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.



October 1st, 2015

Episode 336 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 01, 2015 is: consternation \kahn-ster-NAY-shun\ noun : amazement or dismay that hinders or throws into confusion Examples: To the consternation of her students, Mrs. Jennings gave a pop quiz on the first Friday of the school year. "A [Russian] law that obliged bloggers to register with the government caused consternation last year." Sam Schechner and Olga Razumovskaya, The Wall Street Journal, 31 Aug. 2015 Did you know? Wonder what the seemingly dissimilar words prostrate ("stretched out with face on the ground"), stratum ("layer"), and stratus ("a low cloud form extending over a large area") have in common with consternation? They are all thought to share the Latin ancestor sternere, meaning "to spread" or "to strike or throw down." Much to our consternation, we cannot make that sentence definitive: while prostrate, stratum, and stratus are clearly the offspring of sternere, etymologists will only go so far as to say that consternation comes from Latin consternareand that they have a strong suspicion that consternare is another descendent of sternere.