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 for October 3, 2023 is: faze \FAYZ\ verb
To faze someone is to disturb their composure. Faze is a synonym of [disconcert](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disconcert) and [daunt](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/daunt).
// My grandfather was a [stolid](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stolid) individual who was not easily fazed by life's troubles.
[See the entry >](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/faze)
"The Patriots apparently weren’t fazed that their 6-2, 185-pound receiver reportedly had the thinnest wrists in the 2022 draft at 6⅛ inches." — Ben Volin, The Boston Globe, 8 Aug. 2023
Did you know?
If you're hazy on faze, let us filter out the fuzz. Faze (not to be confused with [phase](https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/phase-vs-faze)) first appeared in English in the early 1800s with the same meaning we give it today: to disturb the composure of. Its appearance came centuries after the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer were penned, but both of those authors were familiar with the word's ancient parent, the now-rare verb feeze, which has been in use since the days of Old English (in the form fēsian), when it meant "to drive away" or "to put to flight." By the 1400s, it was also being used with the meaning "to frighten or put into a state of alarm," a sense close to that of the modern faze. While it is possible to use faze in constructions like "I felt fazed by the prospect of starting at a new school," it more often appears with negation, as in "it didn’t faze her a bit” or “nothing fazes him."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 2, 2023 is: confection \kun-FEK-shun\ noun
Confection usually refers to a sweet prepared food item made to be eaten as a treat, but it can also refer to the act or process of [confecting](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/confect) something—in other words, preparing or assembling it. In addition, confection can refer to a medical preparation usually made with sugar, syrup, or honey; a work of fine or elaborate craftmanship; or a light but entertaining theatrical, cinematic, or literary work.
// Their mouths watered at the sight of the delicious cakes and other confections.
[See the entry >](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/confection)
“He’s famous for liking corn, but right now, all Tariq can think about is cotton candy. The spun sugary confection was awaiting him in the kitchen, an award he said was promised to him by his mother Jessica for sitting through an interview with USA TODAY.” — Eric Lagatta, USA Today, 11 June 2023
Did you know?
As a wise blue monster with a famous sweet tooth once noted, “c” is for cookie. And sure, that’s good enough for us, but sometimes the moment calls for a wide variety of delectables, not just cookies. In such times, you might remember that “c” is also for confection. Confection is a word that refers to something [confected](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/confect)—that is, put together—from several different ingredients or elements. Often confections are sweet and edible, but confection can also be used to refer to a finely worked piece of craftsmanship. In other words, the lacy box containing chocolate confections can be a confection itself. Tracing back to the Latin verb conficere (“to carry out, perform, make, bring about, collect, bring to completion”), confection entered Middle English as the word confeccioun, meaning “preparation by mixing ingredients; something prepared by mixing, such as a medicine or dish of food,” and has since taken on additional, often figurative meanings in English in the ensuing centuries, as in “the beloved musical confection ‘C is for Cookie.’”
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 1, 2023 is: echt \EKHT\ adjective
Echt is an adjective used mostly in formal or literary speech and writing as a synonym of authentic, genuine, and true.
// An echt New Englander wouldn’t dream of putting tomatoes in their clam chowder.
[See the entry >](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/echt)
“There is a version of ‘Tao’—call it the best piece of theater we never saw—that would have featured [Philip] Glass playing piano alongside the action onstage. But early in development, the idea was shot down by his manager; Glass just didn’t have the time. But his score is a substantial, crucial contribution. This is late Glass—far from the echt Minimalist sound of ‘Glassworks’…” — Joshua Barone, The New York Times, 31 Mar. 2023
Did you know?
When it comes to uncommon-but-nifty words, echt is [true-blue](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/true-blue), [the real deal](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/the-real-deal), [the genuine article](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/the-genuine-article). (Actually it’s an adjective, not an [article](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/article), of course—but you get the drift.) The earliest known use of echt—a synonym of true and genuine—in English is credited to playwright [George Bernard Shaw](https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Bernard-Shaw), who used the word in a 1916 journal article. Shaw borrowed echt directly from German, but since then others have also adapted the Yiddish word ekht, meaning “true to form.” Both the German echt and Yiddish ekht share the same Middle High German source, both contributed to the English echt, and both, therefore, are the real (etymological) [McCoy](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/McCoy).
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 30, 2023 is: palmy \PAH-mee\ adjective
Palmy describes something that is [flourishing](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flourishing) or marked by prosperity, or something that is abounding in or bearing [palms](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/palm).
// They knew her in her palmy days when she was living high.
// They moved to a palmy suburb with lots of new homes and parks.
[See the entry >](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/palmy)
“The newspaper industry will survive, and golfers are in no danger of becoming an extinct species. Still, in both cases, the palmy days are probably long gone. Advertising revenues that largely sustained the press have been diverted to the upstart media of a digitized world, while the leisurely pace of golf proves increasingly out of step with the modern hurly-burly.” — James Gill, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 6 May 2022
Did you know?
Our language became a smidge more prosperous the day palmy first waved “hello.” As the palm branch has traditionally been used as a symbol of victory, so did the word [palm](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/palm) come to mean “victory” or “triumph” in the late 14th century, thanks to the likes of [Geoffrey Chaucer](https://www.britannica.com/biography/Geoffrey-Chaucer). Centuries later, William Shakespeare would employ palmy as a synonym for [triumphant](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/triumphant) or flourishing in the tragedy Hamlet when the character Horatio speaks of the “palmy state of Rome / A little ere the mightiest Julius fell.” That use remains somewhat common, and English speakers have since dug back into palmy’s [vegetal](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vegetal) roots to develop the also familiar sense of “abounding in or bearing palms,” as in “palmy beaches.”
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 29, 2023 is: coax \KOHKS\ verb
To coax a person or animal is to influence or persuade them to do something by talking in a gentle and friendly way. Coax can also be used when someone is working to bring about something desired with great perseverance and usually with considerable effort.
// It took almost an hour to coax the cat down from the tree.
// Our outdoor survival instructor taught us how to coax a fire to burn by blowing on it.
[See the entry >](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coax)
“We glimpse their lives through the eyes of Eva (Flomaria Papadaki), a young newcomer who’s joined the dance troupe after fleeing small-town life in Poland. … Eva is more inhibited than the others, and Kalia manages to slowly coax her out of her shell, showing her the ropes of a profession offering escape for both the dancers and their drunken spectators.” — Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Aug. 2023
Did you know?
In days of yore, if you wanted to call someone a sap or a dupe, the word cokes was it, what you wanted, the real thing: to make a cokes of someone was to make a fool of them. This now-obsolete noun is believed to be the source of the verb coax. However, the earliest known sense of the verb, appearing in the late 16th century, was not “to make a fool of” (this meaning came later) but rather something sweeter: “to pet or caress; to treat lovingly.” As such an act of coaxing (or “cokesing”) was sometimes done for personal gain or favor, the word soon came to be used to refer to influencing or persuading people by kind acts or words. By the 19th century, the spelling cokes had fallen out of use, along with the meanings “to make a fool of” and “to treat lovingly.”
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 28, 2023 is: fervid \FER-vid\ adjective
Fervid is a somewhat formal word describing people or things that express, or are expressive of, strong feelings.
// Many of the movie franchise’s most fervid fans camped outside of theaters for days leading up to the new installment’s opening night.
[See the entry >](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fervid)
“Unabashed pop groups with fervid teenage followings tend to get trivialized, at least in the media. They’re dismissed as being slick and calculated and superficial. But there’s a story in ‘Wham!,’ the new Netflix documentary about the quintessential pop duo of the 1980s, that testifies to what a chancy and audacious artist George Michael was even back in his teen-idol days.” — Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 8 July 2023
Did you know?
If you’ve ever felt as if your emotions were going to boil over, whether you were overly [bubbly](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bubbly) or, less happily, you needed to simmer down over something, you should have no trouble understanding the roots of fervid. Fervid comes from the Latin verb fervēre, meaning “to boil” or “to glow,” as well as, by extension, “to seethe” or “to be roused.” In English, this root gave us not only fervid but the similar-sounding and practically synonymous word [fervent](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fervent). But while fervid usually suggests warm emotion that is expressed in a spontaneous or feverish manner (as in “fervid basketball fans”), fervent is reserved for a kind of emotional warmth that is steady and sincere (as in “a fervent belief in human kindness”). Fervid fans of [kimchi](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kimchi) or [sauerkraut](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sauerkraut) (or fervent followers of anything fermented), may appreciate that fervēre is also the root of [ferment](https://www.merriam-webster.com/grammar/ferment-vs-foment-usage-difference).