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February 8, 2019

Word of the Day: Wiseacre

2 CQ

Word of the Day : February 8, 2019

wiseacre \WYZE-ay-ker\ noun


: 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.

Aired February 8, 2019

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