Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 22, 2017 is:

obliterate • \uh-BLIT-uh-rayt\  • verb

1 a : to remove from recognition or memory

b : to remove from existence

2 : to make undecipherable by wiping out or covering over


The children's chalk drawings remained on the sidewalk until a rainstorm came along and obliterated them.

"That was before Hurricane Maria obliterated the only tropical rain forest in the United States forest system. Left behind was a scene so bare that on a recent visit, it was possible to see the concrete skyline of San Juan about 30 miles west—a previously unimaginable sight." — Luis Ferré-Sadurní, The New York Times, 11 Oct. 2017

Did you know?

Far from being removed from existence, obliterate is thriving in our language today with various senses that it has acquired over the years. True to its Latin source, oblitteratus—from the prefix ob-, meaning "in the way," and littera, meaning "letter"—it began in the mid-16th century as a word for removing something from memory. Soon after, English speakers began to use it for the specific act of blotting out or obscuring anything written, and eventually its meaning was generalized to removing anything from existence. In the meantime, physicians began using obliterate for the surgical act of filling or closing up a vessel, cavity, or passage with tissue. Its final stamp on the English lexicon was delivered in the mid-19th century: "to cancel a postage or revenue stamp."



Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 21, 2017 is:

wifty • \WIF-tee\  • adjective

: eccentrically silly, giddy, or inane : ditzy


"Developers are, by nature, dreamers and gamblers, seeing opportunity and growth where others see only the Steak & Bagel Train. Many developers appear a tad wifty, perhaps existing in some altered state of consciousness, but this project is in a class by itself." — Karen Heller, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 28 Oct. 2012

"… he paints a tender and sensitive portrait of a modern-day Don Quixote trapped in his own grand, wifty delusions." — Laura Bennett, The Boston Globe, 2 July 2009

Did you know?

Wifty is a synonym of ditzy. And, like ditzy, its origins remain unknown. The earliest print evidence of wifty goes back to the early 20th century, though the word was certainly being used in spoken English before that. Ditzy stumbled into American slang decades later—we are able to trace it back to the 1970s. But dizzy, which in its Old English origins meant "foolish" or "stupid," has been used in a sense similar to ditzy or wifty since the 16th century.



Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 20, 2017 is:

bombinate • \BAHM-buh-nayt\  • verb

: to make a sustained deep murmuring, humming, or buzzing sound : buzz, drone


The only sounds Jared could hear in the office that night were those of his own typing and the air conditioner bombinating.

"Black-marketeers and scalpers began buzzing around the theatres, bombinating ceaselessly, … 'Ten-for-five, ten-for five, ten-for-five.'" — Rohinton Mistry, Such a Long Journey, 1991

Did you know?

Bombinate sounds like it should be the province of bombastic blowhards who bound up and bombard you with droning blather at parties—and it is. The word derives from the Greek word bombos, a term that probably originated as an imitation of a deep, hollow sound (the kind we would likely refer to as "booming" nowadays). Latin speakers rendered the original Greek form as bombus, and that root gave forth a veritable din of raucous English offspring, including not only bombinate, but also bomb, bombard, and bound ("a leap or jump"). However, Latin bombus is not a direct ancestor of bombastic, which traces to bombyx, a Greek name for the silkworm.



Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 19, 2017 is:

fervid • \FER-vid\  • adjective

1 : very hot : burning

2 : marked by often extreme intensity of feeling


"Here at the Toronto International Film Festival, there are posters for an upcoming Guillermo del Toro-curated exhibit called 'Influences' that will let you sample the movies and books and music that fed the director's fervid imagination." — David Edelstein, Vulture, 14 Sept. 2017

"The travellers set forth on horseback, and purposed to perform much of their aimless journeyings under the moon, and in the cool of the morning or evening twilight; the midday sun … being still too fervid to allow of noontide exposure." — Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1860

Did you know?

The Latin verb fervēre can mean "to boil" or "to glow," as well as, by extension, "to seethe" or "to be roused." In English, this root gives us three words that can mean "impassioned" by varying degrees: fervid, fervent, and perfervid. Fervid and fervent are practically synonymous, 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"). Perfervid combines fervid with the Latin prefix per- ("thoroughly") to create a word meaning "marked by overwrought or exaggerated emotion," as in "a perfervid display of patriotism."



Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 18, 2017 is:

belaud • \bih-LAWD\  • verb

: to praise usually to excess


"Several cheers went up. Piccard, unaware of the scene unfolding behind him, seemed to think they were meant to belaud his plan." — Jake Silverstein, Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction, 2011

"We believe it was about 1835 that Mr. Dearborn republished the Culprit Fay, which then, as at the period of its original issue, was belauded by the universal American press…." — Edgar Allan Poe, "J. G. C. Brainard" in The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, 1850

Did you know?

You may recognize the word laud (meaning "to praise or extol") in belaud. In fact, belaud was formed by combining the prefix be- and the verb laud. Since be- can denote both "to a greater degree" and "excessively or ostentatiously," it perhaps should come as no surprise that while laud may imply praise to a deserved degree, belaud often has the connotations of unreasonable or undeserved praise. Incidentally, both laud and by extension belaud derive from the Latin verb laudare, which in turn traces back to laud-, meaning "praise." Other descendants of laud- in English include laudatory, laudable, and even laudation, meaning "an act of praising."



Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 17, 2017 is:

jalousie • \JAL-uh-see\  • noun

1 : a blind with adjustable horizontal slats for admitting light and air while excluding direct sun and rain

2 : a window made of adjustable glass louvers that control ventilation


The rooms of the little bungalow were protected from the brutal tropical heat by wooden jalousies.

"All the old jalousies have been replaced with new windows framed in mahogany, but many interior doors and much of the original hardware have been retained." — Christine Davis, The Palm Beach Daily News, 14 July 2011

Did you know?

Etymologists are clear on the source of the word jalousie—it's French for "jealousy"—but the relationship between the emotion and the window treatments originally referred to as jalousies is not something they've speculated much about. Is it that those peering out through the original jalousie blinds were jealous of the people outside? Or is it more likely that the jealousy festered in the hearts of those outside, who could see the blinds but not the faces and lives of the people they hid? This excerpt from the October 23, 1766 entry in the Duchess of Northumberland's diary perhaps provides a clue: "Rows of Seats with Jalousies in Front that [the women] may not be seen."



Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 16, 2017 is:

lollygag • \LAH-lee-gag\  • verb

: to spend time idly, aimlessly, or foolishly : dawdle


Owen had a habit of lollygagging in the morning when he was supposed to be getting ready for school, and that meant that he was sometimes late.

"We were spoiled in the heart of summer by daylight that lingered until 10 p.m. We felt no sense of hurry. We could get home from work and still have almost five hours to lollygag away catching walleyes, water-skiing or having picnics on the beach." — Sam Cook, The Duluth (Minnesota) News Tribune, 29 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

You certainly didn't want to be known as a lollygagger at the beginning of the 20th century. Back then, lollygag was slang for "fooling around" (sexually, that is). That sense of lollygag was in use at least as long ago as 1868, and it probably originated as an alteration of the older (and more dawdlingly innocent) lallygag. Nowadays, lollygag doesn't usually carry such naughty connotations, but back in 1946, one Navy captain considered lollygagging enough of a problem to issue this stern warning: "Lovemaking and lollygagging are hereby strictly forbidden.... The holding of hands, osculation and constant embracing of WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service], corpsmen or civilians and sailors or any combination of male and female personnel is a violation of naval discipline...."



Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 15, 2017 is:

proximity • \prahk-SIM-uh-tee\  • noun

: the quality or state of being proximate : closeness


"[T]he company's main advantages as an exporter include proximity to the U.S. market, quality of production and its ability to alter production to suit the needs and design tastes of U.S. consumers." — Thomas Russell, Furniture Today, 4 Oct. 2017

"Common interests, shared experiences and momentum are the things that bind superficial relationships…, but remove the natural closeness that proximity creates and you find that having once shared a few high school classes is not enough to sustain a lifelong relationship." — Jonathan Look, Forbes, 24 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

The history of proximity hinges on the idea of closeness, both physical and metaphorical. English speakers borrowed the word from Middle French, which in turn acquired it from Latin proximitat-, proximitas, forms of the adjective proximus, meaning "nearest" or "next." A number of other languages, including Catalan, Portuguese, and Italian, derived similar words from Latin proximus. Other descendants of proximus in English include proximal, proximate, and the somewhat more rare approximal (meaning "contiguous").



Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 14, 2017 is:

stellar • \STEL-er\  • adjective

1 a : of or relating to the stars : astral

b : composed of stars

2 : of or relating to a theatrical or film star

3 a : principal, leading

b : outstanding


Kelly's stellar academic record should help her gain acceptance to almost any college she wants to attend.

"The carbon-rich asteroid is like a time capsule from more than 4.5 billion years ago when the solar system formed. Scientists hope that the samples that Osiris-Rex collects and brings to Earth in 2023 will contain clues from the earliest history of our stellar neighborhood." — Nicholas St. Fleur, The New York Times, 28 Sept. 2017

Did you know?

Stella, the Latin word for "star," shines brightly in the word constellation, but stella words have been favored by scientists to describe earthly things as much as heavenly bodies. Stellar was once used to mean "star-shaped." That use is no longer current, but today biologists and geologists might use one of these synonyms: stellular, stellate, and stelliform. Poets, too, have looked to stella. John Milton used stellar in its infancy when he wrote in Paradise Lost "these soft fires … shed down their stellar virtue." Stellar shot into its leading role as a synonym of star (as when we say "stellar pupil") in the late 1800s.



Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 13, 2017 is:

roué • \roo-AY\  • noun

: a man devoted to a life of sensual pleasure : rake


"Hugh Grant, as a roué who seems to realize that his charm is a regrettably cheap commodity, enjoyed something of a comeback in Florence Foster Jenkins." — Tom Gliatto, People, 17 Jan. 2017             

"[Roger Moore's] Bond was a roué, a bounder, a debonair playboy not remotely like a real spy and arguably all the better for it." — Alex Bilmes, Esquire, 25 May 2017

Did you know?

Roué originated as a French word and gained momentum when it began to be used in reference to the libertine companions of Philippe II, France's regent from 1715-1723. Roué means "broken on the wheel" in French and ultimately derives from Latin rota, meaning "wheel." Since the wheel being referred to was an instrument of punishment, the French were implying that such dissolute beings deserved this punishment. By the end of the 18th century, English-speakers added roué to its list of synonyms for a rake, libertine, debaucher, lecher, etc.