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.

    operose

    operose

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 22, 2020 is: operose \AH-puh-rohss\ adjective
    : [tedious](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tedious), [wearisome](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wearisome)

    Examples:

    "Reading this biography reminded me that Lawrence's prose, though old-fashioned and a bit operose, is full of beautiful things." — [Matthew Walther, The Spectator, 11 Oct. 2014](https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/secretive-arrogant-and-reckless-the-young-t-e-lawrence-began-life-as-he-meant-to-go-on)

    "After several operose months of the tear-out and build-up process, Brandon Stupka, the one who has been working on the remodel project…, has finally opened his doors for business…." — The McPherson (Kansas) Sentinel, 17 Apr. 2013

    Did you know?

    Operose comes from the Latin operōsus, which has the meaning of "diligent," "painstaking" or "laborious." That word combines opera, meaning "activity," "effort," or "work," with -ōsus—the Latin equivalent of the English [-ose](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/-ose) and [-ous](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/-ous) suffixes, meaning "full of" or "abounding in." In its earliest uses, in the mid-16th century, the word was used to describe people who are industrious or painstaking in their efforts. About a century later, the word was being applied as it more commonly is today: as an adjective describing tasks and undertakings requiring much time and effort.

    • 1 min
    juncture

    juncture

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 21, 2020 is: juncture \JUNK-cher\ noun
    1 : a point of time; especially : one made critical by a concurrence of circumstances

    2 : [joint](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/joint), [connection](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/connection)

    3 : an instance of joining : [junction](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/junction)

    Examples:

    "At this juncture in the editing process," said Philip, "it is important that all facts have been double-checked and sources verified."

    "'Palm Springs' further cements [Andy] Samberg as one of the funniest talents in comedy today. From cult-classics such as 'Hot Rod' and 'Popstar' to the hit sitcom, 'Brooklyn-Nine-Nine,' his comedic chops are hall-of-fame-level at this juncture." — [Austin Ellis, The Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, Iowa), 17 July 2020](https://www.telegraphherald.com/news/features/articleb4c5da20-655f-5b8b-8413-7624c4505670.html)

    Did you know?

    Juncture has many relatives—both obvious and obscure—in English. Juncture derives from the Latin verb jungere ("to join"), which gave us not only [join](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/join) and [junction](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/junction) but also [conjugal](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conjugal) ("relating to marriage") and [junta](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/junta) ("a group of persons controlling a government"). Jungere also has distant etymological connections to [joust](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/joust), [jugular](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jugular), [juxtapose](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/juxtapose), [yoga](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yoga), and [yoke](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yoke). The use of juncture in English dates back to the 14th century. Originally, the word meant "a place where two or more things are joined," but by the 17th century it could also be used of an important point in time or of a stage in a process or activity.

    • 1 min
    ubiquitous

    ubiquitous

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 20, 2020 is: ubiquitous \yoo-BIK-wuh-tuss\ adjective
    : existing or being everywhere at the same time : constantly encountered : [widespread](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/widespread)

    Examples:

    "Within China, WeChat is ubiquitous, serving as an all-in-one app that's important for making payments and even for displaying someone's coronavirus test results." — [David Ingram, NBCNews.com, 7 Aug. 2020](https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/internet/welcome-splinternet-trump-adds-fractures-worldwide-web-n1236203)

    "Without companies that developed front-facing smartphone cameras for luxury smartphones, we never would have had the now ubiquitous selfie camera." — [Shira Ovide, The New York Times, 13 Aug. 2020](https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/13/technology/qanon-internet-companies.html)

    Did you know?

    Ubiquitous comes to us from the noun [ubiquity](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ubiquity), meaning "presence everywhere or in many places simultaneously." Both words are ultimately derived from the Latin word for "everywhere," which is ubique. Ubiquitous, which has often been used with a touch of exaggeration to describe those things that it seems like you can't go a day without encountering, has become a more widespread and popular word than ubiquity. It may not quite be ubiquitous, but if you keep your eyes and ears open, you're apt to encounter the word ubiquitous quite a bit.

    • 1 min
    fountainhead

    fountainhead

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 19, 2020 is: fountainhead \FOUN-tun-hed\ noun
    1 : a spring that is the source of a stream

    2 : principal source : [origin](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/origin)

    Examples:

    "For all that Paradise Valley represents as a fountainhead of visual awe, the living is not easy for those who steward its most coveted, valuable and threatened asset—its open space, [Whitney Tilt] asserts." — [Todd Wilkinson, The Mountain Journal (Bozeman, Montana), 30 July 2020](https://mountainjournal.org/montana-ranchers-face-showdown-with-diseased-elk-in-setting-for-tv-show-yellowstone)

    "With the advancements in technology, there is an unprecedented demand for electronic products that are portable or more compact. This trend has been a fountainhead for most of the 'smart' devices that we see today, such as fit bands, smart bulbs, and smart watches." — [Business Wire, 10 June 2020](https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200610005041/en/Identifying-Key-End-User-Challenges-Micromaterials-Testing-Equipment)

    Did you know?

    When it first entered English in the late 16th century, fountainhead was used only in a literal sense—to refer to the source of a stream. By the 17th century, however, it was already beginning to be used figuratively in reference to any original or primary source. In his 1854 work Walden, Henry David Thoreau used the word in its figurative sense, while paying full homage to its literal meaning as well: "Morning air! If men will not drink of this at the fountainhead of the day, why, then, we must even bottle up some and sell it in the shops, for the benefit of those who have lost their subscription ticket to morning time in this world."

    • 1 min
    delve

    delve

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 18, 2020 is: delve \DELV\ verb
    1 :  to dig or labor with or as if with a [spade](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spade#h1)

    2 a : to make a careful or detailed search for information

    b : to examine a subject in detail

    Examples:

    "'My brother and I,' said he, 'were, as you may imagine, much excited as to the treasure which my father had spoken of. For weeks and for months we dug and delved in every part of the garden, without discovering its whereabouts.'" — [Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four, 1890](https://www.google.com/books/edition/TheSignoftheFour/8kw6AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22For+weeks+and+for+months+we+dug%22&pg=PA47&printsec=frontcover)

    "They'll soon release a second short, Climate Crisis, and Why We Should Panic. It will be voiced by Kiera Knightley, and delves into the cause of climate change and why governments must enter crisis mode to handle the issue." — [Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone, 13 Aug. 2020](https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/naomie-harris-brian-eno-extinction-emergency-1043435/)

    Did you know?

    We must dig deep into the English language's past to find the origins of delve. The verb traces to the early [Old English](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Old%20English) word delfan and is related to the [Old High German](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Old%20High%20German) word telban, meaning "to dig." For centuries, there was only delving—no digging—because [dig](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dig) didn't exist until much later; it appears in early [Middle English](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Middle%20English). Is the phrase "dig and delve" (as in the line "eleven, twelve, dig and delve," from the nursery rhyme that begins "one, two, buckle my shoe") redundant? Not necessarily. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in some local uses, dig was the term for working with a [mattock](http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mattock) (a tool similar to an [adze](http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adze) or a pick), while delve was reserved for work done using a [spade](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spade#h1).

    • 1 min
    limpid

    limpid

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 17, 2020 is: limpid \LIM-pid\ adjective
    1 a : marked by transparency : [pellucid](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pellucid)

    b : clear and simple in style

    2 : absolutely serene and untroubled

    Examples:

    "She leaned toward him, entreaty in her eyes, and as he looked at her delicate face and into her pure, limpid eyes, as of old he was struck with his own unworthiness." — [Jack London, Martin Eden, 1909](https://books.google.com/books?id=rKPPAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA225#v=onepage&q&f=false)

    "Last summer, the edges of the Greenland ice sheet experienced up to three extra months of melting weather. Limpid blue pools formed on its surface; floods of melt gushed off the edge of the continent…." — [Madeleine Stone, National Geographic, 7 July 2020](https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/2020/07/a-heat-wave-thawed-siberias-tundra-now-its-on-fire)

    Did you know?

    Since around 1600, limpid has been used in English to describe things that have the soft clearness of pure water. The aquatic connection is not incidental; language scholars believe that limpid probably traces to lympha, a Latin word meaning "water." That same Latin root is also the source of the word [lymph](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lymph), the English name for the pale liquid that helps maintain the body's fluid balance and that removes bacteria from tissues.

    • 1 min

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