October 02, 2012
callous (adjective)
\KAL-us\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : being hardened and thickened2 : having calluses
How do you use it?
Despite a summer of going barefoot almost all the time, our callous feet were back to their soft pink selves by early October.
Are you a word wiz?

"Callous" is a word that's gotten thicker over the years. By that we mean it's grown meanings—one of which we haven't told you about yet. Which of the following do you think it is?

It wasn't hard to pick out answer C, was it? While callous skin has been hardened and thickened and actually has calluses, callous people are hardened so that they don't feel or show sympathy for others. Hey—did you notice anything funny spelling-wise in that last sentence? Today's Buzzword, the adjective "callous," is spelled with an "-ous," but the noun "callus"—which usually refers to a hard, thickened area on someone's skin—is spelled with just "-us." This is because of the words' Latin ancestors: both English words originally come from the Latin word "callus," but our adjective "callous" also had a Latin form "callosus."
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