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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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Free daily dose of word power from Merriam-Webster's experts


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Free daily dose of word power from Merriam-Webster's experts







vignette • \vin-YET\ • noun A vignette is a short written description or a brief scene in a movie or play. // The play's program features a brief vignette about each member of the cast. // The documentary is a series of vignettes showing the lives of three families under quarantine during the pandemic. See the entry > Examples: "Additional pregame and in-game presentations will feature tributes and vignettes honoring [Phil] Niekro as one of baseball's greatest knuckleball...



precarious • \prih-KAIR-ee-us\ • adjective Precarious means "characterized by uncertainty, insecurity, or instability that threatens with danger." // College debt leaves many students in a precarious financial situation after graduation. // The books were stacked high in a precarious tower. See the entry > Examples: "Staff may be anxious about returning to the office and want to be assured of their safety while leaders are in the precarious position of having to make what they...



exonerate • \ig-ZAH-nuh-rayt\ • verb Exonerate means "to clear from a charge of wrongdoing or from blame." // The witness' testimonies were key in exonerating the defendant. // The report exonerated the captain from any blame for the ship's running aground. See the entry > Examples: "The actor met with Sooner State oil rig workers who helped him prepare for his role in 'Stillwater' as a father desperate to exonerate his jailed daughter of a murder conviction in France." — Peter...



tribulation • \trib-yuh-LAY-shun\ • noun Tribulation, which is often used in the phrase "trials and tribulations," refers to a trying experience. It can also mean "unhappiness, pain, or suffering." // The young, ambitious chef knew of trials and tribulations of opening a new restaurant, but he was ready for the undertaking. // Her son's illness has been a source of great tribulation. See the entry > Examples: "On the road to meet his destiny, Gawain must face a series of fearsome...



responsive • \rih-SPAHN-siv\ • adjective Responsive means "quick to respond or react in a desired or appropriate manner." // The Senator was responsive to the concerns voiced by the town's council and residents. // The eye contains cells that are responsive to light. See the entry > Examples: "A mobile responsive website is one that adapts to fit different screens, most notably mobile phones. It can do this in a number of ways that improve visibility and usability. For example, a...



inflammable • \in-FLAM-uh-bul\ • adjective Inflammable describes things that can easily catch fire. It also means "easily excited or angered." // The gas is highly inflammable. // The messenger trembled as he stuttered out the news of the army's defeat to the highly inflammable king. See the entry > Examples: "First, butane is inflammable (or flammable—whichever way you like to say it)." — Rhett Allain, Wired, 31 Mar. 2016 "'Don't trouble about it, Clym. They may get to be...



adversary • \AD-ver-sair-ee\ • noun Adversary is a word for an enemy or opponent. // The adversaries met at the negotiating table again, hoping to reach an agreement. See the entry > Examples: "Large-scale special effects and intrepid derring-do are wedded to themes of clan solidarity, compassion toward adversaries and contrition for past misdeeds in director Cate Shortland's Marvel Comics-derived action adventure." — The Arlington (Virginia) Catholic Herald, 2 Aug. 2021 Did you...



sedentary • \SED-un-tair-ee\ • adjective Sedentary describes an activity in which much sitting is involved. // Editorial work is chiefly sedentary. See the entry > Examples: "A sedentary lifestyle could increase your levels of exhaustion. Luckily, small changes in your daily life can impact your activity levels for the better. Taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator, and adding a daily walk can make you feel more energized…." — Maria Loreto, LA Weekly, 9 Aug. 2021 Did...



fulminate • \FULL-muh-nayt\ • verb Fulminate means "to send forth harsh criticisms or insults." // The writer of the editorial fulminated against the corruption in the state government that has been recently uncovered. See the entry > Examples: "Talking heads on both the right and the left now are fulminating about the labor shortage." — John Krull, The Republic (Columbus, Indiana), 28 July 2021 Did you know? Lightning strikes more than once in the history of fulminate. That...



brogue • \BROHG\ • noun A brogue is a low shoe, usually made of leather, with perforations and a wing tip. // Even though his brogues are scuffed and old, Dad prefers them to his new loafers. See the entry > Examples: "I've recently returned from my annual trip to the UK and, as usual on returning, my accent (apparently) is a little more clipped than when I left, and I'm wearing brogues and—most startling of all—socks, despite the unseasonable Aussie heat." — Neale Whitaker, The...



egregious • \ih-GREE-juss\ • adjective Egregious means "obviously or noticeably bad." // It is an egregious breach of theater etiquette to not shut off one's cell phone during the performance. See the entry > Examples: "He made egregious hiring decisions. He oversaw contracts handed out to friends and family." — editorial, The Forest Park Review (Oak Park, Illinois), 11 Aug. 2021 Did you know? Egregious comes from a Latin word meaning "distinguished" or "eminent." It was once...



suborn • \suh-BORN\ • verb Suborn means "to persuade (someone) to do something illegal (such as to lie in a court of law)." It can also mean "to obtain (false testimony) from a witness by persuasion." // The lawyer attempted to suborn the witness. // The prosecutor was guilty of suborning false testimony. See the entry > Examples: "Because suborning perjury is not a mistake, nor is suppressing evidence. These acts are intentional." — Melinda Henneberger, The Kansas City Star, 13...



coiffure • \kwah-FYUR\ • noun A coiffure is a style or manner of arranging the hair. // Linda almost didn't recognize her daughter as Elyse came off the bus with a stylish, new coiffure. See the entry > Examples: "Perhaps in no other eras has the female coiffure reached such, well, heights, towering actual feet above the wearer's skull line." — Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun, 5 Oct. 2003 Did you know? Coiffure, which is a somewhat fancy way of saying "hairdo," has its...



adamantine • \ad-uh-MAN-teen\ • adjective Adamantine means "rigidly firm" or "unyielding." // The laws were adamantine and were inscribed on bronze tablets. // The ushers were adamantine in their refusal to let latecomers into the theater. See the entry > Examples: "The black-and-white illustrations … conjure up wind-borne snows, cliffs that rear up like waves, and waves that look as adamantine as rock." — Susannah Clapp, The Observer (London), 5 June 2021 Did you know? The...



jeopardize • \JEP-er-dyze\ • verb Jeopardize means "to expose to danger or risk." // "I'm not willing to jeopardize my friendship with Camille by lying to her," said Luis. See the entry > Examples: "Drugmakers believe offering a drug before studies are finished could impair its development and jeopardize FDA approval." — Christina Bennett, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 25 July 2021 Did you know? It may be hard to believe that jeopardize was once controversial, but in 1870 a...



gasconade • \gas-kuh-NAYD\ • noun Gasconade is confident talk or behavior that is intended to impress other people. // After all his gasconade, the contestant couldn't manage to complete the obstacle race. See the entry > Examples: "His malevolence was only equalled by his audacity,—and this was, if possible, surpassed by his gasconade." — Nathaniel Pitt Langford, Vigilante Days and Ways, 1996 Did you know? The citizens of Gascony in southwestern France have proverbially been...



doff • \DAHF\ • verb Doff means "to take off or remove (a hat or a piece of clothing)." // They doffed their coats when they came inside the house. See the entry > Examples: "The public address announcer asked fans to salute the field of 33 cars as they zipped around the illustrious track on the warm-up lap. Thousands and thousands of fans doffed their caps and roared in approval of the drivers." — Dan Gelston, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 31 May 2021 Did you know? Time was,...



regnant • \REG-nunt\ • adjective Regnant means "reigning" or "dominant." // The regnant kings commanded their armies in the battle. // Christianity became the regnant religion during the Emperor's reign. See the entry > Examples: "The bare-chested Washington is draped in a Roman toga and clad in Roman sandals. Seated on an ornately carved chair (again, crafted according to the regnant style of Greco-Roman antiquity), he points the index finger of his right hand upward toward...



desultory • \DEH-sul-tor-ee\ • adjective Desultory means "marked by lack of definite plan or purpose." // After graduation, he moved from job to job in a desultory manner. See the entry > Examples: "So my friend goes into the office with his copy, walks up to the creative director's desk, gently puts it down in front of him, and waits. The creative director looks baffled and irritated. He picks up the copy and gives it a desultory read." — Rob Long, Martini Shot (KCRW radio), 9...



numinous • \NOO-muh-nus\ • adjective Numinous describes things having a mysterious or spiritual quality. // I was filled with a numinous sensation when, in the dark of night, a shooting star flashed across the sky. // The tourists were overcome by the numinous atmosphere of the catacombs. See the entry > Examples: "A musician, educator and serial collaborator, Win is also a collector of objects, thoughts and, of course, words—her poetry an illumination of the everyday beauty...