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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







heinous • \HAY-nus\ • adjective : hatefully or shockingly evil : abominable Examples: The former dictator will stand trial for the role he played in his government's heinous treatment of political dissidents. "As with garden-variety bullies and toughs, the unearned self-regard of tyrants is eternally vulnerable to being popped, so any opposition to their rule is treated not as a criticism but as a heinous crime." — Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature,2011 Did you...



blithesome • \BLIGHTH-sum\ • adjective : with lightheartedness or unconcern : gay, merry Examples: "The stranger had given a blithesome promise, and anchored it with oaths; but oaths and anchors equally will drag; naught else abides on fickle earth but unkept promises of joy." — Herman Melville, The Piazza Tales, 1856 "Writing and producing comedy is no laughing matter. A subtle alchemy is required if it is to work—a strange magic involving both the playwright, the director and the...



exhilarate • \ig-ZIL-uh-rayt\ • verb : to make (someone) very happy and excited or elated Examples: "To be working, to be making a film for the cinema, at a time when so many people were wondering if that would ever be possible again, was exhilarating. We proved to ourselves the heady fact that we can still work, even under this pandemic, it does not need to rob us of everything we cherish." — Tilda Swinton, quoted in The Asbury Park (New Jersey) Press, 10 Mar. 2021 "Maxey's...



veracity • \vuh-RASS-uh-tee\ • noun 1 : conformity with truth or fact : accuracy 2 : devotion to the truth : truthfulness 3 : power of conveying or perceiving truth 4 : something true Examples: English poet Thomas Gray wrote, "Any fool may write a most valuable book by chance, if he will only tell us what he heard and saw with veracity." "Few observers have bothered to point out that the same online magic that allows viewers to stream 'The Crown' on demand also allows them to...



importunate • \im-POR-chuh-nut\ • adjective 1 : troublesomely urgent : overly persistent in request or demand 2 : troublesome Examples: "It seems apt that in the play's first scene, set at 6 a.m. in Lagos, Nigeria, an importunate young customer asks the barber he's so rudely awakened to give him an 'aerodynamic' cut." — Ben Brantley, The New York Times, 4 Dec. 2019 "But when I spoke to Nadella he allowed that when you see people in their homes, with their noisy children and...



shrive • \SHRYVE\ • verb 1 : to administer the sacrament of reconciliation to 2 : to free from guilt Examples: "Once every three months, Pancho took his savings and drove into Monterey to confess his sins, to do his penance, and be shriven and to get drunk, in the order named." — John Steinbeck, The Pastures of Heaven, 1932 "Each Saturday he confessed humbly at St Francis' Church, then shrived penitents for long hours at the cathedral, never stinting his homilies." — James...



paean • \PEE-un\ • noun 1 : a joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute, thanksgiving, or triumph 2 : a work that praises or honors its subject : encomium, tribute Examples: "But Thornton Wilder's 'Our Town,' set amid the mountains there, is no folksy paean to simplicity. It's a boldly experimental play about the beauty of the everyday, and human beings' tragic propensity to look right past that." — Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times, 6 Jan. 2021 "Adam Grant, an organizational...



frugal • \FROO-gul\ • adjective : characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources Examples: "Frugal diners might prefer hitting Ulrich's on Monday nights, when all burgers are $3 off. It's one of the best deals Downtown, or anywhere in town." — Nick Vlahos, The Peoria (Illinois) Journal Star, 1 Mar. 2021 "But a frugal lifestyle doesn't have to mean a deprived lifestyle. In fact, I've managed to whittle down my spending and boost my savings by making a few simple but...



archipelago • \ahr-kuh-PEL-uh-goh\ • noun 1 : an expanse of water with many scattered islands 2 : a group of islands 3 : something resembling an archipelago; especially : a group or scattering of similar things Examples: "The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands, is recognized globally as a megadiverse nation and a biodiversity hotspot." — The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 30 Mar. 2021 "For those who have the choice, an island is a place to go to simplify...



deep-six • \DEEP-SIKS\ • verb 1 : to get rid of : discard, eliminate 2 slang : to throw overboard Examples: Citing budget concerns, the city council announced that it has deep-sixed plans to repave the city's bike trails. "The movement impressed the Clinton White House, which began drafting an executive order mandating plain language in government—until an administration attorney deep-sixed the idea because he did not find the mission suitably 'magisterial.'" — Evan Halper, The...



sprightly • \SPRYTE-lee\ • adjective 1 : marked by a gay lightness and vivacity : spirited 2 : having a distinctively piquant taste : zesty Examples: "It began with a sprightly melody, exact and almost priggish, which seemed an absurd contrast to the surroundings. People should have been … tiptoeing in fancy dress." — Alix Ohlin, Dual Citizens, 2019 "My chicken dish gained flavor from the liquid I used to poach it in. After I thickened it with a cornstarch slurry, that same liquid...



succumb • \suh-KUM\ • verb 1 : to yield to superior strength or force or overpowering appeal or desire 2 : to be brought to an end (such as death) by the effect of destructive or disruptive forces Examples: "Of all the food experiences I have missed in the last year, one stands out: my regular trip to a falafel stall on the edge of London's Shepherd's Bush Market. It sold the greatest falafels I've ever tasted: crisp and crunchy on the outside, succumbing to a fluffy interior,...



conciliatory • \kun-SILL-yuh-tor-ee\ • adjective : tending to win over from a state of hostility or distrust : intended to gain the goodwill or favor of someone Examples: As the irate customer yelled, the manager adopted a soothing, conciliatory tone and promised that the situation would be remedied. "Then you have the situations in Green Bay and Seattle where veterans with Super Bowl wins and Hall of Fame resumes have expressed their feelings about their teams' direction. Green...



abjure • \ab-JOOR\ • verb 1 formal a : to renounce upon oath b : to reject solemnly 2 formal : to abstain from : avoid Examples: "Pop was indeed eating itself. 'If you've gone eight bars and there hasn't been an inanity,' argued [musician Green Gartside], 'it's time for a "baby" or an "ooh" or a "love" or something.' Perhaps the Pixies 1989 song 'La La Love You' takes this to its logical conclusion, abjuring all lyrics except repeated declarations of love, the 'maybes' and the...



fustian • \FUSS-chun\ • noun 1 a : a strong cotton and linen fabric b : a class of cotton fabrics usually having a pile face and twill weave 2 : high-flown or affected writing or speech; broadly : anything high-flown or affected in style Examples: "In 1798, William Wordsworth arrived from Bristol at the cottage of his friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge…. Twenty-five years later, William Hazlitt, who was also in residence at the time, still remembered his first sight of the future...



dross • \DRAHSS\ • noun 1 : the scum or unwanted material that forms on the surface of molten metal 2 : waste or foreign matter : impurity 3 : something that is base, trivial, or inferior Examples: "From King John's compulsion by feudal lords to sign the Magna Carta to the execution of King Charles by Parliamentarian forces, English governance was forged, with the dross constantly falling away, in situations as real and uncertain as in our time." — Douglas D. Ford, The Atlanta...



amicable • \AM-ih-kuh-bul\ • adjective : characterized by friendly goodwill : peaceable Examples: "Those two weeks in the high country passed with the most amicable feeling between us, and it was not until the last day that Layton showed the unpleasant side of his personality that we all knew existed." — Shannon Burke, Into the Savage Country, 2015 "While neither Kardashian nor West has talked publicly about the split, a source told Us following the filing that their separation was...



herald • \HAIR-uld\ • verb 1 : to give notice of : announce 2 a : to greet especially with enthusiasm : hail b : publicize 3 : to signal the approach of : foreshadow Examples: The appearance of robins heralded the arrival of spring. "The amount of money invested into U.K. tech companies has almost doubled in the past six months, heralding what prime minister Boris Johnson says could be a 'record-breaking year in 2021.'" — Ollie Williams, Forbes, 16 Mar. 2021 Did you...



rococo • \ruh-KOH-koh\ • adjective 1 a : of or relating to an artistic style especially of the 18th century characterized by fanciful curved asymmetrical forms and elaborate ornamentation b : of or relating to an 18th century musical style marked by light gay ornamentation and departure from thoroughbass and polyphony 2 : excessively ornate or intricate Examples: Among the items being auctioned off is a beautiful set of six chairs carved in a rococo style. "Like most outdoor...



epicure • \EP-ih-kyur\ • noun : one with sensitive and discriminating tastes especially in food or wine Examples: "At the back of the shop, Atwell and his apprentice, former chef Ryan Perrier, sharpen upwards of 3,500 blades a year on Japanese whetstones for a range of customers, including local chefs and at-home epicures." — Sara Anne Donnelly, Down East, June 2020 "Tucci has long been a masterful actor, but he has more recently unlocked a second career as an epicure and an object...