Good morning and happy February 1st! Here’s what this week’s words are all about:

“A Washington Post headline last year ran: Four-letter word again blankets the region. No, the capital region wasn’t having an epidemic of the F-word.
It was the S-word. Sure, the stuff looks nice when you’re warm sitting indoors, but too much of anything can bring out four-letter words. Just look at the diary of this man new to Minnesota.
This week we feature some short words, all four letters long. You can say four-letter words blanket the world. But not to worry — they are all clean”

Have a great week!

yerk (yuhrk)

verb transitive, intransitive: to rise, stir, strike, whip, pull, kick, etc.
noun: a sudden movement, kick, jerk, stab, etc

Etymology
Of uncertain origin. Perhaps imitative. Earliest documented use: 1424

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“This was our warm-up for the Wild Chipmunk, the legendary Lakeside roller coaster famous for its endless jerking and yerking.”
Ricardo Baca; Bars; Denver Post (Colorado); Oct 6, 2006.


unco (UHNG-koh)

adjective: unusual; remarkable; strange
adverb: remarkably; extremely
noun: 1. a stranger 2. news

Etymology
A variant of uncouth, from uncuth, from un- (not) + cuth (known), from cunnan (to know). Ultimately from the Indo-European root gno- (to know), which also gave us know, recognize, acquaint, ignore, diagnosis, notice, normal, agnosia, anagnorisis, prosopagnosia, cognize, gnomon, and kenning. Earliest documented use: 1410

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“‘You’re unco late, dear,’ she would say wearily.”
George Douglas Brown; The House with the Green Shutters; McClure, Phillips & Co.; 1902.

“Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears.”
Robert Burns; The Cotter’s Saturday Night; 1785.


saga (SAH-guh)

noun: 1. a long narrative of heroic exploits
2. a long detailed report

Etymology
From Old Norse, literally (narrative). Originally, a saga was an Old Norse or Icelandic prose narrative dealing with historic or legendary figures. Earliest documented use: 1709

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“This May’s Avengers movie will bring together the successful Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America sagas into one franchise-uniting megamovie.”
Darren Franich; Avengers vs. X-Men #1; Entertainment Weekly (New York); Feb 8, 2012.


diel (DY-uhl, deel)

noun: a period of 24 hours
adjective: lasting 24 hours or having a 24-hour period

Etymology
From Latin dies (day), which also gave us adjourn, diary, diet, circadian, journal, journey, quotidian, and sojourn. Earliest documented use: 1934

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“Composition of fishing labour, sites worked, gear used, and target species all vary during the diel cycle. For example, in American Samoa both men and women fish by day, but night-time fishing is primarily a male task.”
Nicholas V.C. Polunin and Callum M. Roberts; Reef Fisheries; Springer; 1996.


alar (AY-luhr)

adjective: 1. relating to wings; wing-shaped
2. Relating to the armpit

Etymology
From Latin ala (wing), which also gave us aisle and aileron. Earliest documented use: 1791

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“Fred Urquhart began in 1937 to experiment with different ways of marking these delicate insects in order to study their migration patterns, eventually developing and refining the method of applying an alar tag to the monarch’s wing.”
Gerry Rising; A Salute to the King of the Monarch Butterflies; Buffalo News (New York); Dec 16, 1996.

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