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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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


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







critique • \kruh-TEEK\ • noun A critique is a careful judgment in which you give your opinion about the good and bad parts of something, such as a piece of writing or a work of art. // Although I disagreed with them, the reviewer gave a fair and honest critique of the film. See the entry > Examples: “Georgia, Gabriella, and Yannik still hadn't gotten a critique from the judges at this point, and while no news can be considered good news (they’d advanced safely through so far), it...



proselytize • \PRAH-suh-luh-tyze\ • verb Proselytize is a formal word that means “to try to persuade people to join a religion, cause, or group.” // Eliza is a staunch environmentalist who always feels the need to proselytize to anyone who doesn't drive an electric or hybrid car. See the entry > Examples: “... [Television mogul Shonda] Rhimes also stresses that, when it comes to her work and the shows she’s creating, she’s not trying to proselytize or push agendas, outside of...



ritzy • \RIT-see\ • adjective Ritzy is used to describe things that are fancy or stylish in ways that one might consider impressive or showy. // She preferred the simplicity (and affordability) of a rustic cabin to the superfluities of a ritzy resort. See the entry > Examples: “Situated on nearly two acres of land in the ritzy neighborhood of Bel Air, the sprawling manor is surrounded by a stone wall and gates and now boasts an impressive six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and two...



kerfuffle • \ker-FUFF-ul\ • noun Kerfuffle is an informal word that means “a disturbance or fuss typically caused by a dispute or conflict.” // The reclassification of Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet caused quite a kerfuffle among astronomy lovers. See the entry > Examples: “I wasn’t the only one given a seat that had already been claimed. ... Thankfully the flight was half-empty. Once the seating kerfuffle subsided, I noticed something remarkable. I had an incredible amount...



fructify • \FRUK-tuh-fye\ • verb Fructify means “to make fruitful or productive” or “to bear fruit or profit.” // Her parents are in a comfortable financial position, thanks to some investments that have recently begun to fructify. See the entry > Examples: “After two seasons.... [Pamela] Adlon stepped up, hiring a writers’ room. And ‘Better Things’ kept going, fructifying into a closely observed and deeply felt portrait of one woman’s over-full life.” — Alexis Soloski, The New...



sporadic • \spuh-RAD-ik\ • adjective Something described as sporadic occurs occasionally, irregularly, or randomly across time or space. // The team’s regular meetings became sporadic over the summer months, when at some points up to half of its members were on vacation. See the entry > Examples: “Over the decades, what began as sporadic nods to Black campus experiences has grown into more: portrayals that are both authentic and that challenge stereotypes about H.B.C.U. college...



caucus • \KAW-kus\ • noun A caucus is “a meeting of members of a political party for the purpose of choosing candidates for an election.” It also refers to “a group of people who meet to discuss a particular issue or to work together for a shared, usually political goal.” // Members of the caucus debated long and hard to come to a unified position on the issue. See the entry > Examples: “Doors open to committee members, candidates and their guests at 10 a.m. and the caucus is...



anthropomorphic • \an-thruh-puh-MOR-fik\ • adjective Anthropomorphic means “described or thought of as being like human beings in appearance, behavior, etc.” // The story chronicles the adventures of a group of anthropomorphic forest critters. See the entry > Examples: “Dream and his six siblings are the anthropomorphic personifications of universal concepts. Despite their cosmic importance, they also bicker and bond like a real family.” — Christian Holub, Entertainment Weekly, 26...



misnomer • \miss-NOH-mer\ • noun Misnomer means “an incorrect name or designation.” It can also be used to refer to the act of wrongly naming or designating, as in “calling complicated and varied climatic changes ‘global warming’ is something of a misnomer.” // Peanut is one of the most famous misnomers, because peanuts are legumes, not true nuts. See the entry > Examples: “The librarian of the Oregon Grotto, which is a bit of a misnomer because it’s focused on southern...



defer • \dih-FER\ • verb Defer means “to choose to do (something) at a later time.” // She deferred her master’s program for a year so that she could travel the world. See the entry > Examples: “... lack of access to regular mortgage lending forces our clients to turn to predatory alternative lending and rent-to-own schemes or defer making needed repairs to their aging homes.” — Rachel Labush and Michael Froehlich, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 29 Aug. 2022 Did you know? There...



perspicacious • \per-spuh-KAY-shus\ • adjective Perspicacious is a formal word that means “possessing acute mental vision or discernment.” Someone who is perspicacious has a keen ability to notice and understand things that are difficult or not obvious. // She considers herself a perspicacious judge of character. See the entry > Examples: “Some of the film’s performances are merely peculiar and others merely apt, but [actor Don] Cheadle is thrilling, with coiled strength and a...



verdigris • \VER-duh-greess\ • noun Verdigris is a green or bluish deposit, usually of copper carbonates, that forms on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces. // We removed the verdigris from Grandma’s old copper jewelry by first soaking it in lemon juice, then gently polishing it with a soft rag. See the entry > Examples: “There’s a standard shower room, but also—drum roll—an outside bath, which is private thanks to a wooden fence, so you can concentrate on the canopy of tree...



haywire • \HAY-wyre\ • adverb or adjective Haywire means “being out of order or having gone wrong” or “emotionally or mentally upset or out of control.” It is often used in the phrase “go haywire.” // The company's emailing system went haywire and sent out multiple copies of the advertisement to its subscribers. See the entry > Examples: “Something, I suspect, is going haywire in the frying process, an interaction that leads to those off-putting aromas. Is the oil not hot enough,...



exponent • \ik-SPOH-nunt\ • noun Exponent refers to “someone who supports a particular cause or belief” as well as “someone who is known for a particular method or style.” // He was a leading exponent of animal rights. See the entry > Examples: “Onscreen, [Tom] Cruise is unmistakably our biggest movie star, as the New York Times reporter Nicole Sperling recently explained—the last true exponent of a century-old studio system that has been steadily eroded by the rising forces of...



laconic • \luh-KAH-nik\ • adjective Someone described as laconic uses few words in speech or writing. The word often also implies brevity to the point of seeming rude, indifferent, or mysterious. // Her bubbly and loquacious personality was a humorous yet complementary contrast to her girlfriend's more laconic demeanor. See the entry > Examples: “The genius of ‘Wall-E’ lies in its ability to inspire empathy with a pair of robots that can speak only a few words. It helps that...



coalesce • \koh-uh-LESS\ • verb Coalesce means “to come together to form one group or mass” or “to join forces.” // The club's community service projects provide students with a common goal to coalesce around. // The ice masses coalesced into a glacier over time. See the entry > Examples: “This is European soccer—or, at least, an idealized version of it: clubs that represent something greater than themselves, offering communities narratives to coalesce around.” — Tom McTague, The...



rancid • \RAN-sid\ • adjective Rancid means “having an unpleasant smell or taste,” and is often used to describe food that is no longer fresh. It is also used to describe something (such as an encounter) that is offensive or distasteful. // A quick sniff is typically all that's needed to determine if vegetable oil is rancid. See the entry > Examples: “At a basic level, ghee is a type of clarified butter believed to have originated in India as a way to preserve butter from going...



broadside • \BRAWD-syde\ • noun The word broadside most often refers to a very strong and harsh spoken or written attack, but it has other meanings as well, among them “an attack by a ship in which all the guns on one side of the ship are fired together.” // Although the freshman representative knew her decision was bound to be unpopular, she was taken aback by the broadside leveled at her by her hometown newspaper’s editorial page. See the entry > Examples: “Mr. Taruskin had a...



titivate • \TIH-tuh-vayt\ • verb Titivate means "to make (someone or something) neater or more attractive," and is a synonym of spruce up. // Her morning routine includes a few minutes spent titivating in front of the mirror. See the entry > Examples: "From the US seafood seasoning Old Bay ... to lapsang souchong salt, there are numerous ways to titivate chips." — Tony Naylor, The Guardian (London), 22 Jan. 2022 Did you know? Titivate is a fancy way of saying spruce up,...



invective • \in-VEK-tiv\ • noun Invective means "insulting or abusive language." It can also refer to an abusive expression or speech. // Her opening campaign speech was, to the shock of everyone present, filled with invective that contrasted sharply with the expectations of those in attendance. See the entry > Examples: There’s a racial aspect [to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Carrie Soto is Back] too: the powerfully built, Latina Carrie is judged very differently to the supermodel...