Word of the Day : April 7, 2015


adjective an-FRAK-chuh-wus


: full of windings and intricate turnings : tortuous

Did You Know?

Plots and paths can be anfractuous. They twist and turn but do not break. Never mind that our English word comes from Latin anfractus (same meaning as anfractuous), which in turn comes from the Latin verb frangere, meaning "to break." (Frangere is also the source of fracture, fraction, fragment, and frail.) The prefix an- here means "around." At first, anfractuous was all about ears and the auditory canal's anfractuosity, that is, its being curved rather than straight. Now anfractuous has been around some 400 years, without a break, giving it plenty of time to wind its way into other applications; e.g., there can be an anfractuous thought process or an anfractuous shoreline.


"Dr. X almost never left the boundaries of Old Shanghai, which was part of a separate district; more to the point, he stuck to a small but anfractuous subregion…." - Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age, 1995

"The anfractuous remainder of the plot is a booby trap for anyone trying to explain it." - James MacKillop, Syracuse (New York) New Times, November 9, 2011

Test Your Vocabulary

What adjective begins with "v" and can describe something tortuous or full of worms? The answer is …


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