10 episodes

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.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day Merriam-Webster

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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.

    sublimate

    sublimate

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 26, 2020 is: sublimate \SUB-luh-mayt\ verb
    1 : to pass or cause to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state

    2 : to divert the expression of (an instinctual desire or impulse) from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable

    Examples:

    "These ice crystals are temporary from day to day. They develop at night when the air is at its coldest but melt or sublimate away during the day in warmer air or sunlight." — [Robert Dryja, The Los Alamos (New Mexico) Daily Post, 29 Nov. 2019](https://www.ladailypost.com/content/amateur-naturalist-ice-crystals-valle-grande)

    "She stalks. She hacks. She grimace-smiles.... She polishes silver with barely-contained fury.... She rides horseback in a manner that announces a ferocious, yet sublimated, desire." — [Dave White, The Wrap, 20 Apr. 2017](https://www.thewrap.com/unforgettable-review-katherine-heigl-rosario-dawson/)

    Did you know?

    To sublimate is to change the form, but not the essence. Physically speaking, it means to transform solid to vapor; psychologically, it means changing the outlet, or means, of expression from something base and inappropriate to something more positive or acceptable. The word sublimate comes from the Latin verb sublimare, which means "to lift up" or "to raise" and which is also the ancestor of our [sublime](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sublime). Sublimate itself once meant "to elevate to a place of dignity or honor" or "to give a more elevated character to," but these meanings are now obsolete.

    • 1 min
    lackluster

    lackluster

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 25, 2020 is: lackluster \LAK-luss-ter\ adjective
    : lacking in sheen, brilliance, or vitality : [dull](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dull), [mediocre](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mediocre)

    Examples:

    In spite of its owner's hard work, the coffee shop was forced to close due to lackluster sales.

    "Say what you will about the Cardinals' record this season, but they've shown fight and played with effort all year other than a lackluster performance during a 34–7 blowout by the Rams." — [Bob McManaman, The Arizona Republic, 18 Dec. 2019](https://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-arizona-republic/20191218/281951724714184)

    Did you know?

    In its earliest uses, lackluster (also spelled lacklustre) usually described eyes that were dull or lacking in brightness, as in "a lackluster stare." Later, it came to describe other things whose sheen had been removed; Charles Dickens, in his 1844 novel Martin Chuzzlewit, writes of the faded image of the dragon on the sign outside a village alehouse: "many a wintry storm of rain, snow, sleet, and hail, had changed his colour from a gaudy blue to a faint lack-lustre shade of grey." In addition to "a glow or sheen," [luster](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/luster) can refer to a superficial attractiveness or appearance of excellence; it follows then that lackluster is often used as a synonym for [unspectacular](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unspectacular).

    • 1 min
    euphoria

    euphoria

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 24, 2020 is: euphoria \yoo-FOR-ee-uh\ noun
    : a feeling of well-being or [elation](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elation)

    Examples:

    "In February 2014, Xenia gave birth to their daughter, Ella. Ben still recalls the euphoria of watching the nurse place their newborn on Xenia's chest. He still can't quite believe the song that played on the operating room radio, the refrain resounding in that moment: God only knows what I'd be without you." — [Caitlin Gibson, The Washington Post Magazine, 9 Dec. 2019](https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2019/12/09/what-its-like-create-new-life-when-one-parent-is-dying/?arc404=true)

    "The floor became a dance-off—in one corner, dozens of girls put all their bags and backpacks in one giant pile, so nobody had to worry where their stuff was, and then danced around the pile in a circle that was really moving to behold, an example of how a Harry Styles concert creates crucial moments of utopian unity and shared euphoria." — [Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, 14 Dec. 2019](https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-live-reviews/harry-styles-fine-line-live-stevie-nicks-forum-review-sheffield-927206/)

    Did you know?

    Health and happiness are often linked, sometimes even in etymologies. Nowadays euphoria generally refers to happiness, but it derives from euphoros, a Greek word that means "healthy." Given that root, it's not surprising that in its original English uses euphoria was a medical term. Its entry in an early 18th-century dictionary explains it as "the well-bearing of the Operation of a Medicine; that is, when the Sick Person finds himself eas'd or reliev'd by it." Modern physicians still use the term, but they aren't likely to prescribe something that will cause it. In contemporary medicine and psychology, euphoria can describe abnormal or inappropriate feelings such as those caused by an illicit drug or an illness.

    • 2 min
    outlandish

    outlandish

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 23, 2020 is: outlandish \out-LAN-dish\ adjective
    1 : of or relating to another country : [foreign](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/foreign)

    2 a : strikingly out of the ordinary : [bizarre](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bizarre)

    b : exceeding proper or reasonable limits or standards

    3 : remote from civilization

    Examples:

    "In a letter sent to his mother … [T.S. Eliot] wrote, 'I really think that I have far more influence on English letters than any other American has ever had, unless it be Henry James.' It's an outlandish claim, even if one allows for the kind of [hyperbole](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperbole) to be found in a letter meant to impress one's parents." — [Kevin Dettmar, The New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2019](https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/a-hundred-years-of-t-s-eliots-tradition-and-the-individual-talent)

    "Seana Benz and Jimmy Johansmeyer create a hilarious series of outlandish costumes for the Carnegie sequence, which Woodall showcases in rapid succession." — [Gene Terruso, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 Dec. 2019](https://www.inquirer.com/news/florence-foster-jenkins-play-souvenir-act-ii-ambler-review-20191215.html)

    Did you know?

    In olden times, English speakers used the phrase "outlandish man" to refer to a foreigner—or, one who came from an [outland](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/outland), which originally meant "a foreign land." From here, outlandish broadened in usage from a word meaning "from another land" to one describing something unfamiliar or strange. Dress was a common early target for the adjective; English novelist Henry Fielding, in Tom Jones (1749), writes of a woman who was "drest in one of your outlandish Garments." Nowadays, the word can be applied to anything that strikes us as out of the ordinary, from bizarre conspiracy theories to exaggerated boasting.

    • 2 min
    nurture

    nurture

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 22, 2020 is: nurture \NER-cher\ verb
    1 : to supply with [nourishment](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nourishment)

    2 : [educate](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/educate)

    3 : to further the development of : [foster](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/foster#h2)

    Examples:

    The mayor pushed for tax credits for small businesses as a way to nurture economic growth.

    "Nurture your marriage. While it's important to keep the kids happy, it's also important to set aside time for you and your spouse." — [K. Lori Hanson, The Miami Herald, 17 Dec. 2019](https://www.miamiherald.com/living/health-fitness/article238450693.html)

    Did you know?

    It's no coincidence that nurture is a synonym of [nourish](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nourish)—both are derived from the Latin verb nutrire, meaning "to suckle" or "to nourish." The noun [nurture](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nurture#h1) first appeared in English in the 14th century, but the verb didn't arrive until the 15th century. Originally, the verb nurture meant "to feed or nourish." The sense meaning "to further the development of" didn't come into being until the end of the 18th century. Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, is credited with first giving life to that sense in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792): "Public spirit must be nurtured by private virtue," she wrote. Other nutrire descendants in English include [nutrient](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nutrient), [nutritious](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nutritious), [nutriment](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nutriment), [nutrition](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nutrition), and, of course, [nourishment](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nourishment).

    • 1 min
    bonhomie

    bonhomie

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 21, 2020 is: bonhomie \bah-nuh-MEE\ noun
    : good-natured easy friendliness

    Examples:

    "For older athletes, the bonhomie among teammates and rivals who have spent years sprinting or skating together, or boxing one another out under the rim, is often as important as the exercise. Many have become friends off the court, sharing meals and socializing after games." — [Robert Weisman, The Boston Globe, 4 Dec. 2019](https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/12/04/geezer-jocks-for-growing-ranks-older-athletes-there-giving-game/jE3at8FAq6DRWvSdwjaJ5M/story.html)

    "Throughout its history, the hugely successful TV show 'Downton Abbey' warmly embraced the tradition of the Christmas episode, a seasonally themed special that continued the endless narrative but with a particularly romantic and sentimental nod to what audiences wanted on Christmas Day, a time of familial togetherness and bonhomie." — [Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune, 19 Nov. 2019 ](https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/reviews/ct-ent-wickhams-christmas-review-1120-20191119-lkqyvsjo5bc25n3wkbiyb4ldfy-story.html)

    Did you know?

    English speakers borrowed bonhomie from French, where the word was created from bonhomme, which means "good-natured man" and is itself a composite of two other French words: bon, meaning "good," and homme, meaning "man." That French compound traces to two Latin terms, bonus (meaning "good") and homo (meaning either "man" or "human being"). English speakers have warmly embraced bonhomie and its meaning, but we have also anglicized the pronunciation in a way that may make native French speakers cringe. (We hope they will be good-natured about it!)

    • 1 min

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