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.
August 17th, 2016
Episode 619 of 793 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 17, 2016 is: dunnage \DUN-ij\ noun 1 : loose materials used to support and protect cargo in a ship's hold; also : padding in a shipping container 2 : baggage Examples: The listed weight on the shipping order did not account for the container and dunnage. "There are … efforts to reduce impact on the environment, with employees reusing as much of the packing material as possible. Boxes can be reused or turned into dunnage to use in packing." — The Crossville (Tennessee) Chronicle, 26 Nov. 2012 Did you know? Etymologists don't know the exact origin of dunnage. Some have pointed out the similarity of the word to dünne twige, a Low German term meaning "brushwood," but no one has ever proven the two are related. Others have speculated that it derives from Dunlop, the name of a famous cheese-making town in Scotland; however, neither the town nor the cheese has any connection to dunnage. Truth be told, though dunnage has been with us since the 15th century, its etymological history remains a mystery.