October 17, 2011
intricate (adjective)
\IN-trih-kut\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: having many complexly interrelating parts, elements, or considerations : complicated
How do you use it?
"The bed, in an alcove at the far end of the room, was draped with a splendid cloth embroidered over its entire surface with intricate designs." (Lois Lowry, The Giver)
Are you a word wiz?

The word "intricate" comes from a Latin verb. Judging from what you know about "intricate," what do you think that Latin verb means?

No need to be perplexed; the correct answer is C. The word "intricate" came into English in the 15th century and was from the Latin verb "intricare," meaning "to entangle, perplex, or embarrass." The earliest English uses of "intricate" draw on the "entangled" or "perplexing" sense of the root verb. What is interesting about "intricate" is that, from the very beginning, it was used literally (to describe very finely-detailed and complicated patterns) and figuratively (to describe something intangible that is so complicated it is perplexing). The Latin verb itself comes from the Latin prefix "in-" and "tricae," meaning "trifles."
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