Children's, Intermediate and Advanced Online English Dictionary & Thesaurus

  • Word of the Day
    shyster

    shaI st@r

    noun
    a person, usu. a lawyer, who uses underhanded, unethical methods.
    That shyster accepted her fee for his services but did almost nothing for her.

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  • Vocabulary of the Day
    naysayer

    neI seI @r

    noun
    a person who refuses, denies, or opposes, esp. because of cynicism or pessimism.
    They went ahead with their ambitious plan despite the arguments of the naysayers.

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Jul
16
2013

In Latin, focus means “hearth” or “fireplace.” It entered English in the 1600s as a word for the point where rays of light meet. The meaning “center of activity or energy” came into use in the 1700s. Because the hearth was for centuries the center of home life, it is not surprising that, today, several of the meanings of focus have something to do with a center or meeting point.

If you enjoyed this word history, try looking up these words in the Word Explorer Dictionary for Children: weird, compassion, barbecue, curfew, and gossip. Some of these histories will surprise you!