in-têr-kê-layt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: To insert into at various points, especially in a series, as to intercalate graphics at appropriate points in a book
Notes: Today's Good Word is obviously a perfectly formed Latin borrowing and so has the usual panoply of derivations: the noun is intercalation and the adjective, intercalary, as February has an intercalary day every four years (Leap Year).
In Play: Because of this word's close association with calendars, it is particularly fit to express the insertion of periods: "Maybe we should intercalate a few more vacation days into the schedule to reduce the stress levels of the crew." It is a good word to toss at a verbal bully who doesn't let any one else speak. "If I could just intercalate my own opinion," just might suffice to send him or her to a dictionary, allowing you time to express yourself.
Word History: Today's Good Word is based on the past participle (intercalatus) of the Latin verb intercalare "to proclaim", made up of inter "between, among" + calare "to call". This verb also contains the stem calendar is based on, calendarium, an account book whose name is based on calends, the first day of the month, when accounts were due and called in in ancient Rome. The original meaning of intercalate was to add days to the calendar to make it more accurate. (David Staebler suggested that we intercalate this interesting word among the Good Words of our series.)
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