Word of the Day : January 17, 2015


verb dis-TEM-per


: to throw out of order

Did You Know?

If you temper something, you soften or dilute it by mixing in something else. You might, for example, temper wine with water or temper judgment with mercy. But what if you add the wrong thing and just end up with a big mess? That's the general idea behind distemper, which came to English in the 14th century from Late Latin distemperare ("to mix badly"). Nowadays, we often use the participial form distempered to refer to a mood that is affected by negative feelings. There's also the noun distemper, which can mean "bad humor or temper" or "a serious virus disease of dogs." Another noun and verb pair of distemper entered English centuries after our featured word. The noun refers to a painting process in which pigments are mixed with glutinous substances, like egg yolks or whites. The related verb means "to paint in or with distemper."


Martha worried that employee morale at the company would be distempered if the rumored merger were to happen.

"The night was rightfully dedicated to much of the new album, 'Come On a Get It' opening the set while the Schoolhouse Rock-influenced 'Stand' and bolder still 'Rock Star City Life' distempered the more recognizable pellets in Kravitz's arsenal." - Selena Fragassi, PopMatters, February 15, 2013

Test Your Memory

What former Word of the Day is a Latin phrase used in English as an adverb or adjective meaning "by virtue of or in the exercise of one's office or position"? The answer is …


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