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Preview: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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

Last Build Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Copyright: Copyright 2017


Sun, 23 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 23, 2017 is:

advise • \ud-VYZE\  • verb

1 a : to give a recommendation about what should be done : to give advice to

b : caution, warn

c : recommend

2 : to give information or notice to : inform

3 : to talk with someone in order to decide what should be done : consult


Betty's doctor advised her to exercise more carefully if she hoped to avoid re-injuring her sprained ankle.

"Many travelers underestimate the costs of meals, snacks and tips, says guidebook author James Kaiser. He advises bringing your own food or buying it at a store when you arrive at your destination to save money." — Devon Delfino, The Cherokee County (Kansas) News-Advocate, 23 May 2017

Did you know?

Today's word was borrowed into Middle English in the 14th century as avise (spelling variants with the d found in the Modern English advise began showing up in the 15th century). The word is derived from the Anglo-French aviser, itself from avis, meaning "opinion." That avis is not to be confused with the Latin word avis, meaning "bird" (an ancestor of such English words as avian and aviation). Instead, it results from the Old French phrase ce m'est a vis ("that appears to me"), a partial translation of Latin mihi visum est, "it seemed so to me" or "I decided." We advise you to remember that the verb advise is spelled with an s, whereas the related noun advice includes a stealthy c.

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Sat, 22 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 22, 2017 is:

tare • \TAIR\  • noun

1 : a deduction from the gross weight of a substance and its container made in allowance for the weight of the container; also : the weight of the container

2 : counterweight


Factoring in a tare of 10,000 pounds for the trailer, the transportation officer determined that the truck's cargo load still exceeded the legal limit.

"I hooked my scale to the net, grabbing a tare weight that required me to double-check: '12 lb 3 oz' read the digital display. Subtracting the '1 lb 15 oz' reading of my net by itself, my eyes widened at the realization that this 10.25-pound fish was my heaviest to-date." — Luke Ovgard, The Herald & News (Klamath Falls, Oregon), 19 May 2017

Did you know?

Tare came to English by way of Middle French from the Old Italian term tara, which is itself from the Arabic word ṭarḥa, meaning "that which is removed." One of the first known written records of the word tare in English is found in the naval inventories of Britain's King Henry VII. The record shows two barrels of gunpowder weighing, "besides the tare," 500 pounds. When used of vehicles, tare weight refers to a vehicle's weight exclusive of any load. The term tare is closely tied to net weight, which is defined as "weight excluding all tare."

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Fri, 21 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 21, 2017 is:

gauche • \GOHSH\  • adjective

1 : lacking social experience or grace; also : not tactful : crude

2 : crudely made or done


"We were described by our parents as classless and free, but instructed that chewing gum was gauche." — Kira von Eichel-Butler, Vogue, October 2016

"The second thing I did was request soy sauce, which wasn't on the table. The waiter managed to remain calm and respectful while dryly informing me that all necessary condiments are already infused into the dishes in the appropriate combinations. My request had apparently been quite gauche…." — Gene Weingarten, The Key West (Florida) Citizen, 21 May 2017

Did you know?

Gauche is one of several words that come from old suspicions or negative associations surrounding the left side and use of the left hand. In French, gauche literally means "left," and it has the extended meanings "awkward" and "clumsy." These meanings may have come about because left-handed people could appear awkward trying to manage in a right-handed world, or perhaps they came about because right-handed people appear awkward when they try to use their left hand. In fact, awkward comes from the Middle English awke, meaning "turned the wrong way" or "left-handed." On the other hand, adroit and dexterity have their roots in words meaning "right" or "on the right side."

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Thu, 20 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 20, 2017 is:

crucible • \KROO-suh-bul\  • noun

1 : a vessel in which metals or other substances are heated to a very high temperature or melted

2 : a severe test

3 : a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development


Living in the crucible that was Paris in the spring of 1968, Remi got to witness firsthand the angry confrontations between workers, students, and government.

"They each also possess, in their own way, a startling self-awareness and self-possession forged by the crucibles they and their families endured." — John Nagy, The Pilot (Southern Pines, North Carolina), 6 May 2017

Did you know?

Crucible looks like it should be closely related to the Latin combining form cruc- ("cross"), but it isn't. It was forged from the Medieval Latin crucibulum, a noun for an earthen pot used to melt metals, and in English it first referred to a vessel made of a very heat-resistant material (such as porcelain) used for melting a substance that requires a high degree of heat. But the resemblance between cruc- and crucible probably encouraged people to start using crucible to mean "a severe trial." That sense is synonymous with one meaning of cross, a word that is related to cruc-. The newest sense of crucible ("a situation in which great changes take place"—as in "forged in the crucible of war") recalls the fire and heat that would be encountered in the original heat-resistant pot.

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Wed, 19 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 19, 2017 is:

edacious • \ih-DAY-shus\  • adjective

1 : having a huge appetite : ravenous

2 : excessively eager : insatiable


Living with three edacious teenagers, Marilyn and Roger were dismayed by how much they had to spend on groceries week after week.

"... Stone's narrative prowess had been such as to infect me ... with his Weltschmerz. In fairness, Stone alone was not to blame. For too many years my edacious reading habits had been leading me into one unappealing corner after another...." — Tom Robbins, Harper's, September 2004

Did you know?

Tempus edax rerum. That wise Latin line by the Roman poet Ovid translates as "Time, the devourer of all things." Ovid's correlation between rapaciousness and time is appropriate to a discussion of edacious. That English word is a descendant of Latin edax, which is a derivative of the verb edere, meaning "to eat." In its earliest known English uses, edacious meant "of or relating to eating." It later came to be used generally as a synonym of voracious, and it has often been used specifically in contexts referring to time. That's how Scottish essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle used it when he referred to events "swallowed in the depths of edacious Time."

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Tue, 18 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 18, 2017 is:

vindicate • \VIN-duh-kayt\  • verb

1 : avenge

2 a : to free from allegation or blame

b : confirm, substantiate 

c : to provide justification or defense for : justify

d : to protect from attack or encroachment : defend

3 : to maintain a right to


The defendant's lawyer feels his client will be completely vindicated by the witness' testimonies.

"For us comic book fans back in that dark age of aesthetic awareness, the 'Batman' show meant significantly more. Its unexpected popularity briefly vindicated our obsession with what was considered inappropriate reading for anybody over the age of 9 (I was 11 when it hit the air)." — Bob Strauss, The Daily News of Los Angeles, 11 June 2017

Did you know?

It's not surprising that the two earliest senses of vindicate are "to set free" (a sense that is now obsolete) and "to avenge." Vindicate, which has been used in English since at least the mid-16th century, derives from Latin vindicatus, the past participle of the verb vindicare, meaning "to set free, avenge, or lay claim to." Vindicare, in turn, derives from vindex, a noun meaning "claimant" or "avenger." Other descendants of vindicare in English include such vengeful words as avenge itself, revenge, vengeance, vendetta, and vindictive. Closer cousins of vindicate are vindicable ("capable of being vindicated") and the archaic word vindicative ("punitive").

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Mon, 17 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 17, 2017 is:

steadfast • \STED-fast\  • adjective

1 a : firmly fixed in place : immovable

b : not subject to change

2 : firm in belief, determination, or adherence : loyal


Maureen knew she could count on the steadfast support of her best friend even in the hardest of times.

"He advised the graduating class to approach each day with steadfast determination and grit and to remember to be humble and appreciative." — Austin Ramsey, The Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), 20 May 2017

Did you know?

Steadfast has held its ground in English for many centuries. Its Old English predecessor, stedefæst, combined stede (meaning "place" or "stead") and fæst (meaning "firmly fixed"). An Old English text of the late 10th century, called The Battle of Maldon, contains our earliest record of the word, which was first used in battle contexts to describe warriors who stood their ground. Soon, it was also being used with the broad meaning "immovable," and as early as the 13th century it was applied to those unswerving in loyalty, faith, or friendship. Centuries later, all of these meanings endure.

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Sun, 16 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 16, 2017 is:

yawp • \YAWP\  • verb

1 : to make a raucous noise : squawk

2 : clamor, complain


"They yawped and cheered when they heard honks from passing cars, including a Toledo police vehicle that briefly sounded its alarm." — Andrew Koenig, The Toledo (Ohio) Blade, 7 Aug. 2015

"It's a place where teenagers yawp and chuckle over mounds of fried rice in styrofoam containers; where a couple on a budget shares sips from a fountain soda and a foot-long sub." — Calum Marsh, The National Post (Ontario, Canada), 9 May 2017

Did you know?

Yawp first appeared sometime in the 15th century. This verb comes from Middle English yolpen, most likely itself derived from the past participle of yelpen, meaning "to boast, call out, or yelp." Interestingly, yawp retains much of the meaning of yelpen, in that it implies a type of complaining which often has a yelping or squawking quality. An element of foolishness, in addition to the noisiness, is often implied as well. Yawp can also be a noun meaning "a raucous noise" or "squawk." The noun yawp arrived on the scene more than 400 years after the verb. It was greatly popularized by "Song of Myself," a poem by Walt Whitman containing the line "I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world."

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Sat, 15 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 15, 2017 is:

copacetic • \koh-puh-SET-ik\  • adjective

: very satisfactory


"... if you're going to be traveling with us it just wouldn't look too copacetic for you to be carrying that ratty old bag." — Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy, 1999

"In terms of living standards we're now back to where we started which while not making us entirely copacetic is at least better than not having recovered as yet." — Tim Worstall, Forbes, 8 Aug. 2016

Did you know?

Theories about the origin of copacetic abound, but the facts about the word’s history are scant: it appears to have arisen in African-American slang in the southern U.S., possibly as early as the 1880s, with earliest known evidence of it in print dating only to 1919. Beyond that, we have only speculation. One theory is that the term is descended from Hebrew kol be sedher (or kol b’seder or chol b’seder), meaning “everything is in order.” That theory is problematic for a number of reasons, among them that in order for a Hebrew expression to have been adopted into English at that time it would have passed through Yiddish, and there is no evidence of the phrase in Yiddish dictionaries. Other theories trace copacetic to Creole coupèstique (“able to be coped with”), Italian cappo sotto (literally “head under,” figuratively “okay”), or Chinook jargon copacete (“everything’s all right”), but no evidence to substantiate any of these has been found. Another theory credits the coining of the word to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who used the word frequently and believed himself to be the coiner. Anecdotal recollections of the word’s use, however, predate his lifetime.

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Fri, 14 Jul 2017 01:00:01 -0400

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 14, 2017 is:

savant • \sa-VAHNT\  • noun

1 : a person of learning; especially : one with detailed knowledge in some specialized field (as of science or literature)

2 : a person affected with a mental disability (such as autism) who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field (such as mathematics or music); especially : autistic savant


"His conversation, I remember, was about the Bertillon system of measurements, and he expressed his enthusiastic admiration of the French savant." — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, 1893

"It's romantic to imagine that every artist is a brilliant lone wolf savant who sends his pages by carrier pigeon to an awestruck editor who sends them out into the world as is, but that's really not how it works…." — Dana Schwartz, The New York Observer, 1 May 2017

Did you know?

Savant comes from Latin sapere ("to be wise") by way of Middle French, where savant is the present participle of savoir, meaning "to know." Savant shares roots with the English words sapient ("possessing great wisdom") and sage ("having or showing wisdom through reflection and experience"). The term is sometimes used in common parlance to refer to a person who demonstrates extraordinary knowledge in a particular subject, or an extraordinary ability to perform a particular task (such as complex arithmetic), but who has much more limited capacities in other areas.

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