Words of the Day: Adumbral, Adventure, Adventitious

I’ve been lax lately on my dictionary reading, though not so lax as my lack of Words of the Day posts would indicate. Never mind the excuses, on to the words. As usual, definitions come from Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, Third College Edition, 1988.

Adumbral (adjective): in the shadow; shady.

This word sounds like it belongs in an old poem, something like “In adumbral groves of beechnut trees did the despondent man ever search for his fey lady.”

It’s meaning should be easy to remember by recognizing “umbra” as meaning “shade” and being the root for “umbrella,” which shades from the sun (more commonly used to block the rain now, however).

Adventure (noun): “the encountering of danger” and “a daring, hazardous undertaking”. As Walter Mitty learns in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, adventure always involves danger and risk and it’s better to live it than to daydream it.

Adventitious (adjective): “not inherent” and “occurring in unusual or abnormal places”.  Synonym: accidental

This didn’t mean what I thought it did! I assumed it was connected to adventure, not accidental.

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