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 March 1, 2021 is: gazette \guh-ZET\ noun
1 : a paper that is printed and distributed usually daily or weekly and that contains news, articles of opinion, features, and advertising : [newspaper](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/newspaper)
2 : an official journal
3 British : an announcement in an official gazette
The weekly gazette includes a list of the names of students who have made local schools' honor rolls.
"French media group Lagardere, the owner of Paris Match magazine, has received a 465 million euro ($564 million) state-guaranteed loan to help it cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic, the government’s official gazette said on Sunday." — [Reuters, 3 Jan. 2021](https://www.reuters.com/article/lagardere-loans/french-media-group-lagardere-gets-465-mln-euro-state-guaranteed-loan-idUSL1N2JE03I)
Did you know?
You are probably familiar with the word gazette from its use in the names of a number of newspapers, but the original Gazettes were a series of bulletins published in England in the 17th and early 18th centuries. These official journals contained notices of government appointments and promotions, as well as items like bankruptcies, property transfers, and engagements. In British English, gazette can also refer to the kind of announcement that one might find in such a publication. It can also be used as a verb meaning "to announce or publish in a gazette." The word derives via French from Italian gazetta. The related word [gazetteer](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gazetteer), which we now use for a dictionary of place names, once meant "journalist" or "publicist."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 28, 2021 is: deference \DEF-uh-runss\ noun
: respect and esteem due a superior or an elder; also : affected or [ingratiating](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ingratiating) regard for another's wishes
"The 41-page filing answered government arguments that appeals rules give trial judges a lot of deference to make findings about facts, such as whether a juror is following court rules." — [Steve Patterson, The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Florida), 19 Jan. 2021](https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/courts/2021/01/19/appeal-religious-freedom-corrine-browns-lawyers-tell-court/4203395001/)
"'Where once he was a youthful firebrand,' Mr. Peterson said, Mr. Museveni 'now speaks as an elder, reminding his people about the virtues of the old culture, demanding deference, excoriating the decadence of the young.'" — [Abdi Latif Dahir, The New York Times, 16 Jan. 2021](https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/16/world/africa/uganda-election-results.html)
Did you know?
We need to be specific when we tell you that deference and defer both derive from the Medieval Latin dēferre, which means "to convey, show respect, submit to a decision," because there are two defers in the English language. The [defer](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defer#h2) related to deference is typically used with to in contexts having to do either with allowing someone else to decide or choose something, as in "I'll defer to the experts," or with agreeing to follow someone else's decision, wish, etc., as when a court defers to precedent. The other [defer](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/defer#h1) traces to the Latin differre, meaning "to carry away in varying directions, spread abroad, postpone, delay, be unlike or distinct." That defer is typically used in contexts having to do with delaying or postponing something, as in "a willingness to defer the decision until next month."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 27, 2021 is: turbid \TER-bid\ adjective
1 a : thick or opaque with or as with roiled sediment
b : heavy with smoke or mist
2 a : deficient in clarity or purity : [foul](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/foul), [muddy](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/muddy)
b : characterized by or producing obscurity (as of mind or emotions)
The speed of the water flowing over the dam becomes obvious only when one observes the turbid water roiling below.
"Muddy, nutrient-rich lake water can harm the river, making it turbid and feeding algae blooms. Plus, it just looks nasty." — [Amy Bennett Williams, The Naples (Florida) Daily News, 21 Oct. 2020](https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjFuoyalrjuAhWgElkFHX7uDTgQFjAAegQIARAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.news-press.com%2Fstory%2Ftech%2Fscience%2Fenvironment%2F2020%2F10%2F21%2Fworrisomely-high-lake-o-levels-forced-water-managers-make-discharges-caloosahatchee-st-lucie%2F3659526001%2F&usg=AOvVaw2CoMK3HIPdi1zs8Iojm1TL)
Did you know?
Turbid and [turgid](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/turgid) (which means "swollen or distended" or "overblown, pompous, or bombastic") are frequently mistaken for one another, and it's no wonder. Not only do the two words differ by only a letter, they are often used in contexts where either word could fit. For example, a flooded stream can be simultaneously cloudy and swollen, and badly written prose might be both unclear and grandiloquent. Nevertheless, the distinction between these two words, however fine, is an important one for conveying exact shades of meaning, so it's a good idea to keep them straight. Turbid, like its relative [turbulent](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/turbulent), comes ultimately from the Latin noun turba, meaning "confusion" or "crowd."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 26, 2021 is: megillah \muh-GHIL-uh\ noun
1 slang : a long involved story or account
2 slang a : an elaborate, complicated production or sequence of events
b : everything involved in what is under consideration : [ball of wax](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ball%20of%20wax)
"Well, one fine day last spring, I was laying off for a week at the Americana in New York when Solly phones me—a megillah about this inspiration that he and some other bookers had that morning in the steam room." — S. J. Perelman, The New Yorker, 18 Aug. 1965
"We'll have more on 'Manbird' when the whole megillah drops September 18, but for now, the buoyant first single of the same name is available to stream." — [Aaron Davis, The Sacramento (California) Bee, 25 Aug. 2020](https://www.sacbee.com/entertainment/article245244645.html)
Did you know?
Megillah derives from the Yiddish megile, which itself comes from the Hebrew word mĕgillāh, meaning "scroll" or "volume." (Mĕgillāh is especially likely to be used in reference to the Book of Esther, which is read aloud at [Purim](http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purim) celebrations.) It makes sense, then, that when megillah first appeared in English in the mid-20th century, it referred to a story that was so long (and often tedious or complicated) that it was reminiscent of the length of the mĕgillāh scrolls. The Hebrew word is serious, but the Yiddish megile can be somewhat playful, and our megillah has also inherited that lightheartedness.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 25, 2021 is: slipshod \SLIP-SHAHD\ adjective
1 a : wearing loose shoes or slippers
b : [down at the heel](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/down%20at%20the%20heel) : [shabby](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shabby)
2 : [careless](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/careless), [slovenly](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slovenly)
"'What's worse is the rules about misinformation on social media are confusing and inconsistent, and enforcement of those policies is slipshod at best,' says Bill Fitzgerald, a privacy and technology researcher in CR's Digital Lab." — [Consumer Reports, 13 Aug. 2020](https://www.consumerreports.org/social-media/social-media-misinformation-policies/)
"But Ryan Day couldn't help but harp on a slipshod second half in which the Buckeyes were outscored by 10 points and outgained by 126 yards." — [Kyle Rowland, The Toledo (Ohio) Blade, 9 Nov. 2020](https://www.toledoblade.com/sports/ohio-state/2020/11/09/slipshod-performance-against-rutgers-leaves-ryan-day-miffed/stories/20201108105#:~:text=But%20Ryan%20Day%20couldn't,didn't%20play%20very%20great.)
Did you know?
The word [shod](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shod) is the past tense form of the verb [shoe](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shoe#h2), meaning "to furnish with a shoe"; hence, we can speak of shoeing horses and horses that have been shod or shodden. When the word slipshod was first used in the late 1500s, it meant "wearing loose shoes or slippers"—such slippers were once called slip-shoes—and later it was used to describe shoes that were falling apart. By the early 1800s, slipshod was used more generally as a synonym for shabby—in 1818, Sir Walter Scott wrote about "the half-bound and slip-shod volumes of the circulating library." The association with shabbiness then shifted to an association with sloppiness, and the word was used to mean "careless" or "slovenly."
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 24, 2021 is: fathom \FA-thum\ verb
1 : to make a searching exploratory investigation : [probe](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/probe#h2)
2 : to take [soundings](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/soundings#h2)
3 : to measure by a [sounding line](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sounding%20line)
4 : to penetrate and come to understand
Even those close to him can't always fathom why he repeatedly risks his life to climb the world's tallest mountains.
"When the coronavirus pandemic struck, we expected the real estate business to hit a brick wall and never fathomed the possibility of 2020 becoming a record year for the Houston market." — [Richard Miranda, quoted in The Houston Agent Magazine, 14 Jan. 2021](https://houstonagentmagazine.com/2021/01/14/houston-housing-market-set-new-records-in-2020-says-har/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CWhen%20the%20coronavirus%20pandemic%20struck,Miranda%20in%20a%20press%20release.)
Did you know?
Fathom comes from Old English fæthm, meaning "outstretched arms." The noun [fathom](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fathom#h1), which now commonly refers to a measure (especially of depth) of six feet, was originally used for the distance, fingertip to fingertip, created by stretching one's arms straight out from the sides of the body. In one of its earliest uses, the verb fathom was a synonym of our modern [embrace](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/embrace): to fathom someone was to clasp the person in your arms. By the 1600s fathom had taken to the seas, as the verb was used to mean "to measure by a [sounding line](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sounding%20line)." At the same time, the verb also developed senses synonymous with [probe](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/probe#h2) or [investigate](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/investigate), and it is now frequently used to refer to the act of getting to the bottom of something, figuratively speaking.
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