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.



January 3rd, 2016

Episode 413 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 3, 2016 is: alacrity \uh-LAK-ruh-tee\ noun : promptness in response : cheerful readiness Examples: Jane is passionate about her job and performs her duties with enthusiasm and alacrity. "The second grader was there to get an anti-cavity sealant put on her six year molars, and she was comporting herself with analacrity many adults don't share in a dental chair." — William Porter, The Denver Post, 8 Nov. 2015 Did you know? "I have not that alacrity of spirit / Nor cheer of mind that I was wont to have," says Shakespeare's King Richard III in the play that bears his name. When Shakespeare penned those words, over 400 years ago, alacrity was at least 137 years old. Our English word derives from the Latin word alacer, which means "lively." It denotes physical quickness coupled with eagerness or enthusiasm. Are there any other words in English from Latin alacer? Yes—allegro, which is used as a direction in music with the meaning "at a brisk lively tempo." It came to us via Italian (where it can mean "merry") and is ultimately from alacer.