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.

aficionado Aug. 4, 2020

* Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 4, 2020 is: * aficionado • \uh-fish-ee-uh-NAH-doh\ • noun : a person who likes, knows about, and appreciates a usually fervently pursued interest or activity : devotee Examples: Mickey's brother, an aficionado of jazz, was a regular at the downtown clubs and often bought new records on the day they were released. "But assessing the investment value of a vintage watch or a vintage car—a popular pastime among aficionados —can be a tricky business. Supply, or lack of it, often dictates which models appreciate, and which lose value." — [Stephen Williams, …

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Tags: language courses, arts, literature, education

Older Episodes

risible Aug. 3, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 3, 2020 is: ** **risible** • \RIZZ-uh-bul\ • _adjective_ **1 a :** capable of laughing **b :** disposed to laugh **2 :** arousing or provoking laughter; _especially_ **:** [laughable](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/laughable) **3 :** associated with, relating to, or used in laughter **Examples:** "When they …
ombudsman Aug. 2, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 2, 2020 is: ** **ombudsman** • \AHM-boodz-mun\ • _noun_ **1 :** a government official (as in Sweden or New Zealand) appointed to receive and investigate complaints made by individuals against abuses or capricious acts of public officials **2 :** one that investigates, …
hotdog Aug. 1, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 1, 2020 is: ** **hotdog** • \HAHT-dawg\ • _verb_ **:** to perform in a conspicuous or often ostentatious manner; _especially_ **:** to perform fancy stunts and maneuvers (as while surfing or skiing) **Examples:** The wide receiver _hotdogged_ into the end zone after …
rife July 31, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 31, 2020 is: ** **rife** • \RYFE\ • _adjective_ **1 :** prevalent especially to an increasing degree **2 :** [abundant](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abundant), [common](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/common) **3 :** copiously supplied **:** [abounding](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/abounding) **Examples:** "Like most colleges and universities, ad schools have found themselves going virtual …
catastrophe July 30, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 30, 2020 is: ** **catastrophe** • \kuh-TASS-truh-fee\ • _noun_ **1 :** a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin **2 :** utter failure **:** [fiasco](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/fiasco) **3 a :** a violent and sudden change in a feature …
pejorative July 29, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 29, 2020 is: ** **pejorative** • \pih-JOR-uh-tiv\ • _adjective_ **:** having negative [connotations](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/connotation); _especially_ **:** tending to [disparage](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disparage) or belittle **:** [depreciatory](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/depreciatory) **Examples:** The captain has come under fire for making _pejorative_ remarks about teammates. "There are only two ways to …
mesmerize July 28, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 28, 2020 is: ** **mesmerize** • \MEZ-muh-ryze\ • _verb_ **1 :** to subject to [mesmerism](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/mesmerism); _also_ **:** [hypnotize](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypnotize) **2 :** [spellbind](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spellbind) **Examples:** The crowd was _mesmerized_ by the flawlessly synchronous movements of the acrobats. "Control is a coveted possession in _Credulity_ …
anomaly July 27, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 27, 2020 is: ** **anomaly** • \uh-NAH-muh-lee\ • _noun_ **1 :** something different, abnormal, peculiar, or not easily classified **:** something [anomalous](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/anomalous) **2 :** deviation from the common rule **:** [irregularity](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregularity) **3 :** the angular distance of a planet from its …
epistolary July 26, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 26, 2020 is: ** **epistolary** • \ih-PIST-uh-lair-ee\ • _adjective_ **1 :** of, relating to, or suitable to a letter **2 :** contained in or carried on by letters **3 :** written in the form of a series of letters **Examples:** "Jonathan Franzen, …
noblesse oblige July 25, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 25, 2020 is: ** **noblesse oblige** • \noh-BLESS-uh-BLEEZH\ • _noun_ **:** the obligation of honorable, generous, and responsible behavior associated with high rank or birth **Examples:** "Like many independent schools, Shipley cultivates a sense of _noblesse oblige_ among its students—the notion that …
bowdlerize July 24, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 24, 2020 is: ** **bowdlerize** • \BOHD-ler-ize\ • _verb_ **1** _literature_ **:** to [expurgate](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/expurgate) (something, such as a book) by omitting or modifying parts considered vulgar **2 :** to modify by [abridging](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/abridge), simplifying, or distorting in style or content **Examples:** …
gyre July 23, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 23, 2020 is: ** **gyre** • \JYRE\ • _noun_ **:** a circular or spiral motion or form; _especially_ **:** a giant circular oceanic surface current **Examples:** Sophia will be focusing her graduate studies on the effects of ocean _gyres_ on North America's …
requisite July 22, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 22, 2020 is: ** **requisite** • \REK-wuh-zut\ • _adjective_ **:** needed for a particular purpose **:** [essential](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/essential), [necessary](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/necessary) **Examples:** "Once the application process was formalized, the Institute received nearly two hundred applications from women all across the country; other women …
inculcate July 21, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 21, 2020 is: ** **inculcate** • \in-KUL-kayt\ • _verb_ **:** to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or [admonitions](http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/admonition) **Examples:** "[Edgar Allan Poe] was in general not a [didactic](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/didactic) writer; in fact, he criticized stories and poems that sought to _inculcate_ …
derelict July 20, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 20, 2020 is: ** **derelict** • \DAIR-uh-likt\ • _adjective_ **1 :** abandoned especially by the owner or occupant; _also_ **:** [run- down](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/run-down#h2) **2 :** lacking a sense of duty **:** [negligent](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/negligent) **Examples:** "On Tuesday, crews … were busy using excavators to …
volte-face July 19, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 19, 2020 is: ** **volte-face** • \vawlt-FAHSS\ • _noun_ **:** a reversal in policy **:** [about-face](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/about-face) **Examples:** "... I should explain that, some years ago, I was dealt a very severe blow when my friend ... announced that she wanted no …
jink July 18, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 18, 2020 is: ** **jink** • \JINK\ • _verb_ **:** to move quickly or unexpectedly with sudden turns and shifts (as in dodging) **Examples:** "Two fighters immediately launched missiles, and the American aircraft _jinked_ up, then down to lose them." — [Tom …
mien July 17, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 17, 2020 is: ** **mien** • \MEEN\ • _noun_ **1 :** air or bearing especially as expressive of attitude or personality **:** [demeanor](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/demeanor) **2 :** [appearance](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/appearance), [aspect](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aspect) **Examples:** The minister projected a stern and serious _mien_ from the pulpit, but we found …
callous July 16, 2020
** Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 16, 2020 is: ** **callous** • \KAL-us\ • _adjective_ **1 a :** being hardened and thickened **b :** having [calluses](https://www.merriam- webster.com/dictionary/callus#h1) **2 a :** feeling no emotion **b :** feeling or showing no sympathy for others **:** [hard- hearted](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hard-hearted) **Examples:** "[Noël Coward] …