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.



December 1st, 2015

Episode 388 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 01, 2015 is: consequential \kahn-suh-KWEN-shul\ adjective 1 : of the nature of a secondary result : indirect 2 : consequent 3 : having significant consequences : important 4 : self-important Examples: Voters handed the mayor a decisive victory in the election, demonstrating that they still trust her to handle the most consequential issues facing the community. "But while much of the world was looking away, Shinzo Abe, the country's prime minister since 2012, has become one of the most consequentialJapanese politicians of the postwar era." Bill Powell, Newsweek, 29 Sept. 2015 Did you know? Consequential dates from the 17th century and can be traced back to the Latin verb consequi, meaning "to follow along." Consequi, in turn, combines the prefix con-, meaning "through" or "with," and sequi, meaning "to follow." The English words sequel, second, and suitor are among the offspring of sequi. Henry Fielding's 1728 comedy Love in Several Masques introduced the meaning of "important" to consequential, which had until that point been used primarily in the context of results. Evidence for this usage declined temporarily in the 19th century, causing its acceptability to be questioned by such commentators as H. W. Fowler; it resurfaced in the 20th century, however, and is now considered standard.