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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Updated 4 days ago

Rank #12 in Books category

Arts
Education
Books
Language Learning
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Free daily dose of word power from Merriam-Webster's experts

Read more

Free daily dose of word power from Merriam-Webster's experts

iTunes Ratings

738 Ratings
Average Ratings
518
99
46
29
46

Not overdone

By ElimiNathan - May 05 2020
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It gives a little bit of context and a word that tends not to be over used.

WoTD

By LRJalarned - Apr 15 2020
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I look forward to listening to the word of the day.

iTunes Ratings

738 Ratings
Average Ratings
518
99
46
29
46

Not overdone

By ElimiNathan - May 05 2020
Read more
It gives a little bit of context and a word that tends not to be over used.

WoTD

By LRJalarned - Apr 15 2020
Read more
I look forward to listening to the word of the day.
Cover image of Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Latest release on Jun 05, 2020

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Free daily dose of word power from Merriam-Webster's experts

Rank #1: longueur

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 27, 2020 is:

longueur • \lawn-GUR\  • noun

: a dull and tedious passage or section (as of a book, play, or musical composition) — usually used in plural

Examples:

The otherwise crisp pacing of the movie is marred by some unnecessary longueurs that do little to advance the main story.

"Small, clever musicals are fragile things, though, and I don't want to oversell this one in praising it. 'Scotland, PA' still needs to cure a few structural hiccups (the first act seems to end twice) and to address its longueurs and lapses of logic." — Jesse Green, The New York Times, 23 Oct. 2019

Did you know?

You've probably come across long, tedious sections of books, plays, or musical works before, but perhaps you didn't know there was a word for them. English speakers began using the French borrowing longueur in the late 18th century. As in English, French longueurs are tedious passages, with longueur itself literally meaning "length." An early example of longueur used in an English text is from 18th-century writer Horace Walpole, who wrote in a letter, "Boswell's book is gossiping; . . . but there are woful longueurs, both about his hero and himself."

May 27 2020

1min

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rendition

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 5, 2020 is:

rendition • \ren-DISH-un\  • noun

: the act or result of rendering something: such as

a : a performance or interpretation of something

b : depiction

c : translation

d : surrender; specifically, US law : the surrender by a state of a fugitive to another state charging the fugitive with a crime : interstate extradition

Examples:

"Still, Cosme is bound to offer the 'hood plenty of surprises, including a mescal-spiked, cactus-studded rendition of Manhattan clam chowder." — Jeff Gordinier, The New York Times, 2 Sept. 2014

"The best part is the vast majority of adults will love [Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse]. Most know who Spider-Man is. We've seen many different renditions of this superhero." — Andrew McManus, The Portsmouth (Ohio) Daily Times, 27 Apr. 2020

Did you know?

Rendition entered English in the early 17th century and can be traced to the Middle French word reddition and ultimately to the Latin verb reddere, meaning "to return." The English verb render is another descendant of reddere, so perhaps it is no surprise that rendition fundamentally means "the act or result of rendering." English speakers also once adopted reddition itself (meaning either "restitution, surrender" or "elucidation"), but that word has mostly dropped out of use. Incidentally, if you've guessed that surrender is also from the same word family, you may be right; surrender derives in part from the Anglo-French rendre, which likely influenced the alteration of reddition to rendition.

Jun 05 2020

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posture

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 4, 2020 is:

posture • \PAHSS-cher\  • verb

1 : to cause to assume a given posture : pose

2 : to assume a posture; especially : to strike a pose for effect

3 : to assume an artificial or pretended attitude : attitudinize

Examples:

"During the rut, grabbing a bite to eat was an afterthought for bucks, but right now and in the weeks to come, choosing a prime food source is key to their survival. Sure … bucks are still banging antlers and posturing to prove who's boss. But this is all happening at, or around, the best food sources in the area." — Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, 6 Jan. 2020

"It's also been assumed that a rift exists between Elway and Harris, but according to the player, that couldn't be further from the truth, despite the two being postured as adversaries over contracts and money." — Chad Jensen, Sports Illustrated, 11 Jan. 2020

Did you know?

The Latin verb ponere, meaning "to put" or "to place," had a role in putting quite a few English terms into place, including component, dispose, expose, impose, oppose, posit, position, positive, postpone, and, yes, posture. The past participle of ponerepositus—gave Latin the noun positura, which has the same meaning as the English noun posture. Positura passed through Italian and Middle French and was finally adopted by English speakers as posture in the late 16th century. The verb posture later developed from the noun, finding its place in English at around the midpoint of the 17th century.

Jun 04 2020

1min

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compunction

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 3, 2020 is:

compunction • \kum-PUNK-shun\  • noun

1 a : anxiety arising from awareness of guilt

b : distress of mind over an anticipated action or result

2 : a twinge of misgiving : scruple

Examples:

"A big reason why Illinois' population continues to plummet is that college-age youth feel no compunction at all about heading out of state for college." — editorial board, The Chicago Tribune, 22 Feb. 2020

"Roses can get old and sick, and there are better varieties to try. I have no compunction ripping out a rose that no longer works for me." — Adrian Higgins, The Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2020

Did you know?

An old proverb says "a guilty conscience needs no accuser," and it's true that the sting of a guilty conscience—or a conscience that is provoked by the contemplation of doing something wrong—can prick very hard indeed. The sudden guilty "prickings" of compunction are reflected in the word's etymological history. Compunction comes (via Anglo-French compunction and Middle English compunccioun) from Latin compungere, which means "to prick hard" or "to sting." Compungere, in turn, derives from pungere, meaning "to prick," which is the ancestor of some other prickly words in English, such as puncture and even point.

Jun 03 2020

1min

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eolian

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 2, 2020 is:

eolian • \ee-OH-lee-un\  • adjective

: borne, deposited, produced, or eroded by the wind

Examples:

The park is known for its eolian caves—chambers formed in sandstone cliffs by powerful winds.

"If an extremely tenuous atmosphere like that of Pluto can support the generation of bedforms from wind-driven sediment, what kind of eolian activity might we see on places like Io (a moon of Jupiter)…?" — Alexander Hayes, quoted in The Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2018

Did you know?

When Aeolus blew into town, things really got moving. He was the Greek god of the winds and the king of the floating island of Aeolia. In The Odyssey, Homer claims Aeolus helped Odysseus by giving him a favorable wind. Aeolus also gave English speakers a few terms based on his name, including the adjective eolian (also spelled aeolian), which is often used for wind-sculpted geological features such as caves and dunes, and aeolian harp, the name for an instrument that makes music when the wind blows across its strings.

Jun 02 2020

1min

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stiction

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 1, 2020 is:

stiction • \STIK-shun\  • noun

: the force required to cause one body in contact with another to begin to move

Examples:

"Stiction is stationary friction. Starting the bolt turning takes more force than keeping it turning. The tighter the bolt, the more stiction can affect torque readings." — Jim Kerr, SRTForums.com, 4 Mar. 2004

"The theme of blue continues on the fork stanchions. The upside-down fork itself is the same Showa unit seen on the standard bike, but in this case the inner tubes feature a special nitride coating to help reduce stiction and provide a smoother stroke." — Zaran Mody, ZigWheels.com, 14 Apr. 2020

Did you know?

Stiction has been a part of the English language since at least 1946, when it appeared in a journal of aeronautics. While stiction refers to the force needed to get an object to move from a position at rest, it is not related to the verb stick. The word is a blend word formed from the st- of static ("of or relating to bodies at rest") and the -iction of friction ("the force that resists relative motion between two bodies in contact"). So, basically, it means "static friction" (or to put it another way, "stationary friction").

Jun 01 2020

1min

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palmy

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 31, 2020 is:

palmy • \PAH-mee\  • adjective

1 : marked by prosperity : flourishing

2 : abounding in or bearing palms

Examples:

"The new breed of the Silicon Valley lived for work. They were disciplined to the point of back spasms. They worked long hours and kept working on weekends. They became absorbed in their companies the way men once had in the palmy days of the automobile industry." — Tom Wolfe, Hooking Up, 2000

"In Beaufort Road was a house, occupied in its palmier days, by Mr Shorthouse, a manufacturer of acids...." — J.R.R. Tolkien, letter, July 1964

Did you know?

The palm branch has traditionally been used as a symbol of victory. It is no wonder then that the word palm came to mean "victory" or "triumph" in the late 14th century, thanks to the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer. Centuries later, William Shakespeare would employ palmy as a synonym for triumphant or flourishing in the tragedy Hamlet when the character Horatio speaks of the "palmy state of Rome / A little ere the mightiest Julius fell."

May 31 2020

1min

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gamut

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 30, 2020 is:

gamut • \GAM-ut\  • noun

1 : the whole series of recognized musical notes

2 : an entire range or series

Examples:

"Possibly the most interesting man-made structural material is reinforced concrete…. It is economical, available almost everywhere, fire-resistant, and can be designed to be light-weight to reduce the dead load or to have a whole gamut of strengths to satisfy structural needs." — Mario Salvadori, Why Buildings Stand Up, 1990

"[Beverly] Long, whose previous novels run a limited gamut from romance to paranormal romance to romantic suspense, scores well in her transition to hard-boiled thriller." — Jay Strafford, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Virginia), 21 Mar. 2020

Did you know?

To get the lowdown on gamut, we have to dive to the bottom of a musical scale to which the 11th-century musician and monk Guido of Arezzo applied his particular system of solmization—that is, of using syllables to denote the tones of a musical scale. Guido called the first line of his bass staff gamma and the first note in his scale ut, which meant that gamma ut was the term for a note written on the first staff line. In time, gamma ut underwent a shortening to gamut but climbed the scale of meaning. It expanded to cover all the notes of Guido's scale, then to cover all the notes in the range of an instrument, and, eventually, to cover an entire range of any sort.

May 30 2020

1min

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assail

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 29, 2020 is:

assail • \uh-SAIL\  • verb

1 : to attack violently : assault

2 : to encounter, undertake, or confront energetically

3 : to oppose, challenge, or criticize harshly and forcefully

4 a : to trouble or afflict in a manner that threatens to overwhelm

b : to be perceived by (a person, a person's senses, etc.) in a strongly noticeable and usually unpleasant way

Examples:

Most worthwhile achievements require that one persevere even when assailed by doubts.

"What does it even mean to be good in a world as complex as ours, when great inequity remains unaddressed and often seems too daunting to assail, and when seemingly benign choices—which shoes to buy, which fruit to eat—can come with the moral baggage of large carbon footprints or the undercompensated labor of migrant workers?" — Nancy Kaffer, The Detroit (Michigan) Free Press, 9 Jan. 2020

Did you know?

Assail comes from an Anglo-French verb, assaillir, which itself traces back to the Latin verb assilire ("to leap upon"). Assilire combines the prefix ad- ("to, toward") with the Latin verb salire, meaning "to leap." (Salire is the root of a number of English words related to jumping or leaping, such as somersault and sally, as well as assault, a synonym of assail.) When assail was first used in the 13th century, it meant "to make a violent physical attack upon." By the early 15th century, English speakers were using the term to mean "to attack with words or arguments." Now the verb can refer to any kind of aggressive encounter, even if it is not necessarily violent or quarrelsome, as in "Upon entering the room, we were assailed by a horrible odor."

May 29 2020

1min

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empirical

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 28, 2020 is:

empirical • \im-PEER-uh-kul\  • adjective

1 : originating in or based on observation or experience

2 : relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory 

3 : capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment 

4 : of or relating to empiricism

Examples:

"'We have really good empirical research dating back to the 1980s demonstrating that kids who are restricted around treat foods often just want to eat them more,' said Charlotte Markey, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Rutgers University…." — Virginia Sole-Smith, The New York Times, 17 Apr. 2020

"Burger King's advertising has been telling us that the Impossible Whopper tastes just like a Whopper. And so, in the spirit of empirical science and discovery, I ventured to a Burger King this week to test the claim." — Eric Felten, The Examiner (Washington, DC), 31 Oct. 2019

Did you know?

When empirical first appeared as an adjective in English, it meant simply "in the manner of an empiric." An empiric was a member of an ancient sect of doctors who practiced medicine based exclusively on observation or experience as contrasted with those who relied on theory or philosophy. The name empiric derives from Latin empīricus, itself from Greek empeirikós, meaning "based on observation (of medical treatment), experienced." The root of the Greek word (-peiros) is a derivative of peîra, meaning "attempt, trial, test."

May 28 2020

1min

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longueur

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 27, 2020 is:

longueur • \lawn-GUR\  • noun

: a dull and tedious passage or section (as of a book, play, or musical composition) — usually used in plural

Examples:

The otherwise crisp pacing of the movie is marred by some unnecessary longueurs that do little to advance the main story.

"Small, clever musicals are fragile things, though, and I don't want to oversell this one in praising it. 'Scotland, PA' still needs to cure a few structural hiccups (the first act seems to end twice) and to address its longueurs and lapses of logic." — Jesse Green, The New York Times, 23 Oct. 2019

Did you know?

You've probably come across long, tedious sections of books, plays, or musical works before, but perhaps you didn't know there was a word for them. English speakers began using the French borrowing longueur in the late 18th century. As in English, French longueurs are tedious passages, with longueur itself literally meaning "length." An early example of longueur used in an English text is from 18th-century writer Horace Walpole, who wrote in a letter, "Boswell's book is gossiping; . . . but there are woful longueurs, both about his hero and himself."

May 27 2020

1min

Play

iTunes Ratings

738 Ratings
Average Ratings
518
99
46
29
46

Not overdone

By ElimiNathan - May 05 2020
Read more
It gives a little bit of context and a word that tends not to be over used.

WoTD

By LRJalarned - Apr 15 2020
Read more
I look forward to listening to the word of the day.