Word of the Day : October 25, 2010

sea change



: a marked change : transformation

Did You Know?

In Shakespeare's "The Tempest," a "sea-change" is a change brought about by sea: "Full fathom five thy father lies ... / Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change." This meaning is the original one, but it's now archaic. Long after "sea change" had gained its figurative meaning, however, writers continued to allude to Shakespeare's literal one; Charles Dickens, Henry David Thoreau, and P.G. Wodehouse all used the term as an object of the verb "suffer." Today you're most likely to see the word as it's used in the two examples given above.

Test Your Memory: Our featured word on October 5 was "sigmoid." It means ...


The mayor said that she doubts the project will proceed, unless there's a sea change in public opinion.

"Homeowners are flocking to refinance their mortgage loans at record low interest rates, but unlike past refinancing waves, few are using their homes like ATMs and cashing out to buy cars, take vacations, or remodel.... This newfound frugality represents a sea change in how Americans have viewed their homes in recent years, when rising values provided a ready source of borrowed money to support spending." -- From an article by Robert Gavin in The Boston Globe, September 12, 2010


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