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 12th, 2015
Episode 347 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 12, 2015 is: delve \DELV\ verb 1 : to dig or labor with or as if with a spade 2 a : to make a careful or detailed search for information b : to examine a subject in detail Examples: "Of course, help yourself to whatever you like," Rosalie murmured vaguely before delving back into her book. "Laura M R Harrison's video sequences will use darkness and water to delve into the idea of being psychologically lost and the ways in which we consider the unknown." Becky Henrys, Cumbria Live (Cumbria, England), 21 Aug. 2015 Did you know? We must dig deep into the English language's past to find the origins of delve. The verb traces to the 9th-century Old English word delfan and is related to the Old High German word telban, meaning "to dig." For some 400 years, there was only delvingno diggingbecause dig didn't exist until the 13th century. Is the phrase "dig and delve" (as in the line "eleven, twelve, dig and delve," from the nursery rhyme that begins "one, two, buckle my shoe") redundant? Not necessarily. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in some local uses as recently as the late 19th century, dig was the term for working with a mattock (a tool similar to an adze or a pick), while delve was reserved for work done using a spade.