Word of the Day : July 4, 2018


noun pye-ruh-TEK-niks


1 singular or plural in construction : the art of making or the manufacture and use of fireworks

2 a : a display of fireworks

b : a spectacular display (as of extreme virtuosity)

Did You Know?

The use of military fireworks in elaborate celebrations of war and peace is an ancient Chinese custom, but our term for the making and launching of fireworks is a product of the 17th and 18th centuries. Pyrotechnics and the earlier adjective pyrotechnic derive via French from the Greek nouns pyr ("fire") and techne ("art"). In pyr one can see such fiery relatives as pyromania, the term for an irresistible impulse to start fires, as well as pyrite, the mineral also known as fool's gold. (That word also has an obsolete meaning, in the form pyrites, referring to a stone used for striking fire.) Like fireworks, pyrotechnics also has an extended figurative usage, referring to any kind of dazzling display or performance.


The town's much-anticipated Independence Day pyrotechnics will be launched from the usual place: a tower on a mountain ridge along its eastern border.

"His talent as a writer and caricaturist was evident from the start in his verbal pyrotechnics and perfect mimicry of speech patterns, his meticulous reporting, and his creative use of pop language and explosive punctuation." — Deirdre Carmody and William Grimes, The New York Times, 15 May 2018

Word Family Quiz

Unscramble the letters to create a descendant of pyr that means "celestial" or "sublime": PEMLEARY.



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