Word up

The Reader’s Digest always told us that it does. The magazine’s vocabulary builder is still going strong and is an entertaining read after many, many years. And the Internet offers an easy new way to build your vocabulary, day by day, or “per diem” as they say in dictionary world.

Webster’s online dictionary, very useful in its own right, offers a great service that automatically emails you a “word of the day”, its definition, and a clear example of its use. Here’s a recent example:

diablerie   dee-AH-bluh-ree   (noun)
1 : black magic : sorcery
2 a : a representation in words or pictures of black magic
or of dealings with the devil b : demon lore
*3 : mischievous conduct or manner

Example sentence: Known for his rampant diablerie, Donald often played elaborate and cruel practical jokes on his college classmates. (* example usage)

Feeling devilish? Then you might be guilty of at least a little diablerie. Like the related and perhaps more familiar “diabolical,” the French “diablerie” originated with the Late Latin “diabolus,” which means “devil.” Fittingly, “diablerie” was first applied to thingrelated to the devil or to demons, particularly sorcery that was thought to call upon their aid. The word is also applied to representations of the demonic. Some of the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel, which often depict demons or hellish settings, are referred to as “diableries.” Nowadays, the word is also used for milder forms of mischief that aren’t necessarily evil or demonic, but that are at least playfully ill-willed.

If you’d like to receive the “word of the day” by email, free of charge, visit Webster’s site to sign on. An amusing and educational diversion, I must say.