Word of the Day : December 19, 2012


adjective AL-jid


: cold


"Lifting the taffeta hanging from the seat under the windows, he stroked the pipes of the radiator. He touched cold metal, metal algid as ice!" - From Carl Van Vechten's 1925 novel Firecrackers: A Realistic Novel

"They knew how to keep moving, with air so algid it hits like a sledgehammer the moment you step into it." - From Michael D'Orso's 2006 book Eagle Blue: A Team, a Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska

Did You Know?

"Algid" is a rather cold and lonely word, etymologically speaking-it's the only word in any of the dictionaries we publish that comes from the Latin word "algēre," meaning "to feel cold." Also, English speakers have warmed to its many synonyms-among them "cold," "frigid," "arctic," "chill"-much more readily than they've taken to "algid." Even its compatriot, "gelid"-also a Latin-derived adjective that can describe ice and arctic temperatures-has managed to outpace it in most decades of the approximately 400 years the words have been in use. In one context, though, "algid" does something its synonyms don't: it describes a severe form of malaria that is marked by prostration, cold and clammy skin, and low blood pressure-a meaning that probably hasn't done much to endear the more general use to speakers of English.

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