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.
July 27th, 2016
Episode 598 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 27, 2016 is: doff \DAHF\ verb 1 a : to remove (an article of wear) from the body b : to take off (the hat) in greeting or as a sign of respect 2 : to rid oneself of : put aside Examples: We'd only planned to stop briefly at the pond, but the children couldn't resist doffing their shoes and were quickly waist-deep in the cool water. "He received a standing ovation when he batted in the second inning. He stepped out of the batter's box and doffedhis helmet to the 36,491 fans." — Michael Kelly, The Boston Herald, 28 June 2016 Did you know? Time was, people talked about doffing and donning articles of wear with about the same frequency. But in the mid-19th century the verb don became significantly more popular and left doff to flounder a bit in linguistic semi-obscurity. Doff and don have been a pair from the start: both date to the 14th century, with doff coming from a phrase meaning "to do off" and don from one meaning "to do on." Shakespeare was first, as far as we know, to use the word as it's defined at sense 2. He put it in Juliet's mouth: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet. / … Romeo, doff thy name; / And for that name, which is no part of thee, / Take all myself."