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







progeny • \PRAH-juh-nee\ • noun 1 a : descendants, children b : offspring of animals or plants 2 : outcome, product 3 : a body of followers, disciples, or successors Examples: The champion thoroughbred passed on his speed, endurance, and calm temperament to his progeny, many of whom became successful racehorses themselves. "The plan … is to release millions of male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that have been genetically modified so that their female progeny can develop only if they...



abrupt • \uh-BRUPT\ • adjective 1 a : characterized by or involving action or change without preparation or warning : sudden and unexpected b : rudely or unceremoniously curt c : lacking smoothness or continuity 2 : giving the impression of being cut or broken off; especially : involving a sudden steep rise or drop Examples: We were all stunned when Dennis made the abrupt decision to quit his job and move to Italy. "Federally subsidized visual art (along with plays, art centers,...



calumny • \KAL-um-nee\ • noun 1 : a misrepresentation intended to harm another's reputation 2 : the act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to harm another's reputation Examples: "[Heinrich von Kleist] sets his novella in the 14th century, when duelling was seen as a trial by battle in which the 'Judgment of God' would prevail. A murder, a wronged noblewoman, shame, calumny, castles, a melodramatic ending, Kleist's story pulls together all the key...



harry • \HAIR-ee\ • verb 1 : to make a pillaging or destructive raid on : assault 2 : to force to move along by harassing 3 : to torment by or as if by constant attack Examples: Seven-year-old Kaitlyn harried her little sister with pokes, hair pulling, and teasing, badgering her until she burst into tears. "There was little puck support in either zone. The Rangers were pinned for shifts at a time and were harried into turnovers while unable to apply more than token pressure in...



jocund • \JAH-kund\ • adjective : marked by or suggestive of high spirits and lively mirthfulness Examples: "'Get drunk … on words!' proclaims this pub crawl/reading event: More than 80 writers will take over some 35 Capitol Hill and First Hill venues (mostly bars, as well as places like Elliott Bay Book Company and the Frye Art Museum) to knock back a few and present their own work to increasingly jocund crowds." — Gavin Borchert, The Seattle (Washington) Magazine, October...



fealty • \FEE-ul-tee\ • noun 1 a : the fidelity of a vassal or feudal tenant to his lord b : the obligation of such fidelity 2 : intense fidelity Examples: "Ordinary English soccer fans dispatched the Super League with a populist putsch even before it had scheduled its first game. Those fans went into the streets, demonstrating loudly and insisting they would abandon teams to which they had professed lifelong fealty." — Kevin Cullen, The Boston Globe, 22 Apr. 2021 "Bathed in a...



deride • \dih-RYDE\ • verb 1 : to laugh at or insult contemptuously 2 : to subject to usually bitter or contemptuous ridicule or criticism : to express a lack of respect or approval of Examples: Although derided by classmates for his cocksure insistence that he would be a millionaire by the age of 25, he achieved his goal when his Internet startup went public. "Some will see such efforts as a wise risk-mitigation strategy, as well as a way of appealing to consumers and employees....



titanic • \tye-TAN-ik\ • adjective : having great magnitude, force, or power : colossal Examples: "A supernova occurs when a massive star in the bright disk of the galaxy runs out of fuel at the end of its life. With no 'fire' in its belly to beat back gravity's inexorable pull, the star implodes and then rebounds in a titanic explosion that rips it apart." — Bob King, The Duluth (Minnesota) News Tribune, 30 Aug. 2020 "Even more impressive, is that in 1976-77 the band had yet to...



virtuoso • \ver-choo-OH-soh\ • noun 1 : one who excels in the technique of an art; especially : a highly skilled musical performer (as on the violin) 2 : an experimenter or investigator especially in the arts and sciences : savant 3 : one skilled in or having a taste for the fine arts 4 : a person who has great skill at some endeavor Examples: "Perhaps most captivating is the sheer range of strange, delicate and piercing sounds the brilliant Bjarke Mogensen draws from the...



poignant • \POY-nyunt\ • adjective 1 a : painfully affecting the feelings : piercing b : deeply affecting : touching c : designed to make an impression : cutting 2 a : pleasurably stimulating b : being to the point : apt 3 : pungently pervasive Examples: "Across Texas and the U.S. this year, high schools and universities scrambled to find ways to give students a meaningful graduation amid the coronavirus pandemic. There have been virtual events, drive-through ceremonies in...



majuscule • \MAJ-uh-skyool\ • noun : a large letter (such as a capital) Examples: "At least the random emphatic majuscules on blogs are uncommon enough to make a rhetorical impression, though perhaps one not quite worthy of Serious Journalism." — Katy Waldman, Slate, 25 Aug. 2016 "It is the name Meyer-Decker—the eleven letters, the two majuscules, the hyphen that's a bridge to grander things—which ambushes him, which jumps from its inky thicket and assails him at last." — Jonathan...



enjoin • \in-JOIN\ • verb 1 : to direct or impose by authoritative order or with urgent admonition 2 a : forbid, prohibit b : to prohibit by a judicial order : put an injunction on Examples: "And yet, to satisfy this good old man, / I would bend under any heavy weight/ That he'll enjoin me to." — William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, 1598-99 "The city attorney has explicitly written of this exclusion in a letter to the residents of my neighborhood, enjoining us from...



bumptious • \BUMP-shus\ • adjective : presumptuously, obtusely, and often noisily self-assertive : obtrusive Examples: "The brash, bumptious New Yorkers I'd encountered in college had assured me that everything in New York was 'the best.'" — Herbert Buchsbaum, The New York Times, 19 Jan. 2021 "Since its introduction in the late 1990s, the Escalade has been the 118-year-old Detroit luxury brand’s flagship—its most expensive model, and the one that perhaps best represents the...



solipsism • \SOH-lip-sih-zum\ • noun : a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing; also : extreme egocentrism Examples: "The solipsism born of social distancing and months of relative confinement leads me to see everything in relation to my current problem, which is online kindergarten." — Lydia Kiesling, The New Yorker, 5 Oct. 2020 "The 41 essays in Vesper Flights continue her explorations into the...



glean • \GLEEN\ • verb 1 : to gather grain or other produce left by reapers 2 : to gather information or material bit by bit 3 a : to pick up after a reaper b : to strip of the leavings of reapers 4 a : to gather (something, such as information) bit by bit b : to pick over in search of relevant material 5 : find out Examples: "Every year since Arecibo's completion, in 1963, hundreds of researchers from around the world had taken turns pointing the radio telescope toward the...



didactic • \dye-DAK-tik\ • adjective 1 a : designed or intended to teach b : intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment 2 : making moral observations Examples: Many of the shows on the channel are didactic, teaching children about such things as the importance of recycling, exercise, and honesty through the actions of animated characters. "[Beverly] Cleary frowned on the moralizing, didactic themes that dominated children's literature in...



rigmarole • \RIG-uh-muh-rol\ • noun 1 : confused or meaningless talk 2 : a complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure Examples: "We know now, thanks to Reddit threads and social media doing its due diligence, the real reason McDonald's ice cream machines always seem to be broken is because they're not—they just take four hours and an 11-step process to clean. This rigmarole is often what's actually preventing McDonald's employees from serving up your hot fudge sundae." — Megan...



peach • \PEECH\ • verb 1 : to inform against : betray 2 : to turn informer : blab Examples: "They'll think his lordship, or perhaps his brother, peached on them." — Grace Burrowes, Gabriel: Lord of Regrets, 2013 "Peter cocked his head. 'What are the chances of him finding out who peached him?' 'He will certainly never hear it from me.' She slid her gaze to her coachman. 'Or Gary. As long as you don't say anything, there is no chance.'" — Michelle Diener, The Emperor's Conspiracy,...



colleague • \KAH-leeg\ • noun : an associate or coworker typically in a profession or in a civil or ecclesiastical office and often of similar rank or status : a fellow worker or professional Examples: Rochelle's creativity, professional demeanor, and ability to get things done soon earned her the respect of her colleagues. "Without an option to drop by a colleague's desk to ask a casual question, teams felt there should be more process conversations, but also that these chats...



anfractuous • \an-FRAK-chuh-wus\ • adjective : full of windings and intricate turnings : tortuous Examples: "Then, as the road resumed its anfractuous course, clinging to the extreme margin of this tumbled and chaotic coast, the fun began. It was impossible to count the roller-coaster climbs and downward swoops; ravines skirted; rivers ingeniously bridged; bends tight as the loops in a thumbprint; naked rockfaces; cliff-edge encounters, hundreds of feet above the ocean, each of...