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.
June 23rd, 2015
Episode 235 of 823 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 23, 2015 is: belated \bih-LAY-tud\ adjective 1 : delayed beyond the usual time 2 : existing or appearing past the normal or proper time Examples: Susan called Jim to let him know that a belated birthday gift from her was on its way. "Friends and neighbors of the state Capitol complex joined Lt. Gov. Angela McLean Friday in a belated Earth Day celebration, planting trees and dedicating a new garden space across from the Capitol." Independent Record (Montana), May 1, 2015 Did you know? Long ago, there was a verb belate, which meant "to make late." From the beginning, belate tended to mostly turn up in the form of its past participle belated. Eventually, belate itself fell out of use, leaving behind belated as an adjective that preserved the original notion of delay. As you may have guessed, belate and its descendant belated derive from the adjective late; belate was formed by simply combining the prefix be- ("to cause to be") with late. Belated was also once used in the sense "overtaken by night," as in "belated travelers seeking lodging for the night." This sense was in fact the first meaning of the adjective but it too fell out of use.