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.



April 29th, 2015

Episode 181 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 29, 2015 is: commodious \kuh-MOH-dee-us\ adjective : comfortably or conveniently spacious : roomy Examples: "Branch says the top priority for a moviegoer is comfortable seating. To meet that demand, Hendrick Construction removed the theater's 1,800 traditionally narrow, fabric-covered folding seats and replaced them with 800 more commodious, densely padded, soft grey vinyl recliners nearly 3 feet in width." Roberta Fuchs, Mecklenburg Times (Charlotte, North Carolina), March 2, 2015 "The voice came from the boughs of a tall cherry-tree, where Adam had no difficulty in discerning a small blue-pinafored figure perched in a commodious position where the fruit was thickest." George Eliot, Adam Bede, 1859 Did you know? Although it's now used to mean "roomy," in the 16th century commodious was regularly used to mean "handy" or "serviceable," a meaning that is true to the word's Latin ancestor, commodum, meaning "convenience." Poet William Cowper used the word in that original sense in a letter referring to a vessel that served double duty, carrying mackerel and herring from a seaside town to London, then making the return trip carrying passengers. As Cowper observed, "The cheapness of the conveyance made it equally commodious for dead fish and lively company." (No doubt the arriving passengers had a lively smell, which may be one reason why Cowper also noted that some visitors to the seaside town were company whom "people who were nice in the choice of their company, were rather fearful of keeping company with.")