July 13, 2012
contrast (noun)
\KAHN-trast\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : a person or thing that shows differences when compared to another2 : difference or unlikeness (as in color or brightness) between related things especially when very plain
How do you use it?
"This note, prettily written on scented paper, was a great contrast to the next, which was scribbled on a big sheet of thin foreign paper, ornamented with blots and all manner of flourishes and curly-tailed letters." (Louisa May Alcott, Little Women)
Are you a word wiz?

"Contrast" comes from a Latin word for an action you do on your feet. Which of these do you think is the root of "contrast"?

If you chose C, stand up and take a bow. "Contrast" traces back to the Latin root "stare," which means "to stand." Combining "stare" with the prefix "contra-," meaning "against," produced a verb that the French adopted to mean "to oppose or resist." When borrowed into English in the mid 1600s, the meaning changed to "to compare with respect to differences." The corresponding noun followed soon after. "Stare" has a large extended family which includes "stance," "circumstance," "constant," "distant," "instant," "obstacle," "stable," and "stage."
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