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.

    eradicate

    eradicate

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 19, 2020 is: eradicate \ih-RAD-uh-kayt\ verb
    1 : to do away with as completely as if by pulling up by the roots

    2 : to pull up by the roots

    Examples:

    Widespread, global vaccination has been successful in eradicating [smallpox](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/smallpox).

    "The golf-cart fleet is fully powered by lithium batteries, food and horticultural waste is processed into fertilizer for the course, and a simple edict that every [agronomy](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agronomy) worker must handpick 15 weeds daily before quittin' time has all but eradicated the need for chemical treatments." — [Max Alder, The Golf Digest, 16 Dec. 2019](https://www.golfdigest.com/story/what-american-golf-can-learn-from-asia)

    Did you know?

    Given that eradicate first meant "to pull up by the roots," it's not surprising that the root of eradicate means, in fact, "root." Eradicate, which first turned up in English in the 16th century, comes from eradicatus, the past participle of the Latin verb eradicare. Eradicare, in turn, can be traced back to the Latin word radix, meaning "root" or "radish." Although eradicate began life as a word for literal uprooting, by the mid-17th century it had developed a metaphorical application to removing things the way one might yank an undesirable weed up by the roots. Other descendants of radix in English include [radical](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/radical) and [radish](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/radish). Even the word [root](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/root) itself is related; it comes from the same ancient word that gave Latin radix.

    • 2 min
    bootless

    bootless

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 18, 2020 is: bootless \BOOT-lus\ adjective
    : [useless](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/useless), [unprofitable](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unprofitable)

    Examples:

    "At the first glimpse of his approach, Don Benito had started, a resentful shadow swept over his face; and, as with the sudden memory of bootless rage, his white lips glued together." — [Herman Melville, Benito Cereno, 1855](https://books.google.com/books?id=wvQ7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA362#v=onepage&q&f=false)

    "We were forced out of the car for the second time that day and hustled into a jeep, unable to see where we were going. It peeled out, turning left, then right, then right again, before pulling over to the other side of the road, in a bootless attempt to mask the location of their base." — [Simon Ostrovsky, Vice, 27 May 2014](https://www.vice.com/enus/article/vbnx5a/ukrainian-troops-captured-me-and-then-asked-for-a-selfie)

    Did you know?

    This sense of bootless has nothing to do with footwear. The "boot" in this case is an obsolete noun that meant "use" or "avail." That [boot](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/boot) descended from Old English bōt and is ultimately related to our modern word [better](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/better), whose remote Germanic ancestor meant literally "of more use." Of course, English does also see the occasional use of bootless to mean simply "lacking boots," as Anne Brontë used the word in Agnes Grey (1847): "And what would their parents think of me, if they saw or heard the children rioting, hatless, bonnetless, gloveless, and bootless, in the deep soft snow?"

    • 1 min
    probity

    probity

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 17, 2020 is: probity \PROH-buh-tee\ noun
    : adherence to the highest principles and ideals : [uprightness](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uprightness)

    Examples:

    The tale of young George Washington's refusal to tell a lie after cutting down his father's cherry tree was told to us as grade schoolers to illustrate his probity.

    "The schoolmaster was often the most trusted man in America's rural school districts. While some of his students might hold different opinions, the schoolmaster's probity, impartiality and wisdom were valued by the community." — [Dan Krieger, The San Luis Obispo (California) Tribune, 21 Sept. 2019](https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/times-past/article235342662.html)

    Did you know?

    Probity and its synonyms honesty, honor, and integrity all mean uprightness of character or action, with some slight differences in emphasis. [Honesty](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/honesty) implies a refusal to lie or deceive in any way. [Honor](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/honor) suggests an active or anxious regard for the standards of one's profession, calling, or position. [Integrity](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integrity) implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility, or pledge. Probity, which descends from Latin probus, meaning "honest," implies tried and proven honesty or integrity.

    • 1 min
    stipulate

    stipulate

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 16, 2020 is: stipulate \STIP-yuh-layt\ verb
    1 : to make an agreement or covenant to do or forbear something : [contract](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contract#h2)

    2 : to demand an express term in an agreement

    3 : to specify as a condition or requirement (as of an agreement or offer)

    4 : to give a guarantee of

    Examples:

    "The county charter stipulates that county council appoint four citizens—two from each of the major political parties—to the election board. Those four then select a fifth member, who may be of any political affiliation, to serve as chairperson." — [Eric Mark, The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), 9 Jan. 2020](https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/county-election-board-seeks-chairperson-1.2581035)

    "If Zendaya's grandfather inspired Rue's hoodie, it was her grandmother who inspired her second collection in collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy x Zendaya.…  She was also motivated by the diversity of body types in her family tree to stipulate that the lines she works on also come in plus sizes…." — [Jessica Chia, Allure, 21 Nov. 2019](https://www.allure.com/story/zendaya-cover-interview-2020)

    Did you know?

    Like many terms used in the legal profession, stipulate has its roots in Latin. It derives from stipulatus, the past participle of stipulari, a verb meaning "to demand a guarantee (from a prospective debtor)." Stipulate has been a part of the English language since the 17th century. In Roman law, oral contracts were deemed valid only if they followed a proper question-and-answer format; stipulate was sometimes used specifically of this same process of contract making, though it also could be used more generally for any means of making a contract or agreement. The "to specify as a condition or requirement" meaning of stipulate also dates to the 17th century, and is the sense of the word most often encountered in current use.

    • 2 min
    vinaceous

    vinaceous

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 15, 2020 is: vinaceous \vye-NAY-shus\ adjective
    : of the color of red wine

    Examples:

    The dove had a slight vinaceous tinge on its breast and tail.

    "My Warwickshire venison was even better…; the seared loin was medium-rare, with a gorgeous vinaceous colour at its centre." — [Zoe Williams, The Telegraph (London), 19 Feb. 2012](https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/restaurants/9074938/Loves-Birmingham-restaurant-review.html)

    Did you know?

    The first recorded evidence of vinaceous in English dates from 1678, shortly before the accession of [Mary II](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Mary%20II). If ever the queen used vinaceous, she was probably in the confines of her landscaped garden, admiring the vinaceous shades of petals or studying the vinaceous cap of a mushroom; since its beginning, vinaceous has flourished in the earthy lexicon of horticulture and [mycology](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mycology). It has also taken flight in the ornithological world as a descriptive word for the unique red coloring of some birds, like the vinaceous [purple finch](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purple%20finch).

    • 1 min
    Cupid

    Cupid

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 14, 2020 is: Cupid \KYOO-pid\ noun
    1 : the Roman god of erotic love

    2 not capitalized : a figure that represents Cupid as a naked usually winged boy often holding a bow and arrow

    Examples:

    I purchased a large Valentine's Day card decorated with hearts and cupids.

    "St. Clair said the library won't actively purchase more cake pan designs, but would welcome additional holiday themed designs such as a Christmas tree, a jack o'lantern, cupid or a witch." — [Pamela Thompson, The Ashland (Nebraska) Gazette, 13 Dec. 2019](https://www.wahoo-ashland-waverly.com/ashland/news/ashland-library-lends-out-more-than-books/article5a494466-1de4-11ea-8b4d-7bda91dc8862.html)

    Did you know?

    According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of [Mercury](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercury), the messenger god, and [Venus](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Venus), the goddess of love. In Roman times, the winged "messenger of love" was sometimes depicted in armor, but no one is sure if that was intended as a sarcastic comment on the similarities between warfare and romance, or a reminder that love conquers all. Cupid was generally seen as a good spirit who brought happiness to all, but his matchmaking could cause mischief. Venus wasn't above using her son's power to get revenge on her rivals, and she once plotted to have the beautiful mortal Psyche fall in love with a despicable man. But the plan backfired: Cupid fell in love with Psyche, and she eventually became his immortal wife.

    • 2 min

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