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.

whipsaw Dec. 26, 2019

* Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 26, 2019 is: * whipsaw • \WIP-saw\ • verb 1 : to saw with a whipsaw 2 : to beset or victimize in two opposite ways at once, by two-phase operation, or by the collusive action of two opponents Examples: The community has been growing steadily safer and more prosperous after years of being whipsawed by climbing crime rates and plunging employment. "In a study that is bound to be controversial—and confusing for consumers who feel whipsawed by conflicting nutrition advice—researchers from seven countries have reported finding few health benefits associated …

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Tags: language courses, arts, literature, education

Older Episodes

evergreen Dec. 25, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 25, 2019 is: ** **evergreen** • \EV-er-green\ • _adjective_ **1 :** having foliage that remains green and functional through more than one growing season **2 a :** retaining freshness or interest **:** [perennial](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perennial) **b :** universally and continually relevant **:** not limited …
luminaria Dec. 24, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 24, 2019 is: ** **luminaria** • \loo-muh-NAIR-ee-uh\ • _noun_ **:** a traditional Mexican Christmas lantern originally consisting of a candle set in sand inside a paper bag **Examples:** "Mount Vernon Avenue will be illuminated by thousands of _luminarias_ and feature storefront windows …
discriminate Dec. 23, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 23, 2019 is: ** **discriminate** • \diss-KRIM-uh-nayt\ • _verb_ **1 a :** to see the special features of **b :** to perceive a difference in **:** [differentiate](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/differentiate) **2 :** to distinguish by [discerning](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/discern) or exposing differences; _especially_ **:** to distinguish …
fulgent Dec. 22, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 22, 2019 is: ** **fulgent** • \FULL-jint\ • _adjective_ **:** dazzlingly bright **:** [radiant](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/radiant) **Examples:** "Reigning as queen of the ball was Miss Skylar Nicole Ballard…. Her majesty's regal ensemble included a gown of white silver lace, tulle and regency [organza](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/organza)…. …
kowtow Dec. 21, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 21, 2019 is: ** **kowtow** • \KOW-tow\ • _verb_ **1 :** to show [obsequious](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/obsequious) deference **:** [fawn](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/fawn) **2 :** to kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in token of homage, worship, or deep respect **Examples:** "[Cyndi] Lauper wanted …
xenophobia Dec. 20, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 20, 2019 is: ** **xenophobia** • \zen-uh-FOH-bee-uh\ • _noun_ **:** fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign **Examples:** "George Kennan, who served at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow…, wrote in 1947 that Soviet hostility …
haggard Dec. 19, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 19, 2019 is: ** **haggard** • \HAG-urd\ • _adjective_ **1** _of a hawk_ **:** not tamed **2 a :** wild in appearance **b :** having a worn or [emaciated](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/emaciate) appearance **:** [gaunt](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/gaunt) **Examples:** "When I met her at her subsidized …
aught Dec. 18, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 18, 2019 is: ** **aught** • \AWT\ • _pronoun_ **1 :** [anything](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anything) **2 :** [all](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/all#h3), [everything](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/everything) **Examples:** "Xury said it was a lion, and it might be so, for _aught_ I know...." — [Daniel Defoe, _Robinson Crusoe_ , 1719](https://books.google.com/books?id=Rj_QAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA26#v=onepage&q&f=false) "All the ways …
flibbertigibbet Dec. 17, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 17, 2019 is: ** **flibbertigibbet** • \flib-er-tee-JIB-ut\ • _noun_ **:** a silly [flighty](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flighty) person **Examples:** She plays a _flibbertigibbet_ in the movie—a character completely at odds with her real-life reputation as a prolific writer and masterful actor and director. "As played by …
reiterate Dec. 10, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 10, 2019 is: ** **reiterate** • \ree-IT-uh-rayt\ • _verb_ **:** to state or do over again or repeatedly sometimes with wearying effect **Examples:** "Flanery _reiterated_ that the new hotel, HRM facility and expanded seating will not require Churchill Downs to expand outside …
oxymoron Dec. 9, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 9, 2019 is: ** **oxymoron** • \ahk-sih-MOR-ahn\ • _noun_ **:** a combination of [contradictory](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/contradictory#h1) or incongruous words (such as _cruel kindness_ ); _broadly_ **:** something (such as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements **Examples:** "Truly antisocial …
circumscribe Dec. 8, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 8, 2019 is: ** **circumscribe** • \SER-kum-skrybe\ • _verb_ **1 a :** to constrict the range or activity of definitely and clearly **b :** to define or mark off carefully **2 a :** to draw a line around **b :** to surround …
vexillology Dec. 7, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 7, 2019 is: ** **vexillology** • \vek-suh-LAH-luh-jee\ • _noun_ **:** the study of flags **Examples:** "I was recently watching a rerun episode of The Big Bang Theory that featured one of the main characters. Sheldon Cooper was videoing a new episode of …
gingerly Dec. 6, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 6, 2019 is: ** **gingerly** • \JIN-jer-lee\ • _adjective_ **:** very cautious or careful **Examples:** "The reality: I am averse to wet clothes, squishy shoes and algae in my hair, so I cautiously stepped into a kayak, trying my darndest not to …
acquiesce Dec. 5, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 5, 2019 is: ** **acquiesce** • \ak-wee-ESS\ • _verb_ **:** to accept, comply, or submit [tacitly](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/tacitly) or passively —often used with _in_ or _to_ **Examples:** Eventually, the professor _acquiesced_ to the students' request to have the seminar's final class be a …
coup de grâce Dec. 4, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 4, 2019 is: ** **coup de grâce** • \koo-duh-GRAHSS\ • _noun_ **1 :** a deathblow or death shot administered to end the suffering of one mortally wounded **2 :** a decisive finishing blow, act, or event **Examples:** "Quarterback Jake Luton completed 18 …
ersatz Dec. 3, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 3, 2019 is: ** **ersatz** • \AIR-sahts\ • _adjective_ **:** being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation **Examples:** "If you want to keep your drinks cold without constantly running to the ice machine, using the laundry bag as an _ersatz_ …
bon vivant Dec. 2, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 2, 2019 is: ** **bon vivant** • \bahn-vee-VAHNT\ • _noun_ **:** a sociable person who has cultivated and refined tastes especially with respect to food and drink **Examples:** "The Major was somewhat of a _bon vivant_ , and his wine was excellent." …
pointillistic Dec. 1, 2019
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 1, 2019 is: ** **pointillistic** • \poyn-tuh-LISS-tik\ • _adjective_ **1 :** composed of many discrete details or parts **2 :** of, relating to, or characteristic of [pointillism](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pointillism) or pointillists **Examples:** "[Herman] Wouk is often grouped with middlebrow writers of popular historical fiction …