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 2nd, 2015
Episode 389 of 831 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 02, 2015 is: etymology \eh-tuh-MAH-luh-jee\ noun 1 : the history of a word or phrase shown by tracing its development and relationships 2 : a branch of linguistics dealing with etymologies Examples: As the etymology of "December" reports, the month gets its name from the Latin "decem" meaning "ten"a nod to its former status as the tenth month in the early Roman calendar. "'Sicario' opens with an etymology of the title. The word, which means hit man, derives from 'Sicarii'; the Sicarii were a band of zealots who attacked Romans in Jerusalem with the intention of expelling them from the Holy Land." Sonny Bunch, The Washington Post (online), 24 Sept. 2015 Did you know? Readers of the Word of the Day are already familiar with etymologiesthat is, word histories. The etymology of etymology itself is relatively straightforward. Etymon means "origin of a word" in Latin, and comes from the Greek word etymon, meaning "literal meaning of a word according to its origin." Greek etymon in turn comes from etymos, which means "true." Be careful not to confuse etymology with the similar sounding entomology. Entomon means "insect" in Greek, and entomology is the study of bugs.