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.
February 5th, 2016
Episode 440 of 720 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 5, 2016 is: challah \KHAH-luh\ noun : egg-rich yeast-leavened bread that is usually braided or twisted before baking and is traditionally eaten by Jews on the Sabbath and holidays Examples: My father made a blessing over the challah before it was broken and passed around the Shabbat table. "The table was graced with the latkes and doughnuts that mark the Jewish holiday, but also featured brisket,challahand tzimmes…." — Deanna Fox, The Times-Union (Albany, New York), 31 Dec. 2015 Did you know? When English speakers first borrowed challah from Yiddish, they couldn't quite settle on a single spelling, so the word showed up in several forms; challah, challa, hallah, and the plural forms challoth, challot, halloth, and hallot were all common enough to merit inclusion in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged when it was released in 1961. Today, challah and the anglicized plural challahs are the variants that are usually encountered by English speakers. The initial ch of challah is frequently pronounced as a velar fricative, like the ch in the German Buch or the Scottish English loch.