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.
March 9th, 2015
Episode 130 of 681 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 09, 2015 is: apple-polish \AP-ul-pah-lish\ verb 1 : to attempt to ingratiate oneself : toady 2 : to curry favor with (as by flattery) Examples: "There still might be time to apple-polish the boss." Garry Smits, Florida Times-Union, October 30, 2008 "One of the reasons unions (and step increases) exist is to eliminate cronyism or favoritism. No teacher has to apple-polish the principal to get a raise." John Jones, Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, June 11, 2011 Did you know? It began innocently enough: a shiny apple for the teacher, a young student's gift (OK, bribe) given in the hope that classroom high jinks would be forgotten or forgiven. The college students of the 1920s tried a more sophisticated version of the trick, polishing professorial egos with compliments in the hopes of getting a better grade. Because of its similarity to the "apple for the teacher" practice, college students dubbed that grade-enhancement strategy apple-polishing. But the idea quickly lost its luster and by 1935 the verb apple-polish had picked up negative connotations. Nowadays, the apple-polisher (academic or otherwise) is viewed in the same much-maligned class as the toady, sycophant, and bootlicker.
Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut explore how design works within complex organizations to shape decisions, ideas, products, and more. Guests include clients from many industries and designers in many fields. Recorded at the Yale School of Management.