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.



December 17th, 2014

Episode 48 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 17, 2014 is: ergonomic \er-guh-NAH-mik\ adjective 1 : of or relating to the science of designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely 2 : designed or arranged for safe, comfortable, and efficient use Examples: Clara hoped that the ergonomic arrangement of her new workstation would help reduce the daily aches in her elbow and wrist. "Fender has been credited with design and manufacturing innovations that revolutionized the world of electric guitars and basses. The Stratocaster body introduced a curvy ergonomic design for ease of playing." Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times, November 12, 2014 Did you know? In 1969, a British publication assured the public that although the word ergonomics looked forbidding, "all it means is the science of making things fit people, instead of asking people to fit things." Ergonomic design as a field of study originated in the 19th century when a Polish author, Wojciech Jastrzebowski, wrote an article about the relation between human activity and the methods used to accomplish that activity. In the article, written in his native Polish, Jastrzebowski coined the word ergonomji, an efficient combination of the Greek ergo-, meaning "work," and nomos, meaning "law." British scientist K. F. H. Murrell is credited with creating the English word ergonomics in 1949, applying the -nomics ending to ergo- in imitation of economics. Earliest evidence of the adjective ergonomic dates to 1954.

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