Saturday, March 2, 2024
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Word of the Day: atavistic


The word atavistic has appeared in 10 articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on March 21 in “The Robots Can’t Take Taxi-Whistling Away From Me” by Jon Gluck:

As proud as I am of my whistle, though, the truth is that it was never all that useful for hailing cabs, even when it ostensibly was. And someday soon, its nominal function will most likely go the way of the dodo, its demise brought on by ride-sharing apps and the ongoing loss of interest in all things that aren’t internet-enabled.

That’s fine with me. As I see it, the real pleasure of the taxi whistle is its outmodedness; the core of its charm is atavistic. In a world where virtually everything we do is mediated by technology, taxi-whistling is old-fashioned and physical: With just two fingers and one not even very deep breath, you can produce a delightful, if slightly shocking, noise. A loud, compelling statement — “Yo, over here!” — is always at the ready, literally at your fingertips. Nothing needs to be plugged in, charged or connected to a network. Not a single password (no passwords!) or two-factor authentication is required.

Can you correctly use the word atavistic in a sentence?

Based on the definition and example provided, write a sentence using today’s Word of the Day and share it as a comment on this article. It is most important that your sentence makes sense and demonstrates that you understand the word’s definition, but we also encourage you to be creative and have fun.

If you want a better idea of how atavistic can be used in a sentence, read these usage examples on Vocabulary.com. You can also visit this guide to learn how to use IPA symbols to show how different words are pronounced.

If you enjoy this daily challenge, try our vocabulary quizzes.


Students ages 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, can comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff.

The Word of the Day is provided by Vocabulary.com. Learn more and see usage examples across a range of subjects in the Vocabulary.com Dictionary. See every Word of the Day in this column.

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