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.
September 2nd, 2016
Episode 635 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 2, 2016 is: adjuvant \AJ-uh-vunt\ adjective 1 : serving to aid or contribute : auxiliary 2 : assisting in the prevention, amelioration, or cure of disease Examples: The study showed caffeine to have an adjuvant effect when combined with certain pain relievers, increasing the potency of the latter. "Kidney cancer has long been resistant to chemotherapy, but researchers are finding more success with targeted drug treatments (called adjuvanttherapy) delivered after surgery, which attack the genetic mutations underlying a tumor's growth." — Ryan Bradley, The New York Times, 15 May 2016 Did you know? Things that are adjuvant rarely get top billing—they're the supporting players, not the stars. But that doesn't mean they're not important. An adjuvant medicine, for example, can have a powerful healing effect when teamed up with another medicine or curative treatment. Adjuvant descends from the Latin verb adjuvare ("to aid"), which also gave English the nouns coadjutor ("assistant") and aid. These days, adjuvant tends to turn up most often in medical contexts, but it can also be used in the general sense of "serving to aid." Likewise, the noun adjuvant can mean "a drug or method that enhances the effectiveness of medical treatment" or simply "one that helps or facilitates."