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 25th, 2015

Episode 404 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 25, 2015 is: crèche \KRESH\ noun 1 : a representation of the Nativity scene 2 : a nursery or day care center 3 : a group of young animals (such as penguins or bats) gathered in one place for care and protection usually by one or more adults Examples: A crèche was erected on the lawn in front of the church. "Goldman has a creche in the basement of the building and Tefridj-Gaillard has used it in the past when other childcare fell through." — Rosamund Urwin, The Evening Standard, 17 Nov. 2015 Did you know? "She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a cratch." That may not sound like a familiar translation of Luke 2:7, but back in the 1300s, the substitution of cratch for manger probably wouldn't have raised any eyebrows. Back then spelling was imprecise, and several different words and spellings, including cratch, cracche, crache, and crecche, were used to describe a trough for holding feed for livestock or to identify the manger where Jesus was laid. By the late 18th century, crèche (which we borrowed from French and now sometimes spell without the accent mark) had displaced those older forms, and the word had lost its former "manger" meaning, coming to refer instead to a representation of the Nativity scene itself.

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