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Today's Words: Backronym, Ennoble and Bagatelle


(bak-ruh-nim) Noun

an existing word turned into an acronym by creating an apt phrase whose initial letters match the word, to help remember it or offer a theory of its origin.

More about Backronym

First recorded in 1980–85.

Formed from the word back “toward the rear” and (ac)ronym, “a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase and pronounced as a separate word.”

Examples of Backronym

Some people believe the word newsstands for “notable events, weather, and sports,” but that’s not accurate; it’s a backronym.

My neighbour insists that SOS means “Save Our Ship” and wouldn’t believe that people made up that backronym years after SOS was first used.


(en-noh-buhl) Verb

to elevate in degree, excellence, or respect; dignify.

More about Ennoble

First recorded around 1425–75.

Comes from the late Middle English word ennobelen from the Old French ennoblir.

The related word noble, “distinguished,” comes from the Latin adjective (g)nōbilis “notable, of high rank,” equivalent to the root of the Latin verb (g)nōscere, “to get to know, find out.”

Examples of Ennoble

Through their charitable work, the organization seeks to ennoble the lives of those less fortunate in society.

We hope that the Word of the Day has ennobled vocabulary learning.


(bag-uh-tel) Noun

something of little value or importance; a trifle.

More about Bagatelle

First recorded in 1630–40.

Comes via French from the Italian word bagat(t)ella, related to bagatt(a), meaning “small possession.”

Bagatt(a) was perhaps a derivative of bag(a), “berry” and the diminutive suffixes –att(a) and –ella, from Latin –illa.

Examples of Bagatelle

In their relationship, they cherished even the simplest moments together, considering them not as mere bagatelles but as precious memories.

Despite her great achievements, she was always humble, viewing her success in the online dictionary industry as a bagatelle in the grand scheme of things.

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