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.
April 2nd, 2016
Episode 492 of 903 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 2, 2016 is: abrasive \uh-BRAY-siv\ adjective 1 : tending to wear away by rubbing 2 : causing irritation Examples: Coworkers tolerated Jane's abrasive personality because she was brilliant, but many privately wished she could learn to be a bit more polite. "He comes across as direct, confident but not cocky or abrasive." — Steve Flowers, The Jacksonville (Alabama) News, 23 Feb. 2016 Did you know? Once upon a time, English had two different but similarly derived words meaning "to wear down": abrade and abrase. However, in this fairy tale, only one of the two had a happy ending; while abrade remains a familiar word to modern English speakers, abrase has become quite rare. And yet, abrase lives on in its descendant abrasive, which was formed by combining the verb with the -ive suffix. Both of the verbs, and by extension abrasive, can be traced back to the Latin verb abradere, meaning "to scrape off." Abradere in turn is a combination of ab- and radere, meaning "to scrape."