Word of the Day


audio pronunciation
June 02, 2013
: tending to contract or bind : astringent; especially : tending to check bleeding
The vet advised that we keep a styptic agent handy while clipping the cat's claws, just in case.

"Alum contains aluminum sulfate and is found in styptic pencils and as astringents." — From a column by Pat Shingleton in The Advocate (Florida), April 13, 2013
Get the Word of the Day direct to your inbox — subscribe today!
Did You Know?
People long ago recognized the power of certain substances to bind or contract organic tissue—a quality that has various uses and benefits. English speakers weren't original in this knowledge, and they copied speakers of Greek, Latin, and Anglo-French when they designated this quality as "styptic" in the Middle Ages. (The word in Greek, "styptikos," is from "styphein," which means "to contract.") One thing that a styptic substance can do is stop bleeding, and almost from the start the word "styptic" has referred to this quality especially. It has also been applied to things that make your mouth contract, or pucker, as well as to substances that might affect your digestive organs with a "binding" effect.

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "exiguous," our Word of the Day from May 4? 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