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October 24, 2009

Word of the Day

  • gruntle
  • audio pronunciation
  • \GRUN-tul\
  • DEFINITION

verb

: to put in a good humor
  • EXAMPLES

The hour wait irked us, but once we were seated, we were immediately gruntled by an amiable waiter.

  • DID YOU KNOW?

The verb "disgruntle," which has been around since 1682, means "to make ill-humored or discontented." The prefix "dis-" often means "to do the opposite of," so people might naturally assume that if there is a "disgruntle," there must have first been a "gruntle" with exactly the opposite meaning. But actually, "dis-" doesn’t always work that way -- in some rare cases it functions instead as an intensifier. "Disgruntle" developed from this intensifying sense of "dis-" plus "gruntle," an old word meaning "to grumble." In the 1920s, a writer humorously used "gruntle" to mean "to make happy" -- in other words, as an antonym of "disgruntle." The use caught on. At first "gruntle" was used only in humorous ways, but people eventually began to use it seriously as well.

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