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.
||linchpin||Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 19, 2018 is: linchpin \LINCH-pin\ noun 1 : a locking pin inserted crosswise (as through the end of an axle or shaft) 2 : one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit Examples: Investors are betting that the new product line will be the linchpin that secures the company's place in the very competitive market in the years and decades to come. "Saudi Arabia planned to take its giant oil company, Saudi Aramco, to the public markets. It was to be the linchpin of a grand economic vision, generating billions of dollars to pay for future-proofing the kingdom's economy, including huge investments in technology." — Michael J. de la Merced, The New York Times, 25 Aug. 2018 Did you know? In his 1857 novel, Tom Brown's School Days, Thomas Hughes describes the "cowardly [blackguard](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blackguard) custom" of "taking the linch-pins out of the farmers' and [bagmens'](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bagman) [gigs](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gig#h1) at the fairs." The linchpin in question held the wheel on the gig and removing it made it likely that the wheel would come off as the vehicle moved. Such a pin was called a lynis in Old English; Middle English speakers added [pin](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pin) to form lynspin. By the early 20th century, English speakers were using linchpin for anything as critical to a complex situation as a linchpin is to a wagon, as when Winston Churchill, in 1930, wrote of Canada and the role it played in the relationship between Great Britain and the United States, that "no state, no country, no band of men can more truly be described as the linchpin of peace and world progress."||10/18/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||de rigueur||Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 18, 2018 is: de rigueur \duh-ree-GUR\ adjective : prescribed or required by fashion, etiquette, or custom : [proper](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proper) Examples: "[Emma] Stone, who patiently smiled through the de rigueur photo shoot in front of a backdrop emblazoned with the logos of the festival and its sponsors, should be extra light on her feet these days after singing and dancing with co-star Ryan Gosling in one of the opening night movies, 'La La Land.'" — Paul Liberatore, The Marin Independent Journal (Marin County, California), 6 Oct. 2016 "It's fascinating to compare not only the speeches that Robert and the king's heir give before heading into combat, but also Robert's words with those Gibson's Wallace delivers in 'Braveheart.' So much has changed in nearly a quarter century's time that Mackenzie's idea of blockbuster heroism robs his 'Outlaw King' of the bombastic pep talk that would have been de rigueur for a studio movie." — John Simon, The Weekly Standard, 2 Mar. 2018 Did you know? If you're invited to a ball or other social function and the invitation includes the French phrase costume de rigueur, you are expected to adhere to a very strict dress code—typically, a white tie and tails if you're a man and a floor-length evening gown if you're a woman. In French, de rigueur means "out of strictness" or "according to strict etiquette"; one definition of our word [rigor](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rigor), to which rigueur is related, is "the quality of being strict, unyielding, or inflexible." In English, we tend to use de rigueur to describe a fashion or custom that is so commonplace within a context that it seems a prescribed, mandatory part of it.||10/17/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||acceptation||Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 17, 2018 is: acceptation \ak-sep-TAY-shun\ noun 1 : [acceptance](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acceptance); especially : favorable reception or approval 2 : a generally accepted meaning of a word or understanding of a concept Examples: "About 40 fine arts students filled out a two-page application to be a part of the project, Rodriguez said.... Some have done commissioned work and sold their art on Etsy. One received an automatic acceptation to a prestigious art school in Chicago on National Portfolio Day last fall." — Laura Gutschke, The Abilene (Texas) Reporter-News, 8 Apr. 2018 "For its primary definition of 'money,' the same source states, 'In usual and ordinary acceptation it means gold, silver, or paper money used as circulating medium of exchange, and does not embrace notes, bonds, evidences of debt, or other personal or real estate.'" — Tom Egan, The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, 1 June 2017 Did you know? Acceptation is older than its synonym acceptance; it first appeared in print in the 15th century, whereas acceptance makes a 16th-century appearance. Grammarian H. W. Fowler insisted in 1926 that acceptation and acceptance were not actually synonymous (he preferred to reserve acceptation for the "accepted meaning" use), but the earliest meaning of acceptation was indeed acceptance. Both words descend from the Anglo-French word accepter ("to accept"), but acceptation took an extra step. Anglo-French added the -ation ending, which was changed to form acceptacioun in Middle English. (English embraced the present-day [-ation](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/-ation) ending later.) Acceptance simply comes from accepter plus the Anglo-French [-ance](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/-ance).||10/16/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||nary||Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 16, 2018 is: nary \NAIR-ee\ adjective : not any : not one Examples: "I must have it back as I have nary other copy." — Flannery O'Connor, letter, 1961 "Under harsh fluorescent hangar lights that would make even a brand-new Mercedes appear to have been painted with a broom, Symmetry reveals nary ripple nor flaw." — Stephan Wilkinson, Popular Science, March 2004 Did you know? Nary, most often used in the phrase "nary a" to mean "not a single," is an 18th-century alteration of the adjectival phrase "ne'er a," in which [ne'er](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ne'er) is a contraction of [never](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/never). That contraction dates to the 13th century, and the word it abbreviates is even older: never can be traced back to Old English nǣfre, a combination of ne ("not" or "no") and ǣfre ("ever"). Old English ne also combined with ā ("always") to give us nā, the Old English ancestor of our [no](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/no). Ā, from the Latin aevum ("age" or "lifetime") and Greek aiōn ("age"), is related to the English adverb [aye](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aye#h3), meaning "always, continually, or ever." This aye (pronounced to rhyme with say) is unrelated to the more familiar [aye](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aye#h1) (pronounced to rhyme with sigh) used as a synonym of [yes](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yes).||10/15/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||tergiversation||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 Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, where the horrific daily reality for fighting soldiers is nicely juxtaposed with the tergiversations of generals and officials safe in Kabul and Washington." — Jason Burke, The Spectator, 3 Feb. 2018 "The emotional [leitmotif](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leitmotif) of Frankel's book is the Wilde-Douglas love story, one of vacillations and tergiversations, perhaps the most spectacular in the annals of literary history. There were various times when each of the lovers declared he would kill the other, only to rush back into his outstretched arms." — John Simon, The Weekly Standard, 2 Mar. 2018 Did you know? The roots of tergiversation are about an unwillingness to pick a course and stay on it. The Latin verb tergiversari means "to show reluctance," and it comes from the combining of tergum, meaning "back," and versare, meaning "to turn." (While versare and its related form, vertere, turn up in the etymologies of many English words, including [versatile](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/versatile) and [invert](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/invert), tergum is at the root of only a few, among them [tergal](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tergal), an obscure synonym of [dorsal](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dorsal#h2).) While the "desertion" meaning of tergiversation is both older and a better reflection of the meanings of its [etyma](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/etymon), the word is more frequently used as a synonym of [equivocation](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equivocation). The related verb [tergiversate](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tergiversate) is a somewhat rare synonym of [equivocate](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equivocate).||10/14/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||crapulous||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 crapulous and reeked strongly—even to myself—of the odours of the tavern." — Jeremy Clarke, The Spectator, 24 May 2008 "Your former acquaintance with Deane may perhaps put it in your power to render our country the service of recovering those books. It would not do to propose it to him as for Congress. What other way would best bring it about, you know best. I suppose his distresses and his crapulous habits will not render him difficult on this head [understanding]." — Thomas Jefferson, letter, 2 Mar. 1789 Did you know? Crapulous may sound like a word that you shouldn't use in polite company, but it actually has a long and perfectly respectable history (although it's not a particularly kind way to describe someone). It is derived from the Late Latin adjective crapulosus, which, in turn, traces back to the Latin word crapula, meaning "intoxication." (The decidedly impolite word [crap](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crap) is unrelated; it comes from a British dialect term meaning "residue from rendered fat.") Crapula itself comes from a much older Greek word for the headache one gets from drinking too much alcohol. Crapulous first appeared in print in the 1530s. Approximately 200 years later, its close cousin [crapulence](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crapulence) arrived on the scene as a word for sickness caused by excessive drinking. Crapulence later acquired the meaning "great intemperance especially in drinking," but it is not an especially common word.||10/13/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||quip||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 : something strange, [droll](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/droll), curious, or eccentric : [oddity](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oddity) Examples: To almost every comment I made, Adam responded with a quip and a smile. "The cancellation of the CW network's 'Veronica Mars' after three precious, ratings-starved seasons was a TV tragedy. Viewers reluctantly moved on, but we did not forget the girl who was quick with a quip, and perhaps even quicker with a taser." — Karla Peterson, The San Diego Union Tribune, 25 Aug. 2018 Did you know? Quip is an [abbreviation](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abbreviation) of quippy, a noun that is no longer in use. Etymologists believe that quippy derived from the Latin quippe, a word meaning "indeed" or "to be sure" that was often used ironically. The earliest sense of quip, referring to a cutting or sarcastic remark, was common for approximately a century after it first appeared in print in the early 1500s. It then fell out of use until the beginning of the 19th century, when it underwent a revival that continues to the present day.||10/12/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||emblazon||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: Outside the stadium in the hours before the game, thousands of fans wearing shirts and hats emblazoned with the hometown team's logo gathered. "Berkshire County knows David York as the man just daring enough to open a museum dedicated to dogs and emblazon the sides of a stretch limousine with a depiction of a dachshund." — Adam Shanks, The Berkshire Eagle (Massachusetts), 19 June 2018 Did you know? English speakers have been using the heraldic sense of emblazon since the late 16th century, and before that there was the verb [blazon](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blazon#h2) ("to describe heraldically") and the noun [blazon](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blazon#h1) ("a heraldic coat of arms"), which descend from Anglo-French blason. Emblazon still refers to adorning something with an emblem of heraldry, but it is now more often used for adorning or publicizing something in any conspicuous way, whether with eye-catching decoration or colorful words of praise.||10/11/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||by and large||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 Frakt, The New York Times, 29 Aug. 2018 "The action is, by and large, wordless (a TV set provides the occasional scrolling quote), with amplified sound and Carberry's playing of prepared instruments adding atmosphere." — Thom Dibdin, The Stage (London), 9 Aug. 2018 Did you know? By and large is originally a sailing term meaning "alternately close-[hauled](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hauled) and not close-hauled." A ship that is sailing "close-hauled" is sailing as directly into the wind as possible (typically within about 45 degrees of the wind). The [by](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/by#h2) part of the phrase means "close-hauled." (This by also appears in the term [full and by](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/full%20and%20by), meaning "sailing with all sails full and as close to the wind as possible.") [Large](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/large#h2), by contrast, refers to a point of sail in which the wind is hitting the boat "[abaft](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abaft#h2) the beam," or behind the boat's widest point. A 1669 example of a variant spelling of by and large gives us a sense of the range implied: "Thus you see the ship handled in fair weather and foul, by and learge" (S. Sturmy, Mariners Magazine). The suggestion of a wide range carries over into the term's "in general" sense.||10/10/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||Luddite||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 Parade, July 2008, actress/screenwriter Emma Thompson jested, "I'm a Luddite, and I write longhand with an old fountain pen." "It's not that firefighters are Luddites. But in life-and-death situations, they can't afford to rely on solutions that haven't been thoroughly field-tested." — Carolyn Said, The San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Aug. 2018 Did you know? Luddites could be considered the first victims of corporate downsizing. The Luddite movement began in the vicinity of Nottingham, England, toward the end of 1811 when textile mill workers rioted for the destruction of the new machinery that was slowly replacing them. Their name is of uncertain origin, but it may be connected to a (probably mythical) person known as Ned Ludd. According to an unsubstantiated account in George Pellew's Life of Lord Sidmouth (1847), Ned Ludd was a Leicestershire villager of the late 1700s who, in a fit of insane rage, rushed into a stocking weaver's house and destroyed his equipment; subsequently, his name was proverbially connected with machinery destruction. With the onset of the information age, Luddite gained a broader sense describing anyone who shuns new technology.||10/9/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
Yep...sounds like a dictionary to me!
What a great idea- but why does it have to be so boring?! M-W is my dictionary of choice but unless this podcast entertains me AND lets me learn, I won't listen.
Almost as good as....
It is wonderful that M-W supports services such as these. They also provide support for Kathleen Taylor's NPR show, "Word for the Wise". The M-W "Word of the Day" seems to be the same idea, not as well produced or delivered. I'll download it though; the subject is fascinating, no matter how boring the announcer may be.
As a particularly lazy individual, I can say that this is as good as it gets. Of course, in keeping with my indolent nature, I'd recommend the Webster-Chip implantation. Of course that's way, way off. I know this for a fact, because you-know-who would've had one and the cost of installation would be tax deductible