Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.

Merriam-Webster


    • Oct 26, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
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    • 547 EPISODES

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    Latest episodes from Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

    facile

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 26, 2021 1:13

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 26, 2021 is: facile • FASS-ul • adjective Facile means "too easily accomplished or attained." // The facts of the unsolved mystery were intriguing, but the author's conclusion was facile. See the entry > Examples: "It feels as though the songs just came to be. They reveal a facile elegance that does not let on the laborious writing and technical work that went into their creation." — Julien A. Luebbers, The Spokesman Review (Spokane, Washington), 20 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Facile comes from the Latin facilis, meaning "easy," and facere, "to make or do." The adjective can mean "easy" or "easily done," as befits its Latin roots, but it now often adds the meaning of undue haste or shallowness, as in "facile answers to complex questions."

    hector

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2021 1:25

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 25, 2021 is: hector • HEK-ter • verb Hector means "to criticize or question in a threatening manner." // The mediator asked the unruly members of the audience to cease hectoring the speaker. See the entry > Examples: "… a sport hectored by scandal and dogged by unanswerable questions." — Bob Ford, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 28 July 2019 Did you know? In Homer's Iliad, Hector, the eldest son of King Priam of Troy, was a model soldier, son, father, and friend, the champion of the Trojan army until he was killed by the Greek hero Achilles. So how did his name become a verb meaning "to intimidate or harrass"? That use was likely influenced by gangs of rowdy street toughs who roamed London in the 17th century and called themselves "Hectors." They may have thought themselves gallant young blades, but to the general populace they were swaggering bullies who intimidated passersby and vandalized property.

    mirage

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 24, 2021 1:23

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 24, 2021 is: mirage • muh-RAHZH • noun A mirage is a reflection of light that can trick the mind into interpreting a sight as an apparently solid thing. The word is also used figuratively to describe things that are illusory or unattainable. // What the shipwrecked crew thought was a ship on the horizon turned out to be a mirage. // The team's early season hopes for a first-place finish are now a mirage. See the entry > Examples: "Kozell spent the first day after the storm patching holes in his own roof, and he's been helping clients ever since. A day off is a distant mirage for workers like him and Hasan, who predict they'll be patching roofs for weeks to come." — Matt Sledge, The Times-Picayune, 6 Sept. 2021 Did you know? Mirage comes from the French verb mirer ("to look at"), which is related to mirror. Mirer, itself, is from Latin mīrārī ("to wonder at"), the ancestor of the commonly seen admire, miracle, and marvel.

    bogus

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 23, 2021 1:18


    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 23, 2021 is: bogus • BOH-gus • adjective Bogus means "not real or genuine"—it is synonymous with fake or counterfeit. // The art dealer proved the painting to be bogus. See the entry > Examples: "Investigators said Talens … cheated manufacturers and merchants of more than $31 million by producing bogus coupons that gave customers merchandise at steep discounts—or for free." — Jonathan Edwards, The Washington Post. 18 Sept. 2021 Did you know? In the early 19th century, a "bogus" was a machine used to make counterfeit coins. No one knows for sure how this coin-copying contraption got its name, but before long bogus became a name for funny money or for a fraudulent imitation of any kind. The more common "phony" adjective followed.


    devotion

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 22, 2021 1:20

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 22, 2021 is: devotion • dih-VOH-shun • noun Devotion means being dedicated or loyal, or expressing dedication or loyalty. // The organizer's devotion to the cause of the fundraiser was greatly admired. // The students' devotion of their time to the science project was not overlooked by their teacher. See the entry > Examples: "Restaurant loyalties run deep. Look at the scads of eateries that have drawn devotion for decades in the Park Cities, Preston Hollow, and environs." — Kathy Biehl, The Preston Hollow People (Dallas, Texas), 14 Sept. 2021 Did you know? Devotion and the verb devote come from the act of taking a vow (the Latin verb vovēre means "to vow"). Devote was once used as an adjective that could mean either "devout" or "devoted." While devout implies faithfulness of a religious nature ("a devout parishioner), devoted refers to one's commitment to another through love and loyalty ("a singer's devoted fans").

    untoward

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2021 1:29


    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 21, 2021 is: untoward • un-TOH-erd • adjective Untoward means "unruly, unfavorable, or improper." // The rules specify that untoward behavior will not be tolerated. See the entry > Examples: "At 82, Judy Collins retains the crystalline tone that made her an icon of the early 1960s folk music movement, sounding so youthful … it's hard not to ask her whether she's made an untoward bargain with the devil." — Andrew Gilbert, The San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Sept. 2021 Did you know? For centuries, toward was used for "forward-moving" youngsters, the kind who showed promise and were open to listening to their elders. The adjective then came to mean "obliging." The opposite of this toward is froward, meaning "disobedient." Froward has fallen out of common use, and the cooperative sense of toward is obsolete, but untoward is still moving forward.


    batten

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 20, 2021 1:19

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 20, 2021 is: batten • BAT-un • verb Batten means "to furnish or fasten with or as if with supports." // Residents battened down their doors and windows before the storm. See the entry > Examples: "Everything was battened down and they were all set to leave the round-the-clock eatery—until they discovered there was no key to the front door. It had been that long since they'd locked it." — Bob Yesbek, The Cape Gazette (Lewes, Delaware), 7 May 2021 Did you know? Batten comes from the name for an iron bar used to secure the covering of a hatchway on a ship, which was especially useful in preparation of stormy weather. The verb batten is used in variations of the phrase "batten down the hatches," which means "to prepare for a difficult or dangerous situation." It winds back to Latin battuere, meaning "to beat."

    nomenclature

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 1:15

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 19, 2021 is: nomenclature • NOH-mun-klay-cher • noun Nomenclature is most often used for a system of names for things, especially in science. // Starting a new job or entering a new field of study means becoming familiar with the nomenclature. See the entry > Examples: "Not everything called democracy is democratic. … Both capitalism and socialism have demonstrated that democracy is not automatic with nomenclature. Some policies promote democracy; others contradict the ideal." — Eugene Clemens, LNP (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), 18 Oct. 2021 Did you know? Nomenclature comes from a Latin word meaning "the assigning of names." English's name and noun are rooted in the Latinate nomen.

    nomenclature

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 1:15

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 19, 2021 is: nomenclature • NOH-mun-klay-cher • noun Nomenclature can mean "name," but it is most often used for a system of names or naming for things especially in science. // Starting a new job or entering a new field of study means becoming familiar with the nomenclature. See the entry > Examples: "Conkles Hollow, located less than two miles north of … the state park visitors' center, isn't technically part of the park…. But the nomenclature means little for visitors, who will find … myriad waterfalls along Conkle Hollow's two hiking trails." — Steve Stephens, The Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle Gazette, 19 Sept. 2021 Did you know? Nomenclature comes from a Latin word meaning "the assigning of names." English's name and noun is rooted in the Latinate nomen.

    zaftig

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 1:10

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 18, 2021 is: zaftig • ZAHF-tig • adjective Zaftig means "having a full, rounded figure"—in other words, "pleasingly plump." // Portraits of zaftig models are exhibited in the artist's collection. See the entry > Examples: "The photography exhibition revels in depictions of Coney Island, including Lisette Model's widely-reproduced 1939-40 portrait of a zaftig woman  … laughing as waves lap at her feet…." — Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 29 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Zaftig is one of a number of Yiddish-derived words that entered the English language during the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. It comes from Yiddish zaftik, which means "juicy" or "succulent" and itself derives from zaft, meaning "juice" or "sap."

    perpetuity

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 17, 2021 1:25

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 17, 2021 is: perpetuity • per-puh-TOO-uh-tee • noun Perpetuity is a state of continuing forever or for a very long time. // The property will be passed on from generation to generation in perpetuity.   See the entry > Examples: "Nearly 120 acres in Bradford County … will be free from development in perpetuity, thanks to a conservation easement acquisition by the North Florida Land Trust." — The Florida Times-Union, 18 Sept. 2021 Did you know? Continual existence—that elusive philosophical concept is reflected in perpetuity, which traces to Latin perpetuus, an adjective meaning "continual" or "uninterrupted." The word has specific legal use. It can refer, for example, to an arrangement in a will rendering land forever incapable of being surrendered or transferred (or at least, for a period longer than is set by rules against such arrangements) or to an annuity that is payable forever.

    gossamer

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 16, 2021 1:32

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 16, 2021 is: gossamer • GAH-suh-mer • adjective Gossamer means "extremely light, delicate, or tenuous." // Except for a few gossamer clouds, the sky was clear and blue. See the entry > Examples: "The dragonfly is our state insect…. As a beautiful predator with gossamer wings…, this insect deserves far more appreciation." — Barbara Hunt, The Mat-Su Valley (Alaska) Frontiersman, 2 Aug. 2021 Did you know? In the days of Middle English, a period of mild weather in late autumn or early winter was sometimes called a gossomer, literally "goose summer." People may have chosen that name for a late-season warm spell because October and November were the months when people felt that geese were at their best for eating. Gossomer was also used in Middle English as a word for filmy cobwebs floating through the air in calm, clear weather, apparently because somebody thought the webs looked like the down of a goose. This sense eventually inspired the adjective gossamer, which means "light, delicate, or tenuous"—just like cobwebs or goose down.

    embellish

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 15, 2021 1:14

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 15, 2021 is: embellish • im-BELL-ish • verb Embellish means "to make (something) more appealing or attractive with fanciful or decorative details." // As they grew older, the children realized their grandfather embellished the stories of his travels abroad. // The gift shop had cowboy shirts and hats embellished with beads and stitching. See the entry > Examples: "Well, I've always wanted to write a children's book. This is just partly based on a story I used to tell Krishna, my daughter, when she was going to bed at night, but we just embellished it and embellished it." — Padma Lakshmi, quoted in Bon Appétit, 27 May 2021 Did you know? Embellish is related to the French word for "beautiful," bel, and, traditionally, it has been used to imply beautifying an object with the addition of things unessential. That's still true; however, it is equally appealing as an adjective for making statements or stories sound more entertaining.

    cabal

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2021 1:41

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 14, 2021 is: cabal • kuh-BAHL • noun A cabal is a group secretly united in a plot. // Military police arrested members of the cabal who were planning to overthrow the government. See the entry > Examples: "February 14? … That's an arbitrary date picked by a cabal of florists and greeting card manufacturers. Love can happen any time of the year…." — Bruce Gravel, Peterborough (Ontario) This Week, 4 Feb. 2021 Did you know? Cabal has been associated with a group of five ministers in the government of England's King Charles II. The initial letters of the names or titles of those men (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale) spelled cabal, and they have been collectively dubbed as the "Cabal Cabinet" or "Cabal Ministry." But these five names are not the source of the word cabal, which was in use decades before Charles II ascended the throne. The term traces back to cabbala, the Medieval Latin name for the Kabbalah, a traditional system of esoteric Jewish mysticism. Latin borrowed Cabbala from the Hebrew qabbālāh, meaning "received or traditional lore."

    odious

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 13, 2021 1:06

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 13, 2021 is: odious • OH-dee-us • adjective Odious means "causing strong hatred or dislike." // The biography is an in-depth account of one of the most odious serial killers in American history. See the entry > Examples: "There are probably few things more emotion-laden and odious as taxes. But for a society to function for the common good, they are a necessary evil." — William P. Cawley, The Richmond (Virginia) Times Dispatch, 15 Sept. 2021 Did you know? Odious comes from Latin odiosus; that adjective is from the word for "hatred," odium. Odium is related to the English verb annoy, and it is used in English to mean "hatred" or "disgrace."

    extricate

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 1:15

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 12, 2021 is: extricate • EK-struh-kayt • verb Extricate means "to free or remove someone or something from an entanglement or difficulty." // Firefighters extricated the passengers from the wreckage. // The wife of the accused hired an attorney to extricate herself from the allegations brought against her husband. See the entry > Examples: "The skylight has been lifted off Toland Hall to create an opening large enough to extricate the panels by crane." — Sam Whiting, The San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Extricate is used for the act of freeing someone or something from a tangled situation. Its spelling and meaning comes from Latin extricatus, which combines the prefix ex- ("out of") with the noun tricae, meaning "trifles or perplexities." The resemblance of tricae to trick is no illusion—it's an ancestor.

    restaurateur

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2021 1:28

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 11, 2021 is: restaurateur • res-tuh-ruh-TER • noun A restaurateur is a person who owns or manages a restaurant. // The restaurateur has created an exquisite menu to match the elegantly renovated dining room. See the entry > Examples: "Savvy restaurateurs have been turning to milkshakes to create buzz for their brands in recent years thanks to the visual nature of maxed-out milkshakes … with their over-the-top flavors laden with indulgent toppings like churros, whole cake slices and ice cream bars." — The Nation's Restaurant News, 20 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Restaurateur and restaurant are French words from Latin restaurare, meaning "to restore." Of the two words, restaurant is more common—a fact that may have influenced the development of the variant spelling restauranteur for restaurateur. Some people consider restauranteur to be an error, but it is still on the menu as an acceptable word choice.

    amicable

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 10, 2021 1:34

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 10, 2021 is: amicable • AM-ih-kuh-bul • adjective Amicable means "showing a polite and friendly desire to avoid disagreement and argument." // The partners maintained an amicable relationship after selling the business. See the entry > Examples: "I value the hours of amicable, nuanced conversations on complex topics with the people I have met, which always prove to be full of disagreement but also surprising amounts of agreement and understanding." — John Rochford, The Iowa State Daily (Ames, Iowa), 21 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Amicable comes from Latin amīcābilis, meaning "friendly," and amāre, "to feel affection for" or "to love." Amāre has a number of English descendants, including amiable ("friendly, sociable, and congenial"), amorous ("strongly moved by love and especially sexual love"), and amateur, which, though it might seem surprising, is related to amāre by way of the Latin amātor, which means "lover" as well as "enthusiastic admirer" and "devotee."

    amicable

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 10, 2021 1:34

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 10, 2021 is: amicable • AM-ih-kuh-bul • adjective Amicable means "showing a polite and friendly desire to avoid disagreement and argument." // The partners maintained an amicable relationship after selling the business. See the entry > Examples: "I value the hours of amicable, nuanced conversations on complex topics with the people I have met, which always prove to be full of disagreement but also surprising amounts of agreement and understanding." — John Rochford, The Iowa State Daily (Ames, Iowa), 21 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Amicable comes from Latin amīcābilis, meaning "friendly," and amāre, "to feel affection for" or "to love." Amāre has a number of English descendants, including amiable ("friendly, sociable, and congenial"), amorous ("strongly moved by love and especially sexual love"), and amateur, which, though it might seem surprising, is related to amāre by way of the Latin amātor, which means "lover" as well as "enthusiastic admirer" and "devotee."

    fret

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 9, 2021 1:14

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 9, 2021 is: fret • FRET • verb Fret means "to become worried or concerned." // The director fretted over every detail of the show's opening night performance. See the entry > Examples: "Notre Dame had four players who needed surgery this week. … It's a troubling start that every coach frets about. — Mike Hutton, Sports Illustrated, 9 Sept. 2021 Did you know? The meat-and-potatoes meaning of fret is "to eat." The verb is used literally, as in "Moths fretted the clothing," but more often figuratively to describe actions that corrode or wear away. A river "frets away" at its banks, or something might be said to be "fretted out" with time or age. Fret also applies to emotional experiences so that something that "eats away at someone" is "fretting the heart or mind."

    scion

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 8, 2021 1:18


    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 8, 2021 is: scion • SYE-un • noun A scion is an heir or descendant of a wealthy or influential family. // As scions of the celebrity family, the siblings have options when choosing their career paths. See the entry > Examples: "Walker was the beloved, indulged scion of a wealthy East Coast family, the son of the first curator of the National Gallery and a descendant of Thomas More, the author of the 15th-century satire 'Utopia.'" — Parul Sehgal, The New York Times, 1 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Scion comes from Anglo-French cioun, meaning "offspring" or "new growth of a plant." When it first sprouted in English, it referred to a plant's shoot; the word was then applied to portions of a plant that have been grafted. The figurative meaning, "descendant," blossomed later, with particular reference to those who were descendants of notable families.


    cavalier

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 1:31

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 7, 2021 is: cavalier • kav-uh-LEER • adjective Cavalier means "having or showing no concern for important or serious matters." // The company asks employees to watch informative videos on topics such as the dangers of being cavalier in sharing information with unverified emailers. See the entry > Examples: "Another surprisingly common problem is grant applications that are poorly written. In some cases, poor writing can make your argument difficult to comprehend, and it certainly suggests a cavalier attitude to the process." — Michelle Havich, The American City & County (Atlanta, Georgia), 12 Aug. 2021 Did you know? The adjective cavalier comes from a noun referring to a gentleman or knight who is trained in arms and horsemanship. The noun traces back to Latin caballārius, meaning "horseback rider" or "groom." It is also used for "a swaggering fellow," and English Puritans used it disdainfully to their adversaries, the swashbuckling royalist followers of Charles I, who sported longish hair and swords. Their use undoubtedly contributed to the adjective's reference to a rather unbecoming quality.

    cavalier

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 1:31

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 7, 2021 is: cavalier • kav-uh-LEER • adjective Cavalier means "having or showing no concern for important or serious matters." // The company asks employees to watch informative videos on topics such as the dangers of being cavalier in sharing information with unverified emailers. See the entry > Examples: "Another surprisingly common problem is grant applications that are poorly written. In some cases, poor writing can make your argument difficult to comprehend, and it certainly suggests a cavalier attitude to the process." — Michelle Havich, The American City & County (Atlanta, Georgia), 12 Aug. 2021 Did you know? The adjective cavalier comes from a noun referring to a gentleman or knight who is trained in arms and horsemanship. The noun traces back to Latin caballārius, meaning "horseback rider" or "groom." It is also used for "a swaggering fellow," and English Puritans used it disdainfully to their adversaries, the swashbuckling royalist followers of Charles I, who sported longish hair and swords. Their use undoubtedly contributed to the adjective's reference to a rather unbecoming quality.

    loll

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2021 1:14

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 6, 2021 is: loll • LAHL • verb Loll most often means "to droop or hang loosely." It can also mean "to act or move in a relaxed or lazy manner." // The exhausted dog plopped on the floor with its tongue lolling out. // It was a dreary Saturday, and James decided to loll around in his pajamas and catch up on his TV shows. See the entry > Examples: "Curiously, while the seals loll on the sand for a month, their metabolic capacity does not decrease." — Veronique Greenwood, The New York Times, 8 July 2021 Did you know? Loll has origins similar to another soothing verb, lull, which means "to cause to rest or sleep." Both probably originated as imitations of the soft sounds people make when resting or trying to soothe someone else to sleep. Loll shares synonyms with a number of l verbs, including loaf, lounge, and laze.

    intransigent

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 1:34

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 5, 2021 is: intransigent • in-TRAN-suh-junt • adjective Intransigent means "characterized by refusal to compromise or to abandon an extreme position or attitude." // Despite the mediator's best efforts, the opposing sides in the dispute remained intransigent. See the entry > Examples: "So we're this incredibly adaptable creature because we have these very plastic brains. And our experience imprints itself on those brains, and we become habituated to things. … And that's just the way they are. … And this is … what makes us so intransigent, so resistant to change…." — James Suzman, quoted in The New York Times, 29 June 2021 Did you know? Intransigent comes from Spanish intransigente, meaning "uncompromising." Its root is transigir ("to compromise"), which is related to Latin transigere ("to come to an agreement"). The French have a similar verb, transiger, which also means "to compromise." Transigent as an opposite of intransigent has yet to become recognized as an acceptable word in the English language.

    mettle

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 1:47

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 4, 2021 is: mettle • MET-ul • noun Mettle refers to the ability to continue in spite of difficulties. // The contestants proved their mettle by completing the triathlon. See the entry > Examples: "Recently, 23 of Watauga's best math students met virtually to test their mettle against their peers in the annual MathCounts competition—a contest that tasks young mathematicians to tackle challenging math problems in a timed tournament format." — The Blowing Rocket (Blowing Rock, North Carolina), 22 Apr. 2021 Did you know? Originally, mettle was simply a variant spelling of the word metal (which dates to at least the 13th century), and it was used in all of the same senses as its metallic relative. Over time, however, mettle came to be used mainly in figurative senses referring to the quality of someone's character. It eventually became a distinct English word in its own right, losing its literal sense altogether. Metal remained a term primarily used for those hard, shiny substances such as steel or iron, but it also acquired a figurative use. Today, both words can mean "vigor and strength of spirit or temperament," but only metal is used of metallic substances.

    adroit

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 3, 2021 1:14

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 3, 2021 is: adroit • uh-DROYT • adjective Adroit means "having or showing skill, cleverness, or resourcefulness in handling situations." // The CEO has been praised for his adroit management of the company's financial recovery. See the entry > Examples: "[Dominic Raab] has proved adroit in the past at defusing potentially difficult select committee sessions, notably over overseas aid cuts." — Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (UK), 31 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Adroit goes back to an Old French word meaning "handsome or elegant" as well as "skilled in combat." The adjective is still used to imply skillfulness, but usually not of the physical kind. Adroit most often describes cleverness that achieves one's purpose in spite of difficulties.

    cozen

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 2, 2021 1:26

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 2, 2021 is: cozen • KUZ-un • verb Cozen means "to deceive, win over, or influence with pleasing words or actions or by trickery." // Under the guise of a made-up charity, the scammers cozened people into giving them their credit card information. // Five-year-old Mimi managed to cozen her grandmother into buying her the stuffed bear. See the entry > Examples: "In the histories, indeed, we may be amazed and grieved to read how (seemingly) Melkor deceived and cozened others, and how … Melkor knew well the error of his ways…." — J.R.R. Tolkien, "Ósanwe-Kenta," ca. 1960 Did you know? Cozen is believed to come from the Italian word for a horse trader, cozzone. Horse-trading, as in the actual swapping of horses, usually involved bargaining and compromise—and, in fact, the term horse-trading has come to suggest any shrewd negotiation. It seems safe to assume that not all of these negotiations were entirely on the up-and-up. Given its association with horse traders, it's not too surprising that cozen suggests deception and fraud.

    vestige

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 1, 2021 1:22

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 1, 2021 is: vestige • VESS-tij • noun A vestige is a trace, mark, or visible sign left by something lost or vanished. // The seconds ticked by, but the team still had a vestige of hope. // The ruins remain as vestiges of the Roman occupation of Britain. See the entry > Examples: "We see this galaxy as it was, not as it is today. It is theoretically possible the galaxy no longer exists but the light will continue toward Earth through the vacuum of space until the last vestiges reach our eyes and it disappears." — Bob Allen, The Daily Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, Iowa), 26 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Vestige traces to Latin vestigium, meaning "footstep, footprint, or track." Like its parent, it is used to refer to a perceptible sign made by something that has passed or to a tangible reminder, such as a fragment or remnant of what is past and gone.

    filial

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2021 1:28

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 30, 2021 is: filial • FIL-ee-ul • adjective Filial means "of, relating to, or befitting a person's child." // Margaret's sense of filial responsibility is only part of her motivation for carrying on her parents' business; she also loves the work. See the entry > Examples: "The text purports to be Geppetto's captivity journal…. He recounts the story of Pinocchio's creation and truancy; he records [that] he continues to make art, painting portraits of lost loves and fashioning filial surrogates—lifeless, alas—out of old hard tack and shards of crockery." — Bruce Handy, The New York Times, 14 Feb. 2021 Did you know? Filial comes from Latin filius, meaning "son," and filia, "daughter"; in English, it applies to any gender. The word has long carried the dutiful sense "owed to a parent by a child," as found in such phrases as "filial respect" and "filial piety." These days it can also be used more generally for any emotion or behavior of a child to a parent.

    zest

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 29, 2021 1:23

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 29, 2021 is: zest • ZEST • noun Zest means "keen enjoyment" or "an enjoyably exciting quality." // The young couple has a zest for travel and adventure.   // The seasoning added zest to the otherwise bland dish. See the entry > Examples: "It has always seemed bizarre to me to start talking about the coming winter in August. But this is Jackson Hole, and the zest for snow never seems to end." — Jim Woodmencey, The Jackson Hole (Wyoming) News and Guide, 25 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Zest can spice up your life—fitting for a word that English acquired from the world of cooking. Zest comes from French zeste, the name for orange or lemon peel used to flavor food or drinks. English speakers adopted the French meaning and developed an additional one referring to any quality that adds enjoyment to something in the same way that the zest of an orange or lemon adds flavor to food.

    zest

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 29, 2021 1:23

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 29, 2021 is: zest • ZEST • noun Zest means "keen enjoyment" or "an enjoyably exciting quality." // The young couple has a zest for travel and adventure.   // The seasoning added zest to the otherwise bland dish. See the entry > Examples: "It has always seemed bizarre to me to start talking about the coming winter in August. But this is Jackson Hole, and the zest for snow never seems to end." — Jim Woodmencey, The Jackson Hole (Wyoming) News and Guide, 25 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Zest can spice up your life—fitting for a word that English acquired from the world of cooking. Zest comes from French zeste, the name for orange or lemon peel used to flavor food or drinks. English speakers adopted the French meaning and developed an additional one referring to any quality that adds enjoyment to something in the same way that the zest of an orange or lemon adds flavor to food.

    parlay

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2021 1:16

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 28, 2021 is: parlay • PAHR-lay • verb Parlay means "to turn (something) into something of greater value." // The young actor parlayed his popularity as a teen heartthrob into a successful film career. See the entry > Examples: "Since his pro debut in 1995, [Manny Pacquiao] has won world titles in a record eight weight classes and parlayed boxing fame into political clout." — Morgan Campbell, The New York Times, 22 Aug. 2021 Did you know? In gambling, parlay is used for a series of bets in which a person places a bet, then puts the original stake of money and all of its winnings on new wagers. The noun comes from the French name for such bets: paroli. Be careful not to mix up the verb parlay with the similar word parley, meaning "to speak with another or to confer."

    misbegotten

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2021 1:20

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 27, 2021 is: misbegotten • miss-bih-GAH-tun • adjective Misbegotten means "ill-conceived." It can also mean "having an improper origin." // The celebrity's misbegotten tweet went viral.  // The university's Board of Trustees rejected the misbegotten plan for building a new football stadium. See the entry > Examples: "… one of those misbegotten oddities that cheats you out of the film you imagine you'll be getting from its opening 10 minutes...." — Robbie Collin, The Daily Telegraph (London), 6 Aug. 2021 Did you know? In the beginning, there was begietan, and begietan begot beyeten; then in the days of Middle English beyeten begot begeten. All of the Old English and Middle English ancestors above basically meant the same thing as the modern beget—that is, "to father" or "to produce as an effect or outgrowth." That linguistic line with the prefix mis- (meaning "wrongly" or "badly") brought forth misbegotten.

    dedication

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 26, 2021 1:22

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 26, 2021 is: dedication • ded-ih-KAY-shun • noun Dedication means "devotion or loyalty to a person or cause." // With great dedication, the scientists worked to perfect the vaccine. // At his retirement party, his boss said a few words about Tom's dedication and commitment to the company. See the entry > Examples: "President Steven Eggland, PhD, named the foundation in honor of his Norwegian immigrant heritage and the family's longtime dedication to charitable acts and modest philanthropy." — The Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star, 26 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Dedication goes back to the 14th century in which it referred to the solemn act of dedicating something, such as a calendar day or a church, to a deity or to a sacred use. Centuries later, it came to be used for the act of devoting time and energy to a particular purpose. Nowadays, dedication commonly indicates the quality of being loyal or devoted to a cause, ideal, or purpose.

    obtuse

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 25, 2021 1:13

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 25, 2021 is: obtuse • ahb-TOOSS • adjective Obtuse means "difficult to understand" or "unable to understand what is obvious." // The attorney explained the obtuse language in the contract to her client. // Maybe I am being obtuse, but I didn't understand the end of the movie. See the entry > Examples: "There are speeches and flags and somewhat obtuse artistic presentations, then at or near the end, the Olympic flame enters the stadium and is delivered to a cauldron … to burn for the next 16 days." — Brandon Veale, The Duluth (Minnesota) News-Tribune, 23 July 2021 Did you know? Obtuse comes from a Latin word meaning "dull" or "blunt." It can describe a geometric angle that is not acute or a person who is mentally "dull." In addition, obtuse can mean "hard to comprehend." That meaning is probably from confusion with the similar-sounding abstruse.

    hobnob

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 24, 2021 1:38

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 24, 2021 is: hobnob • HAHB-nahb • verb Hobnob means "to come or be together as friends." // Local business owners hobnobbed at the fundraiser. // The entertainment columnist learns about the latest gossip by hobnobbing with celebrities. See the entry > Examples: "Does declaring affection for Tanglewood, the iconic venue in the Berkshires, make me seem like a self-important muckety-muck eager to hobnob with elites from Boston and Manhattan? Well, so be it." — Chris Churchill, The Times-Union (Albany, New York), 25 July 2021 Did you know? In William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Sir Toby Belch warned Viola (who was disguised as a man) that Sir Andrew wanted to duel. "Hob, nob is his word," said Sir Toby, using "hob, nob" to mean something like "hit or miss." Sir Toby's term is probably an alteration of "hab nab," a phrase that meant "to have or not have, however it may turn out." After Shakespeare's day, hob and nob was used in the phrases "to drink hob or nob" and "to drink hobnob," which meant "to drink alternately to each other." Since "drinking hobnob" was generally done among friends, hobnob came to refer to congenial social interaction.

    hobnob

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 24, 2021 1:38

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 24, 2021 is: hobnob • HAHB-nahb • verb Hobnob means "to come or be together as friends." // Local business owners hobnobbed at the fundraiser. // The entertainment columnist learns about the latest gossip by hobnobbing with celebrities. See the entry > Examples: "Does declaring affection for Tanglewood, the iconic venue in the Berkshires, make me seem like a self-important muckety-muck eager to hobnob with elites from Boston and Manhattan? Well, so be it." — Chris Churchill, The Times-Union (Albany, New York), 25 July 2021 Did you know? In William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Sir Toby Belch warned Viola (who was disguised as a man) that Sir Andrew wanted to duel. "Hob, nob is his word," said Sir Toby, using "hob, nob" to mean something like "hit or miss." Sir Toby's term is probably an alteration of "hab nab," a phrase that meant "to have or not have, however it may turn out." After Shakespeare's day, hob and nob was used in the phrases "to drink hob or nob" and "to drink hobnob," which meant "to drink alternately to each other." Since "drinking hobnob" was generally done among friends, hobnob came to refer to congenial social interaction.

    hobnob

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 24, 2021 1:38

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 24, 2021 is: hobnob • HAHB-nahb • verb Hobnob means "to come or be together as friends." // Local business owners hobnobbed at the fundraiser. // The entertainment columnist learns about the latest gossip by hobnobbing with celebrities. See the entry > Examples: "Does declaring affection for Tanglewood, the iconic venue in the Berkshires, make me seem like a self-important muckety-muck eager to hobnob with elites from Boston and Manhattan? Well, so be it." — Chris Churchill, The Times-Union (Albany, New York), 25 July 2021 Did you know? In William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Sir Toby Belch warned Viola (who was disguised as a man) that Sir Andrew wanted to duel. "Hob, nob is his word," said Sir Toby, using "hob, nob" to mean something like "hit or miss." Sir Toby's term is probably an alteration of "hab nab," a phrase that meant "to have or not have, however it may turn out." After Shakespeare's day, hob and nob were used in the phrases "to drink hob or nob" and "to drink hobnob," which meant "to drink alternately to each other." Since "drinking hobnob" was generally done among friends, hobnob came to refer to congenial social interaction.

    chastise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2021 1:26


    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 23, 2021 is: chastise • chass-TYZE • verb Chastise means "to criticize (someone) harshly for doing something wrong." // The boss eventually had to chastise certain employees for being consistently late. See the entry > Examples: "I used to chastise people for not working as efficiently as the WWE. … I was judgmental and I was apprehensive and I wanted to be back in the ring because I loved that immediate gratification." — John Cena, quoted in USA Today, 5 Aug. 2021 Did you know? There are many words to express the infliction of a penalty in return for wrongdoing—for example, chastise, castigate, chasten, correct, discipline, and punish. Of these, chastise, chasten, and castigate share similar origins as well as similar meanings. Chastise developed as an altered form of chasten, which comes from the Anglo-French chastier, which has its roots in the Latin verb castigare, which also gave English the word castigate.


    chastise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2021 1:26


    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 23, 2021 is: chastise • chass-TYZE • verb Chastise means "to criticize (someone) harshly for doing something wrong." // The boss eventually had to chastise certain employees for being consistently late. See the entry > Examples: "I used to chastise people for not working as efficiently as the WWE. … I was judgmental and I was apprehensive and I wanted to be back in the ring because I loved that immediate gratification." — John Cena, quoted in USA Today, 5 Aug. 2021 Did you know? There are many words to express the infliction of a penalty in return for wrongdoing—for example, chastise, castigate, chasten, correct, discipline, and punish. Of these, chastise, chasten, and castigate share similar origins as well as similar meanings. Chastise developed as an altered form of chasten, which comes from the Anglo-French chastier, which has its roots in the Latin verb castigare, which also gave English the word castigate.


    inchoate

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2021 1:25

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 22, 2021 is: inchoate • in-KOH-ut • adjective Inchoate means "imperfectly formed or formulated." // In the podcast, the author described the process by which she took a series of inchoate vignettes and shaped them into her best-selling novel. See the entry > Examples: "Petrifying sights and sounds haunt her nights and inchoate shadows hover around her." — Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times, 19 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Inchoate comes from inchoare, which means "to start work on" in Latin but translates literally as "to hitch up" (inchoare combines the prefix in- with the Latin noun cohum, which refers to the strap that secures a plow beam to a draft animal's yoke). The concept of this initial step toward the larger task of plowing a field explains how inchoate came to describe something (as a plan or idea) in its early, not fully formed, stages of development.

    flehmen

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2021 1:39

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 21, 2021 is: flehmen • FLAY-mun • noun Flehmen is a mammalian behavior (as of horses or cats) in which the animal inhales with the mouth open and upper lip curled. This is done to expose the nose to a scent. // The vet explained that what appeared to be a display of anger in the cat was called flehmen. See the entry > Examples: "Flehmen, sometimes also called the Flehmen response or the Flehmen reaction, is actually a way of smelling or scenting the air. It's not peculiar to horses: other ungulates exhibit the response, as well as cats, elephants, and bats. Lifting the upper lip gives them access to the vomeronasal organ on the roof of their mouth, which contains chemoreceptors that help them find mates and investigate other smells in their environment." — The McClusky (North Dakota) Gazette, 10 Sept. 2020 Did you know? Flehmen comes from German, in which the word applies to animals and means "to curl the upper lip." The German source of the English word is a verb, and it is used, infrequently, as such, as in "the horse flehmened." More often, the English verb form is a gerund: "the horse's flehmening." Flehmen is sometimes capitalized in English because German nouns are capitalized; however, the English word tends to be lowercase.

    collude

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2021 1:19

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 20, 2021 is: collude • kuh-LOOD • verb Collude means "to conspire or plot." // The two companies had colluded to keep prices high. See the entry > Examples: "Seven … maintenance managers were federally charged … with bilking the transit agency out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by colluding with vendors to charge for goods that were never provided and pocketing the proceeds." — Thomas Fitzgerald and Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 Aug. 2021 Did you know? The Latin prefix col-, meaning "together," and the verb ludere, "to play," come together to form collude. The related noun collusion has the specific meaning "secret agreement or cooperation." Despite their playful history, collude and collusion have always suggested deceit or trickery rather than good-natured fun.

    lucid

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2021 1:00

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 19, 2021 is: lucid • LOO-sid • adjective Lucid means "very clear and easy to understand." // The author has a lucid writing style that makes the book enjoyable to read. See the entry > Examples: "Kynpham's prose is lucid and engaging and often lyrical and poetic…." — Kanchan Verma, Wired, 13 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Lucid comes from the Latin verb lucere, meaning "to shine," which is reflected in its meanings "filled with light" or "shining." It also describes someone whose mind is clear or something with a clear meaning.

    lucid

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2021 1:00

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 19, 2021 is: lucid • LOO-sid • adjective Lucid means "very clear and easy to understand." // The author has a lucid writing style that makes the book enjoyable to read. See the entry > Examples: "Kynpham's prose is lucid and engaging and often lyrical and poetic…." — Kanchan Verma, Wired, 13 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Lucid comes from the Latin verb lucere, meaning "to shine," which is reflected in its meanings "filled with light" or "shining." It also describes someone whose mind is clear or something with a clear meaning.

    vignette

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 18, 2021 1:23

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 18, 2021 is: vignette • vin-YET • noun A vignette is a short written description or a brief scene in a movie or play. // The play's program features a brief vignette about each member of the cast. // The documentary is a series of vignettes showing the lives of three families under quarantine during the pandemic. See the entry > Examples: "Additional pregame and in-game presentations will feature tributes and vignettes honoring [Phil] Niekro as one of baseball's greatest knuckleball pitchers." — The Albany (Georgia) Herald, 9 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Vignette comes from the Middle French noun vigne, meaning "vine." In English, the word was first used in the early 17th century for a design or illustration that ran along the blank border of a page, or one that marked the beginning or end of a chapter. Such designs got their name because they often looked like little vines. It wasn't until the late 19th century that vignette began being used for a brief literary sketch or narrative.

    precarious

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 17, 2021 1:35

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 17, 2021 is: precarious • prih-KAIR-ee-us • adjective Precarious means "characterized by uncertainty, insecurity, or instability that threatens with danger." // College debt leaves many students in a precarious financial situation after graduation. // The books were stacked high in a precarious tower. See the entry > Examples: "Staff may be anxious about returning to the office and want to be assured of their safety while leaders are in the precarious position of having to make what they think is the right call." — Bernard Coleman, Inc., 18 Aug. 2021 Did you know? "This little happiness is so very precarious, that it wholly depends on the will of others." Joseph Addison, in a 1711 issue of Spectator magazine, couldn't have described the oldest sense of precarious more precisely—the original meaning of the word was "depending on the will or pleasure of another." Precarious comes from a Latin word meaning "obtained by entreaty," which itself is from the word for prayer, prex.

    exonerate

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2021 1:24

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 16, 2021 is: exonerate • ig-ZAH-nuh-rayt • verb Exonerate means "to clear from a charge of wrongdoing or from blame." // The witness' testimonies were key in exonerating the defendant. // The report exonerated the captain from any blame for the ship's running aground. See the entry > Examples: "The actor met with Sooner State oil rig workers who helped him prepare for his role in 'Stillwater' as a father desperate to exonerate his jailed daughter of a murder conviction in France." — Peter Sblendorio, The Buffalo (New York) News, 1 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Exonerate comes from the Latin verb exonerare, meaning "to unburden." That verb combines the prefix ex- with onus, meaning "load" or "burden." In its earliest uses, exonerate was applied to physical burdens—a ship, for example, could be exonerated of its cargo when it was unloaded. Later it was used in reference to the freeing of any kind of burden, including blame or charges of wrongdoing.

    tribulation

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2021 1:35


    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 15, 2021 is: tribulation • trib-yuh-LAY-shun • noun Tribulation, which is often used in the phrase "trials and tribulations," refers to a trying experience. It can also mean "unhappiness, pain, or suffering." // The young, ambitious chef knew of trials and tribulations of opening a new restaurant, but he was ready for the undertaking. // Her son's illness has been a source of great tribulation. See the entry > Examples: "On the road to meet his destiny, Gawain must face a series of fearsome trials, tribulations and temptations as he gradually learns the true nature of chivalry." — Susan Granger, The Westport (Connecticut) News, 13 Aug.2021 Did you know? The writer and Christian scholar Thomas More, in his 1534 work A dialoge of comforte against tribulation, defined the title word as "euery such thing as troubleth and greueth [grieveth] a man either in bodye or mynde." These days, however, the word tribulation is commonly used as a plural noun, paired with trials, and relates less to oppression and more to any kind of uphill struggle. Tribulation comes from a Latin noun meaning "threshing board."


    responsive

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 14, 2021 1:37

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 14, 2021 is: responsive • rih-SPAHN-siv • adjective Responsive means "quick to respond or react in a desired or appropriate manner." // The Senator was responsive to the concerns voiced by the town's council and residents. // The eye contains cells that are responsive to light. See the entry > Examples: "A mobile responsive website is one that adapts to fit different screens, most notably mobile phones. It can do this in a number of ways that improve visibility and usability. For example, a mobile responsive site will have pictures that change to fit the screen size. Buttons and text will do the same, so they can all be viewed properly on a phone screen." — June Potter, The Times Union (Albany, New York), 17 June 2021 Did you know? Responsive comes from the joining of Latin responsus with the suffix -ivus, which gave English -ive. That suffix changes verbs into adjectives, as in suggestive or corrosive. Responsus is a form of respondēre, which means "to answer" and is the source of English's respond. Responsive enters the language with the meaning "giving response" or "answering." Examples are "a responsive letter" or "a responsive glance." Nowadays, it variously describes people or things that immediately respond or react to something, such as "a responsive audience" or "a car with responsive steering."

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