his tax increases; not only on the wealthy but also by raising the payroll tax that most affects ordinary Americans. Meaningful spending cuts, however, were so exiguous that they can't count for anything more than window dressing." — From a column by Phil Guarnieri in the New Hyde Park Illustrated News (New Hyde Park, New York), March 8, 2013
Get the Word of the Day direct to your inbox — subscribe today!
Did You Know?
"Exiguous" is so expansive sounding that you might expect it to mean "extensive" instead of "meager." Even a scanty glimpse at the word's etymology will disabuse you of that notion, however. "Exiguous" derives from the Latin "exiguus," which has the same basic meaning as the modern English term. "Exiguus," in turn, derives from the Latin verb "exigere," which is variously translated as "to demand," "to drive out," or "to weigh or measure." The idea of weighing or measuring so precisely as to be parsimonious or petty gave "exiguous" its present sense of inadequacy. Just so we aren't accused of being skimpy with the details, we should also mention that "exigere" is the parent term underlying other English words including "exact" and "exigent."

Name That Synonym: Fill in the blanks to create a synonym of "exiguous": s_a_s_. 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