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.



March 18th, 2016

Episode 477 of 688 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 18, 2016 is: epistemic \ep-uh-STEE-mik\ adjective : of or relating to knowledge or knowing : cognitive Examples: Professor Rich is convinced that the quest for epistemic certainty is a foolhardy one. "The Internet-enabled news-cum-entertainment industry stokes political resentments even as it creates epistemicanarchy." — Adrian Wooldridge, The New York Times, 24 Jan. 2016 Did you know? Epistemic has shifted from the arcane worlds of philosophy, linguistics, and rhetoric to the practical realms of business and marketing; for example, a 2007 Letter to Shareholders from the asset management firm Legg Mason referred to investors who "have a high epistemic threshold and do exhaustive analysis to create near certainty, or at least very high conviction, about their investments." Wherever it is used, epistemic traces back to the knowledge of the Greeks. It comes from epistēmē, Greek for "knowledge." That Greek word is from the verb epistanai, meaning "to know or understand," a word formed from the prefix epi- (meaning "upon" or "attached to") and histanai (meaning "to cause to stand"). The study of the nature and grounds of knowledge is called epistemology, and one who engages in such study is an epistemologist.

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