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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Updated about 1 month ago

Rank #15 in Literature category

Arts
Education
Literature
Language Courses
Read more

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

Read more

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

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470 Ratings
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Peer etym

By Larry in Contra Costa County - May 22 2019
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Peer, Par: same Latin root.

Why I can’t see the album figure?

By kaiyuyue - Aug 19 2018
Read more
The album figure may be have a problem of showing on iPhone. Will it be fixed ?

iTunes Ratings

470 Ratings
Average Ratings
324
67
35
20
24

Peer etym

By Larry in Contra Costa County - May 22 2019
Read more
Peer, Par: same Latin root.

Why I can’t see the album figure?

By kaiyuyue - Aug 19 2018
Read more
The album figure may be have a problem of showing on iPhone. Will it be fixed ?
Cover image of Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Updated about 1 month ago

Rank #15 in Literature category

Read more

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

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Rank #1: cogent

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 20, 2019 is:

cogent • \KOH-junt\  • adjective

1 a : appealing forcibly to the mind or reason : convincing

b : pertinent, relevant

2 : having power to compel or constrain

Examples:

At the town meeting, citizens presented many cogent arguments in support of building a new senior center.

"The council made the difficult decision to raise property taxes by a total of 6 cents…. [The] decision to earmark the full 4 cents for educational capital expenditures was a difficult one, and there were cogent, logical arguments to be made in favor of keeping the city's options open regarding the use of funds." — Kate McConnell and Anthony Smith, The Roanoke (Virginia) Times, 21 Apr. 2019

Did you know?

"Trained, knowledgeable agents make cogent suggestions ... that make sense to customers." It makes sense for us to include that comment from the president of a direct marketing consulting company because it provides such a nice opportunity to point out the etymological relationship between the words cogent and agent. Agent derives from the Latin verb agere, which means "to drive," "to lead," or "to act." Adding the prefix co- to agere gave Latin cogere, a word that literally means "to drive together"; that ancient term ultimately gave English cogent. Something that is cogent figuratively pulls together thoughts and ideas, and the cogency of an argument depends on the driving intellectual force behind it.

Jul 20 2019
1 min
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Rank #2: gnomic

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 19, 2019 is:

gnomic • \NOH-mik\  • adjective

1 : characterized by aphorism

2 : given to the composition of aphoristic writing

Examples:

"That narrative power is real, as in the case of Shireen, but it came not from having a story but from telling it and persuading others of its truth. And we didn't see a trace of that in Bran's ascension. He generally fails to speak in anything other than fractured, gnomic phrases. He doesn't tend to connect." — Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 21 May 2019

"Mr. Marshall … was known for challenging established ways of thinking and for acquiring a reputation as the Pentagon's 'Yoda,' after the wise, gnomic Jedi master of 'Star Wars.'" — Matt Schudel, The Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2019

Did you know?

A gnome is an aphorism—that is, an observation or sentiment reduced to the form of a saying. Gnomes are sometimes couched in metaphorical or figurative language, they are often quite clever, and they are always concise. We borrowed the word gnome in the 16th century from the Greeks, who based their gnome on the verb gignōskein, meaning "to know." (The other gnome—referring to the dwarf of folklore—comes from New Latin and is unrelated to the aphoristic gnome.) We began using gnomic, the adjective form of gnome, in the late 18th century. It describes a style of writing, or sometimes speech, characterized by pithy phrases, which are often terse to the point of mysteriousness.

Jul 19 2019
2 mins
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Rank #3: speculate

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 18, 2019 is:

speculate • \SPEK-yuh-layt\  • verb

1 a : to meditate on or ponder a subject : reflect

b : to review something idly or casually and often inconclusively

2 : to assume a business risk in hope of gain; especially : to buy or sell in expectation of profiting from market fluctuations

3 : to take to be true on the basis of insufficient evidence : theorize

4 : to be curious or doubtful about : wonder

Examples:

"Both celebrities have been tweeting each other for a while now, leading fans to speculate about their relationship status." — Suzette Fernandez, Billboard.com, 5 June 2019

"Live footage showed that two hundred firefighters were attempting to tame the flames. Meanwhile talking heads droned on and on, speculating about the source of the spark that destroyed the cathedral's wooden roof and nave or how many billions it would cost to rebuild." — Christopher Schaefer, Commonweal, 17 May 2019

Did you know?

Speculate was adopted into English in the late 16th century from Latin speculatus, the past participle of the verb speculari, which means "to spy out" or "to examine." Speculari, in turn, derives from specula, meaning "lookout post," and ultimately from the Latin verb specere, meaning "to look (at)." Other conspicuous descendants of specere are inspect and suspect. Some less obvious descendants are the words despise, species, specimen, and as you may have speculated, conspicuous.

Jul 18 2019
2 mins
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Rank #4: provender

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 17, 2019 is:

provender • \PRAH-vun-der\  • noun

1 : dry food for domestic animals : feed

2 : food, victuals

Examples:

The restaurant's chef-owner prides himself on creating dishes from local provender.

"While these fish with their underslung mouths will eat insects, crayfish, mollusks, and other provender, a garden worm or piece of nightcrawler on the hook will work just fine." — Christopher Balusik, The Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal, 30 Mar. 2019

Did you know?

When English speakers first chewed on the word provender around 1300, it referred to a stipend (also known as a prebend) that a clergyman received from his cathedral or collegiate church. Within a half a century, the word's current meanings had developed. These days you're most likely to encounter provender in articles written by food and travel writers. A few such writers confuse provender with purveyor, meaning "a person or business that sells or provides something," but most of them keep the words straight, as Deidre Schipani does in this quote from the Post and Courier, of Charleston, South Carolina: "The kitchen remains true to its local roots. Buying from island farmers, fisherman, shrimpers, butchers and small local artisans keeps the provender and purveyors in alignment."

Jul 17 2019
1 min
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Rank #5: auxiliary

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 16, 2019 is:

auxiliary • \awg-ZILL-yuh-ree\  • adjective

1 a : offering or providing help

b : functioning in a subsidiary capacity

2 of a verb : accompanying another verb and typically expressing person, number, mood, or tense

3 a : supplementary

b : constituting a reserve

4 of a boat : equipped with sails and a supplementary inboard engine

Examples:

"And meantime I had an auxiliary interest which had never paled yet, never lost its novelty for me since I had been in Arthur's kingdom: the behavior—born of nice and exact subdivisions of caste—of chance passers-by toward each other." — Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, 1889

"Graduating from big-name schools translates into better jobs and higher salaries, according to conventional wisdom. Plus, there are the auxiliary benefits that also lead to cash—powerful alumni networks, name recognition that attracts the interest of hiring managers and the right collegiate brand to catapult graduating seniors to top-notch graduate schools, which are themselves tickets to more money." — Zlati Meyer, USA Today, 18 March 2019

Did you know?

Auxiliary is used in a wide range of capacities in English to describe a person or thing that assists another. A fire department may bring in auxiliary units, for example, to battle a tough blaze, or a sailboat may be equipped with auxiliary engines to supply propulsion when the wind disappears. In grammar, an auxiliary verb assists another (main) verb to express person, number, mood, or tense, such as have in "They have been informed." The Latin source of auxiliary is auxilium, meaning "help."

Jul 16 2019
2 mins
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Rank #6: nosegay

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 15, 2019 is:

nosegay • \NOHZ-gay\  • noun

: a small bunch of flowers : posy

Examples:

"On arrival, the Queen was presented with her traditional nosegay of fresh spring flowers…." — Robert Hardman, The Daily Mail (London), 19 Apr. 2019

"Many of the boys also were ordering nosegays or wrist corsages for their dates. 'I just had a group of three boys coming in with pictures on their phones of the girls' dresses,' [Megan] Mitchell said several days before the prom. The boys want the flowers to match the color of the dresses." — Kimberly Fornek, The Chicago Tribune, 6 May 2019

Did you know?

Nosegay is a homegrown word—that is, it originated in English. 15th-century Middle English speakers joined nose (which meant then what it does today) with gay (which, at the time, meant "ornament"). That makes nosegay an appropriate term for a bunch of flowers, which is indeed an ornament that appeals to the nose. Today, the word nosegay is especially common in the bridal business, where it usually refers to a specific type of bouquet: a round, tight bunch of flowers as opposed to a cascading bouquet or other type of arrangement. Occasionally, the word is used metaphorically for things that somehow resemble a bouquet. For example, a compact collection of enjoyably lighthearted short stories might be called "a nosegay of a book."

Jul 15 2019
1 min
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Rank #7: embezzle

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 14, 2019 is:

embezzle • \im-BEZZ-ul\  • verb

: to appropriate (something, such as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use

Examples:

The company's senior accounts manager embezzled thousands of dollars from her employer by way of a loophole in the accounting procedures.

"A 43-year-old Houston man has been sentenced to six years in federal prison after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $3.4 million from a Dallas-based design and construction company." — The Associated Press, 21 May 2018

Did you know?

English has a lot of verbs that mean "to steal," including pilfer, rob, swipe, plunder, filch, and thieve. Embezzle differs from these by stressing the improper appropriation of property to which a person is entrusted—often in the form of company funds. First appearing in English in the 15th century, embezzle derives via Middle English from the Anglo-French embesiller, meaning "to make away," formed from the prefix en- and the verb besiller, meaning "to steal or plunder." Related to embezzle is bezzle, a verb used in some British English dialects to mean "to waste or plunder" or "to drink or eat to excess."

Jul 14 2019
1 min
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Rank #8: torrid

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 13, 2019 is:

torrid • \TOR-id\  • adjective

1 a : parched with heat especially of the sun : hot

b : giving off intense heat : scorching

2 : ardent, passionate

Examples:

"There are tales of torrid love affairs…." — Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, 31 May 2019

"Scotch is my daily drink of choice…. But when summer hits New York hard, I occasionally get something lighter and more refreshing to survive the increasingly torrid days." — Karla Alindahao, Forbes.com, 10 May 2015

Did you know?

Torrid derives from the Latin verb torrēre, which means "to burn" or "to parch" and is an ancestor of our word toast. Despite the dry implications of this root, it is also an ancestor of torrent, which can refer to a violent stream of liquid (as in "a torrent of rain"). Torrid first appeared in English in the 16th century, and was originally used to describe something burned or scorched by exposure to the sun. The term torrid zone later came about to refer to tropical regions of the Earth. Torrid has taken on several extended meanings that we would use for hot, including "showing fiery passion," as in "torrid love letters," or "displaying unusual luck or fortune," as in "a baseball player on a torrid hitting streak."

Jul 13 2019
2 mins
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Rank #9: dearth

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 12, 2019 is:

dearth • \DERTH\  • noun

1 : scarcity that makes dear; specifically : famine
2 : an inadequate supply : lack

Examples:

"In an age of extreme polarization and dearth of good will, music is a powerful force that brings people together…." — Aaron Davis, letter in Billboard.com, 26 Apr. 2019

"The dearth of taller trees to filter sunlight has also accelerated the growth of low-lying wax myrtles and palmettos…." — Elizabeth Koh, The Miami Herald, 5 June 2019

Did you know?

The facts about the history of the word dearth are quite simple: the word derives from the Middle English form derthe, which has the same meaning as our modern term. That Middle English form is assumed to have developed from an Old English form that was probably spelled dierth and was related to dēore, the Old English form that gave us the word dear. (Dear also once meant "scarce," but that sense of the word is now obsolete.) Dearth, in one form or another, has been used to describe things that are in short supply since at least the 13th century, when it often referred to a shortage of food.

Jul 12 2019
1 min
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Rank #10: ostentatious

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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 11, 2019 is:

ostentatious • \ah-stun-TAY-shus\  • adjective

: attracting or seeking to attract attention, admiration, or envy often by gaudiness or obviousness : overly elaborate or conspicuous : characterized by, fond of, or evincing ostentation

Examples:

Since striking it rich, Edwin has embraced a more ostentatious lifestyle, wearing expensive designer clothes, driving high-end sports cars, and frequenting the trendiest upscale nightclubs.

"The ostentatious chandeliers in the Crystal Room have been replaced with elegant-but-unassuming lighting." — Damon Cline, The Augusta Chronicle, 17 Apr. 2019

Did you know?

Showy, pretentious, and ostentatious all mean "given to outward display," but there are subtle differences in their meanings. Showy implies an imposing or striking appearance, but usually also implies cheapness or bad taste. Pretentious suggests an appearance of importance not justified by a thing's value or a person's standing. Ostentatious is the biggest show-off, stressing the vanity of the display. English speakers derived ostentatious from the noun ostentation, which can be traced back, via Middle French, to the Latin verb ostentare (meaning "to display"), a frequentative form of the verb ostendere, meaning "to show."

Jul 11 2019
2 mins
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