Word of the Day : February 8, 2019


noun WYZE-ay-ker


: one who pretends to knowledge or cleverness; especially : smart aleck

Did You Know?

Given the spelling and definition of wiseacre, you might guess that the word derives from the sense of wise meaning "insolent" or "fresh"—the sense that also gives us wise guy, wisecrack, and wisenheimer. But, in fact, wiseacre came to English by a different route: it is derived from the Middle Dutch wijssegger, meaning "soothsayer." Wiseacre first appeared in English way back in the 16th century, while the "insolent" sense of wise and the words formed from it are products of the 19th century. The etymologies of wiseacre and wise are not completely distinct, however; the ancestors of wiseacre are loosely tied to the same Old English root that gave us wise.


"Regardless of how they choose to do so, most people who contact Congress have legitimate concerns—but, as any staffer can tell you, there is a small but enduring subgroup of wiseacres and crackpots. Moore, the former congressional staffer, once took a call from a man who claimed, in all seriousness, to be the true and rightful owner of the moon." — Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 6 Mar. 2017

"A French nobleman-soldier who is mad for love and poetry in roughly equal measure, a chivalric wiseacre adept at wordplay and swordplay alike, Cyrano requires an actor who is both physically and intellectually nimble." — Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe, 20 July 2018

Name That Synonym

What synonym of wiseacre is a compound of a word that means "brainy" and another that refers to an item of clothing?



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