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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.

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chatoyant

March 2nd, 2015

Episode 123 of 713 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 02, 2015 is: chatoyant \shuh-TOY-unt\ adjective : having a changeable luster or color with an undulating narrow band of white light Examples: "Suddenly he felt himself again in Carthage. There was a river there, too: not a little bolt of chatoyant silk like the Avon, which they would have called a 'crick' back there." Rupert Hughes, "Momma" And Other Unimportant People, 1920 "They had interesting rocks, everything from Texas Hill Country caliche and an agate found in a gravel parking lot to a trilobite fossil and slice of chatoyant tiger's eye from Colorado." Tommy Simmons, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), September 2, 2010 Did you know? The complex structure of a cat's eye not only enables it to see at night but also gives it the appearance of glowing in the dark. Not surprisingly, jewels that sport a healthy luster are often compared with the feline ocular organ, so much that the term cat's-eye is used to refer to those gems (such as chalcedony) that give off iridescence from within. If you've brushed up on your French lately, you might notice that the French word for cat (chat) provides the first four letters of chatoyant, a word used by jewelers to describe such lustrous gems (and by others who see the same luster elsewhere). Chatoyant derives from the present participle of chatoyer, a French verb that literally means "to shine like a cat's eyes."

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