Word of the Day : December 24, 2013

debonair

play
adjective deb-uh-NAIR

Definition

1 : dressing and acting in an appealing and sophisticated way : fashionable, attractive, and confident : suave, urbane

2 : lighthearted, nonchalant

Did You Know?

In Anglo-French, someone who was genteel and well-brought-up was described as "deboneire"-literally "of good family or nature" (from the three-word phrase "de bon aire"). When the word was borrowed into English in the 13th century, it basically meant "courteous," a narrow sense now pretty much obsolete. Today's "debonair" incorporates charm, polish, and worldliness, often combined with a carefree attitude (think James Bond). And yes, we tend to use this sense mostly, though not exclusively, of men. In the 19th century, we took the "carefree" part and made it a sense all its own. "The crowd that throngs the wharf as the steamer draws alongside is gay and debonair; it is a noisy, cheerful, gesticulating crowd," wrote Somerset Maugham in 1919 in his novel The Moon and Sixpence.


Examples

David, a handsome and debonair bachelor, was among the first guests to arrive at Hannah's Christmas Eve party.

"One of the staunchest of these loyalists was Godfrey McHugh. McHugh was an Air Force general and Kennedy's Air Force aide from 1961 onward. A debonair figure who spoke French fluently and as a young major dated future first lady Jacqueline Bouvier, McHugh revered JFK." - From an article by Peter Grier in the Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 2013



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What word completes this sentence from a former Word of the Day piece: "The political analyst insisted that the government's policy was misguided and would only sow __________ by increasing poverty and discontent"? The answer is …


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