Word of the Day : November 6, 2010

vagary

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noun VAY-guh-ree

Definition

: an erratic, unpredictable, or extravagant manifestation, action, or notion

Did You Know?

In the 16th century, if you "made a vagary" you took a wandering journey, or you figuratively wandered from a correct path by committing some minor offence. If you spoke or wrote vagaries, you wandered from a main subject. These senses hadn't strayed far from their origin, as "vagary" is probably based on Latin "vagari," meaning "to wander." Indeed, in the 16th and 17th centuries there was even an English verb "vagary" that meant "to wander." Nowadays, the noun "vagary" is mostly used in its plural form, and vagaries have more to do with unpredictability than with wandering.


Examples

Stock market analysts were pressed to determine whether the sharp decline in prices was a one-day vagary or a sign of more serious economic trouble on the horizon.

"Allocating water is not an easy job, especially considering the vagaries of Western weather. A dry winter, such as Montana experienced this year, was offset by an unusually wet spring and summer." -- From an article by Brett French in the Billings Gazette (Montana), September 29, 2010



Quick Quiz

What synonym of "vagary" begins with "c" and may come from an Italian word for "hedgehog"? The answer is ...


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