Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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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.



December 30th, 2014

Episode 61 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 30, 2014 is: advertent \ad-VER-tunt\ adjective : giving attention : heedful Examples: Marcia listened to everything I said with an advertent expression on her face, and then proceeded to tell me, point by point, why she disagreed with me. The governor is still threatening to veto the bill, even though he is advertent to the strong public support for it. Did you know? You may be thinking that advertent should mean "intentional." After all, inadvertent means "unintentional." Take away the negative prefix in- and you're left with that word's opposite, right? If this is your line of thought, you're not entirely off base; the two words (which both entered English in the 17th century and derive from Latin advertere, meaning "to turn the mind or attention") are in fact closely linked. But inadvertent has another, older meaning: "inattentive" or "not focusing the mind on a matter." The established meaning of advertent falls opposite that older sense of inadvertent. Does this mean that advertent never means "intentional"? Not exactly. We have seen some evidence of this use, but it's not yet well enough established to be entered in our dictionaries.