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.

caterwaul Oct. 30, 2018

* Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 30, 2018 is: * caterwaul • \KAT-er-wawl\ • verb 1 : to make a harsh cry 2 : to protest or complain noisily Examples: The woods were quiet until the sound of a chainsaw caterwauling in the distance broke the calm. "Between begging calls, the young birds made more practice launches, flapping their wings and jumping. Paired adults were re-forming their relationships; returning birds went in for bouts of head flicking and kissing. Neighbors were in dispute, caterwauling above the din." — Tim Dee, The New York Review of Books , 11 ...

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Tags: language courses, arts, literature, education

Older Episodes

shambles Oct. 29, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 29, 2018 is: ** **shambles** • \SHAM-bulz\ • _noun_ **1 :** [slaughterhouse](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/slaughterhouse) **2 a :** a place of mass slaughter or bloodshed **b :** a scene or a state of great destruction : [wreckage](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wreckage) **c :** a scene or a state ...
multitudinous Oct. 28, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 28, 2018 is: ** **multitudinous** • \mul-tuh-TOO-duh-nus\ • _adjective_ **1 :** including a [multitude](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/multitude) of individuals **:** [populous](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/populous) **2 :** existing in a great multitude **3 :** existing in or consisting of innumerable elements or aspects **Examples:** The author's appearance is ...
pamphleteer Oct. 27, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 27, 2018 is: ** **pamphleteer** • \pam-fluh-TEER\ • _verb_ **1 :** to write and publish [pamphlets](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/pamphlets) **2 :** to engage in partisan arguments indirectly in writings **Examples:** Though he is remembered today for his novels and essays, George Orwell was also ...
holy writ Oct. 26, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 26, 2018 is: ** **holy writ** • \HOH-lee-RIT\ • _noun_ **1** _often capitalized_ **Holy Writ :** [Bible](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/bible) **2 :** a writing or utterance having unquestionable authority **Examples:** "But just because these people claim to be experts doesn't mean their every utterance ...
fugacious Oct. 25, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 25, 2018 is: ** **fugacious** • \fyoo-GAY-shus\ • _adjective_ **:** lasting a short time **:** [evanescent](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/evanescent) **Examples:** The rock band's rise in popularity turned out to be _fugacious_ , and within two years its members had moved on to other careers. ...
indoctrinate Oct. 24, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 24, 2018 is: ** **indoctrinate** • \in-DAHK-truh-nayt\ • _verb_ **1 :** to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments **:** [teach](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/teach) **2 :** to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle **Examples:** "Clearly, [in the television series ...
mawkish Oct. 23, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 23, 2018 is: ** **mawkish** • \MAW-kish\ • _adjective_ **1 :** lacking flavor or having an unpleasant taste **2 :** exaggeratedly or childishly emotional **Examples:** "Naomi Watts gives a committed, grounded performance as a single mother who finds herself surprisingly agreeable to ...
brouhaha Oct. 22, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 22, 2018 is: ** **brouhaha** • \BROO-hah-hah\ • _noun_ **:** a state of commotion or excitement **:** [hubbub](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/hubbub), [uproar](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/uproar) **Examples:** There was much _brouhaha_ in the tabloids over the young actor's sudden marriage to the woman who had been his ...
rebuff Oct. 21, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 21, 2018 is: ** **rebuff** • \rih-BUFF\ • _verb_ **:** to reject or criticize sharply **:** [snub](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/snub#h1) **Examples:** "The wait at [Sushi Sho in the Ritz-Carlton] is worth it for a chance to dine with the chef most famously known for ...
tergiversation Oct. 15, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 15, 2018 is: ** **tergiversation** • \ter-jiv-er-SAY-shun\ • _noun_ **1 :** evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement **:** [equivocation](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equivocation) **2 :** desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith **Examples:** "Two chapters stand out. One covers the grinding combat in southern ...
crapulous Oct. 14, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 14, 2018 is: ** **crapulous** • \KRAP-yuh-lus\ • _adjective_ **1 :** marked by [intemperance](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/intemperance) especially in eating or drinking **2 :** sick from excessive indulgence in liquor **Examples:** "Helena she was called. She was Czech. I, on the other hand, was ...
quip Oct. 13, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 13, 2018 is: ** **quip** • \KWIP\ • _noun_ **1 a :** a clever usually taunting remark **:** [gibe](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/gibe) **b :** a witty or funny observation or response usually made on the spur of the moment **2 :** [quibble](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quibble#h2), [equivocation](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equivocation) **3 ...
emblazon Oct. 12, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 12, 2018 is: ** **emblazon** • \im-BLAY-zun\ • _verb_ **1 a :** to inscribe or adorn with or as if with heraldic [bearings](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bearing) or devices **b :** to inscribe (something, such as heraldic bearings) on a surface **2 :** [celebrate](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/celebrate), [extol](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extol) **Examples:** ...
by and large Oct. 11, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 11, 2018 is: ** **by and large** • \BYE-und-LAHRJ\ • _adverb_ **:** on the whole **:** in general **Examples:** "Studies have shown that, _by and large_ , when hospitals lose financial resources, they make cuts that could harm some patients." — Austin ...
Luddite Oct. 10, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 10, 2018 is: ** **Luddite** • \LUH-dyte\ • _noun_ **:** one of a group of early 19th-century English workmen destroying laborsaving machinery as a protest; _broadly_ **:** one who is opposed to especially technological change **Examples:** Responding to an interview question in ...
ambivalent Oct. 9, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 9, 2018 is: ** **ambivalent** • \am-BIV-uh-lunt\ • _adjective_ **:** having or showing simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings toward something **:** characterized by [ambivalence](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/ambivalence) **Examples:** Bianca was _ambivalent_ about starting her first year away at college—excited for the new opportunities ...
Occident Oct. 8, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 8, 2018 is: ** **Occident** • \AHK-suh-dunt\ • _noun_ **:** regions or countries lying to the west of a specified or implied point of orientation **Examples:** "… [We] begin in Jerusalem and skip to Istanbul, from where the Orient Express sets off ...
scintillate Oct. 7, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 7, 2018 is: ** **scintillate** • \SIN-tuh-layt\ • _verb_ **1 :** to emit sparks **:** [spark](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/spark#h2) **2 :** to emit quick flashes as if throwing off sparks **:** [sparkle](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sparkle) **3 :** to throw off as a spark or as sparkling flashes ...
gloaming Oct. 6, 2018
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 6, 2018 is: ** **gloaming** • \GLOH-ming\ • _noun_ **:** [twilight](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/twilight), [dusk](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dusk#h3) **Examples:** "It was in the _gloaming_ at Duke University in late fall of 1966. There was a wet chill in the air, most of the trees were leafless, and a ...