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.
November 14th, 2014
Episode 18 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 14, 2014 is: devise \dih-VYZE\ verb 1 a : to form in the mind by new combinations or applications of ideas or principles : invent b : to plan to obtain or bring about : plot 2 : to give (real estate) by will Examples: The author's childhood home was devised to the city and the Historical Commission will turn it into a museum devoted to her life. "Students at the Ilead Charter School devised three ways to bash pumpkins into pieces. One method used rubber surgical tubing to create an Angry Birds-style slingshot to propel the squash through the air. A more direct device crushed the pumpkins with a weight and a bowling ball." Kevin Lillard, Juneau County Star-Times (Wisconsin), October 15, 2014 Did you know? There's something inventive about devise, a word that stems from Latin dividere, meaning "to divide." By the time devise appeared in English in the 1200s, its Anglo-French forebear deviser had accumulated an array of senses, including "to divide," "distribute," "arrange," "array," "digest," "order," "plan," "invent," "contrive," and "assign by will." English adopted most of these and added some new senses over the course of time: "to imagine," "guess," "pretend," and "describe." In modern use, we've disposed of a lot of the old meanings, but we kept the one that applies to wills. Devise traditionally referred to the transfer of real property (land), and bequeath to personal property; these days, however, devise is often recognized as applying generally to all the property in a person's estate.