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.
June 4th, 2016
Episode 545 of 681 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 4, 2016 is: ablution \uh-BLOO-shun\ noun 1 : the washing of one's body or part of it (as in a religious rite) 2 : the act or action of bathing — used in the plural form Examples: Francis awakened at dawn and performed his ablutions. "While it's true that many folks enjoy the ease of hopping into a shower stall for their morning ablutions, you are still likely to find at least one tub in just about every American home." — Laura First, The Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, Oklahoma), 27 Sept. 2015 Did you know? Ablution derives via Middle French and Middle English from the Latin verb abluere, meaning "to wash away," formed from the prefix ab- ("away, off") and lavere ("to wash"). Early uses of the word occurred in contexts of alchemy and chemistry. The first known use of ablution to refer to washing as a religious rite occurs in Thomas More's The Apologye Made by Hym (1533). Many religions include some kind of washing of the body in their rituals, usually as a form of purification or dedication. The use of the term to refer to the action of washing one's body without any religious significance did not take hold in English until the mid-18th century. In British English, ablutions can also refer to a building housing bathing and toilet facilities on a military base.