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.



May 13th, 2015

Episode 194 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 13, 2015 is: askance \uh-SKANSS\ adverb 1 : with a side-glance : obliquely 2 : with disapproval or distrust : scornfully Examples: Rebecca's children looked askance at her when she suggested they turn off their electronic devices and go play outside in the nice weather. "Well, mandolin players tend to look askance at ukuleles, because we're often asked if that little guitar-looking thing is a ukulele. 'No, its a mandolin!'" Geoff Howes, BG News (Bowling Green State University), April 5, 2015 Did you know? Etymologists have been scratching their heads over the origin of askance for centuries. Sources from Italian and Old Norse, among other languages, have been suggested, but, today, dictionary editors look askance at all of these explanations and simply label the word "origin unknown." What we do know is that the word was first used in English in the mid-16th century with the meaning "sideways" or "with a sideways glance," and that writers over the years have used the suggestion of someone looking askance at something to express a number of feelings from disapproval and distrust to jealousy.

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