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.



July 6th, 2015

Episode 248 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 06, 2015 is: categorical \kat-uh-GOR-ih-kul\ adjective 1 : absolute, unqualified 2 : of, relating to, or constituting a category Examples: "For his part, Morell, who became deputy CIA director in 2010 and twice served as acting director before retiring in 2013, was categorical in his denial." Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy DC, May 13, 2015 "Following the AT&T Byron Nelson (tournament), Spieth ranked as the No. 12 celebrity people aspire to be in the future. His other categorical rankingsfrom endorsement to influence to trend-setter to trustworthinessall saw similar results." Candace Carlisle, Dallas Business Journal, June 10, 2015 Did you know? The ancestor of categorical and category has been important in logic and philosophy since the days of Aristotle. Both English words derive from Greek katēgoria, which Aristotle used to name the 10 fundamental classes (also called "predications" or "assertions") of terms, things, or ideas into which he felt human knowledge could be organized. Ironically, although those categories and things categorical are supposed to be absolute and fundamental, philosophers have long argued about the number and type of categories that exist and their role in understanding the world. High-level philosophical disputes aside, the word categorical continues to refer to an absolute assertion, one that involves no conditions or hypotheses (for example, the statement "all humans are mortal").