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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







gossamer • \GAH-suh-mer\ • adjective Gossamer means "extremely light, delicate, or tenuous." // Except for a few gossamer clouds, the sky was clear and blue. See the entry > Examples: "The dragonfly is our state insect…. As a beautiful predator with gossamer wings…, this insect deserves far more appreciation." — Barbara Hunt, The Mat-Su Valley (Alaska) Frontiersman, 2 Aug. 2021 Did you know? In the days of Middle English, a period of mild weather in late autumn or early winter...



embellish • \im-BELL-ish\ • verb Embellish means "to make (something) more appealing or attractive with fanciful or decorative details." // As they grew older, the children realized their grandfather embellished the stories of his travels abroad. // The gift shop had cowboy shirts and hats embellished with beads and stitching. See the entry > Examples: "Well, I've always wanted to write a children's book. This is just partly based on a story I used to tell Krishna, my daughter,...



cabal • \kuh-BAHL\ • noun A cabal is a group secretly united in a plot. // Military police arrested members of the cabal who were planning to overthrow the government. See the entry > Examples: "February 14? … That's an arbitrary date picked by a cabal of florists and greeting card manufacturers. Love can happen any time of the year…." — Bruce Gravel, Peterborough (Ontario) This Week, 4 Feb. 2021 Did you know? Cabal has been associated with a group of five ministers in the...



odious • \OH-dee-us\ • adjective Odious means "causing strong hatred or dislike." // The biography is an in-depth account of one of the most odious serial killers in American history. See the entry > Examples: "There are probably few things more emotion-laden and odious as taxes. But for a society to function for the common good, they are a necessary evil." — William P. Cawley, The Richmond (Virginia) Times Dispatch, 15 Sept. 2021 Did you know? Odious comes from Latin odiosus;...



extricate • \EK-struh-kayt\ • verb Extricate means "to free or remove someone or something from an entanglement or difficulty." // Firefighters extricated the passengers from the wreckage. // The wife of the accused hired an attorney to extricate herself from the allegations brought against her husband. See the entry > Examples: "The skylight has been lifted off Toland Hall to create an opening large enough to extricate the panels by crane." — Sam Whiting, The San Francisco...



restaurateur • \res-tuh-ruh-TER\ • noun A restaurateur is a person who owns or manages a restaurant. // The restaurateur has created an exquisite menu to match the elegantly renovated dining room. See the entry > Examples: "Savvy restaurateurs have been turning to milkshakes to create buzz for their brands in recent years thanks to the visual nature of maxed-out milkshakes … with their over-the-top flavors laden with indulgent toppings like churros, whole cake slices and ice cream...



amicable • \AM-ih-kuh-bul\ • adjective Amicable means "showing a polite and friendly desire to avoid disagreement and argument." // The partners maintained an amicable relationship after selling the business. See the entry > Examples: "I value the hours of amicable, nuanced conversations on complex topics with the people I have met, which always prove to be full of disagreement but also surprising amounts of agreement and understanding." — John Rochford, The Iowa State Daily...



fret • \FRET\ • verb Fret means "to become worried or concerned." // The director fretted over every detail of the show's opening night performance. See the entry > Examples: "Notre Dame had four players who needed surgery this week. … It's a troubling start that every coach frets about. — Mike Hutton, Sports Illustrated, 9 Sept. 2021 Did you know? The meat-and-potatoes meaning of fret is "to eat." The verb is used literally, as in "Moths fretted the clothing," but more often...



scion • \SYE-un\ • noun A scion is an heir or descendant of a wealthy or influential family. // As scions of the celebrity family, the siblings have options when choosing their career paths. See the entry > Examples: "Walker was the beloved, indulged scion of a wealthy East Coast family, the son of the first curator of the National Gallery and a descendant of Thomas More, the author of the 15th-century satire 'Utopia.'" — Parul Sehgal, The New York Times, 1 Aug. 2021 Did you...



cavalier • \kav-uh-LEER\ • adjective Cavalier means "having or showing no concern for important or serious matters." // The company asks employees to watch informative videos on topics such as the dangers of being cavalier in sharing information with unverified emailers. See the entry > Examples: "Another surprisingly common problem is grant applications that are poorly written. In some cases, poor writing can make your argument difficult to comprehend, and it certainly suggests a...



loll • \LAHL\ • verb Loll most often means "to droop or hang loosely." It can also mean "to act or move in a relaxed or lazy manner." // The exhausted dog plopped on the floor with its tongue lolling out. // It was a dreary Saturday, and James decided to loll around in his pajamas and catch up on his TV shows. See the entry > Examples: "Curiously, while the seals loll on the sand for a month, their metabolic capacity does not decrease." — Veronique Greenwood, The New York Times,...



intransigent • \in-TRAN-suh-junt\ • adjective Intransigent means "characterized by refusal to compromise or to abandon an extreme position or attitude." // Despite the mediator's best efforts, the opposing sides in the dispute remained intransigent. See the entry > Examples: "So we're this incredibly adaptable creature because we have these very plastic brains. And our experience imprints itself on those brains, and we become habituated to things. … And that's just the way they...



mettle • \MET-ul\ • noun Mettle refers to the ability to continue in spite of difficulties. // The contestants proved their mettle by completing the triathlon. See the entry > Examples: "Recently, 23 of Watauga's best math students met virtually to test their mettle against their peers in the annual MathCounts competition—a contest that tasks young mathematicians to tackle challenging math problems in a timed tournament format." — The Blowing Rocket (Blowing Rock, North Carolina),...



adroit • \uh-DROYT\ • adjective Adroit means "having or showing skill, cleverness, or resourcefulness in handling situations." // The CEO has been praised for his adroit management of the company's financial recovery. See the entry > Examples: "[Dominic Raab] has proved adroit in the past at defusing potentially difficult select committee sessions, notably over overseas aid cuts." — Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (UK), 31 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Adroit goes back to an Old...



cozen • \KUZ-un\ • verb Cozen means "to deceive, win over, or influence with pleasing words or actions or by trickery." // Under the guise of a made-up charity, the scammers cozened people into giving them their credit card information. // Five-year-old Mimi managed to cozen her grandmother into buying her the stuffed bear. See the entry > Examples: "In the histories, indeed, we may be amazed and grieved to read how (seemingly) Melkor deceived and cozened others, and how … Melkor...



vestige • \VESS-tij\ • noun A vestige is a trace, mark, or visible sign left by something lost or vanished. // The seconds ticked by, but the team still had a vestige of hope. // The ruins remain as vestiges of the Roman occupation of Britain. See the entry > Examples: "We see this galaxy as it was, not as it is today. It is theoretically possible the galaxy no longer exists but the light will continue toward Earth through the vacuum of space until the last vestiges reach our...



filial • \FIL-ee-ul\ • adjective Filial means "of, relating to, or befitting a person's child." // Margaret's sense of filial responsibility is only part of her motivation for carrying on her parents' business; she also loves the work. See the entry > Examples: "The text purports to be Geppetto's captivity journal…. He recounts the story of Pinocchio's creation and truancy; he records [that] he continues to make art, painting portraits of lost loves and fashioning filial...



zest • \ZEST\ • noun Zest means "keen enjoyment" or "an enjoyably exciting quality." // The young couple has a zest for travel and adventure. // The seasoning added zest to the otherwise bland dish. See the entry > Examples: "It has always seemed bizarre to me to start talking about the coming winter in August. But this is Jackson Hole, and the zest for snow never seems to end." — Jim Woodmencey, The Jackson Hole (Wyoming) News and Guide, 25 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Zest can...



parlay • \PAHR-lay\ • verb Parlay means "to turn (something) into something of greater value." // The young actor parlayed his popularity as a teen heartthrob into a successful film career. See the entry > Examples: "Since his pro debut in 1995, [Manny Pacquiao] has won world titles in a record eight weight classes and parlayed boxing fame into political clout." — Morgan Campbell, The New York Times, 22 Aug. 2021 Did you know? In gambling, parlay is used for a series of bets...



misbegotten • \miss-bih-GAH-tun\ • adjective Misbegotten means "ill-conceived." It can also mean "having an improper origin." // The celebrity's misbegotten tweet went viral. // The university's Board of Trustees rejected the misbegotten plan for building a new football stadium. See the entry > Examples: "… one of those misbegotten oddities that cheats you out of the film you imagine you'll be getting from its opening 10 minutes...." — Robbie Collin, The Daily Telegraph (London),...