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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.

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éclat

July 14th, 2016

Episode 585 of 713 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 14, 2016 is: éclat \ay-KLAH\ noun 1 : ostentatious display : publicity 2 : dazzling effect : brilliance 3 a : brilliant or conspicuous success b : praise, applause Examples: "The … protagonist is a familiar archetype, that washed-up star who can't quite reclaim the éclat of decades past." — Kevin Zawacki, Paste, 25 Aug. 2014 "A woman, a hostess, could play an important subterfuge.… She could serve dinner with eclat, put people at ease, and spice the conversation with the wit that obscured the politics in political discussions." — Louisa Thomas, New York Magazine, 14 Apr. 2016 Did you know? Éclat burst onto the scene in English in the 17th century. The word derives from French, where it can mean "splinter" (the French idiom voler en éclats means "to fly into pieces") as well as "burst" (un éclat de rire means "a burst of laughter"), among other things. The "burst" sense is reflected in the earliest English sense of the word, meaning "ostentatious display or publicity." This sense found its own idiomatic usage in the phrase "to make an éclat," which at one time meant "to create a sensation." By the 1740s, éclat took on the additional meaning of "applause or acclamation," as in "The performer was received with great éclat."

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