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.



August 23rd, 2015

Episode 297 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 23, 2015 is: august \aw-GUST\ adjective : marked by majestic dignity or grandeur Examples: "But a great deal of life goes on without strong passion: myriads of cravats are carefully tied, dinners attended, even speeches made proposing the health of august personages without the zest arising from a strong desire." George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, 1876 "When the Académie Française, the most august literary institution in France, inducted Dany Laferrière last month, it insisted that that Haitian-Québécois novelist was the first non-French citizen to enter its ranks." Rachel Donadio, The New York Times, June 17, 2015 Did you know? August comes from the Latin word augustus, meaning "consecrated" or "venerable," which in turn is related to the Latin augur, meaning "consecrated by augury" or "auspicious." In 8 B.C. the Roman Senate honored Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor, by changing the name of their month Sextilis to Augustus. Old English speakers inherited the name of the month of August, but it wasn't until the late 1500s that august came to be used generically in English, more or less as augustus was in Latin, to refer to someone with imperial qualities.