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.



May 6th, 2015

Episode 188 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 06, 2015 is: dauntless \DAWNT-lus\ adjective : resolute especially in the face of danger or difficulty : fearless, undaunted Examples: The rescuers were dauntless, battling cold, wind, and fatigue to reach the injured mountain climbers. "In recent years Scandinavian central bankers have shown the same dauntless appetite for exploration that once saw Nordic ships fan out across the globe." Financial Times, April 9, 2015 Did you know? The history of the world is peopled with dauntless men and women who refused to be subdued or "tamed" by fear. The word dauntless can be traced back to Latin domare, meaning "to tame" or "to subdue." When our verb daunt (a domare descendant borrowed by way of Anglo-French) was first used in the 14th century, it shared these meanings. The now-obsolete "tame" sense referred to the taming or breaking of wild animals, particularly horses: an undaunted horse was an unbroken horse. Not until the late 16th century did we use undaunted with the meaning "undiscouraged and courageously resolute" to describe people. By then, such lionhearted souls could also be described as undauntable, and finally, in Henry VI, Part 3, Shakespeare gave us dauntless.

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