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Word Matters

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Word Matters

Merriam-Webster, New England Public Media

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Word Matters is a show for readers, writers, and anyone who's curious about the English language. Join Merriam-Webster editors as they challenge supposed grammar rules, reveal the surprising origins behind words, tackle common questions, and generally geek out about the beautiful nightmare that is our language.
 
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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 7, 2021 is: ostracize • \AH-struh-syze\ • verb Ostracize means "to exclude from a group by common consent." // The Senator knew that he might be ostracized by his party, but he voted with his heart and against the party line, nevertheless. See the entry > Examples: "Our mental health suffers if we feel…
 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 6, 2021 is: fomite • \FOH-myte\ • noun A fomite is an object (such as a dish, doorknob, or article of clothing) that may be contaminated with bacteria or viruses and serve in their transmission. //Everyday objects that are smooth, like our phones and credit cards, can be fomites. See the entry > Exampl…
 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 5, 2021 is: commodious • \kuh-MOH-dee-us\ • adjective Commodious means "comfortably or conveniently spacious"—in a word, "roomy." // The description of the house for sale notes a commodious living room adjacent to a large kitchen, both perfect for entertaining guests. See the entry > Examples: "When yo…
 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 4, 2021 is: interloper • \in-ter-LOH-per\ • noun An interloper is a person or thing that intrudes in a place or sphere of activity. // As he watched the doe and fawn grazing in the field, the photographer was struck by a feeling of being an interloper. See the entry > Examples: "For decades, physicists…
 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 3, 2021 is: galvanize • \GAL-vuh-nyze\ • verb Galvanize means "to cause (people) to take action on something that they are excited or concerned about." // The council's proposal to close the library has galvanized the town's residents. See the entry > Examples: "I think circumstances we've been through…
 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 2, 2021 is: smarmy • \SMAR-mee\ • adjective Smarmy means "behaving in a way that seems polite, kind, or pleasing but is not genuine or believable." // Online reviews of the resort warned of smarmy street vendors when wandering from the tourist areas. See the entry > Examples: "Before [Daniel Craig], Ja…
 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 1, 2021 is: derrick • \DAIR-ik\ • noun A derrick is a tall framework over an oil well that supports equipment used in drilling. // Areas of the desert have become fields of oil derricks. See the entry > Examples: "Oil derricks dot the coastline, often scattered in between residential and shopping cente…
 
This week we're joined by Wall Street Journal language columnist and Spectacular Vernacular podcast host Ben Zimmer! Learn all about Ben's research on the history of words like 'hella' and 'Ms.', plus how slang is studied and tracked through time. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/pri…
 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 30, 2021 is: hoity-toity • \hoy-tee-TOY-tee\ • adjective Hoity-toity means "pretentious, fancy, or pompous." // The guidance counselor emphasized that students do not need to go to a hoity-toity college to achieve success. See the entry > Examples: "[Daniel Heider] says his post-high-school years were …
 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 29, 2021 is: obfuscate • \AHB-fuh-skayt\ • verb Obfuscate means "to make difficult to understand" or "to be evasive, unclear, or confusing." // The coach obfuscated his response as to whether he would retire at the end of the season. // When asked about the lawsuit alleging plagiarism, the singer obfus…
 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 28, 2021 is: menorah • \muh-NOR-uh\ • noun A menorah is a candelabra with seven or nine lights that is used in Jewish worship. // At sundown on the first night of Hanukkah, Aaron's father helped him light the first candle on the menorah. See the entry > Examples: "The world's largest menorah went up in…
 
First: someone who owns or runs a restaurant is called a restaurateur. What? How did that happen? Is 'restauranteur' a valid word? We'll get into it. Then: why do people say 'meteoric rise' when meteors are famously things that fall? Hosted by Emily Brewster, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski. Produced in collaboration with New England Public Media.…
 
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