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.



January 24th, 2015

Episode 86 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 24, 2015 is: evitable \EV-uh-tuh-bul\ adjective : capable of being avoided Examples: The investigator determined that the accident was certainly evitable and would not have happened if the driver hadn't been negligent. "Books, journals, conventions, and electronic networks have made provincial isolation easily evitable." James Sledd, English Journal, November 1994 Did you know? British author T. S. Eliot once gave a lecture at Trinity College (Cambridge, England) in which he spoke about "the disintegration of the intellect" in 19th century Europe, saying, "The 'disintegration' of which I speak may be evitable or inevitable, good or bad; to draw its optimistic or pessimistic conclusions is an occupation for prophets . . . of whom I am not one." Evitable, though not common, has been in English since the beginning of the 16th century; it's often found paired with its opposite, inevitable, as in Eliot's passage as well as in this self-reflection by Liverpool Echo writer Gary Bainbridge in March of 2014: "I have been thinking about my inevitable death, and decided I would like to make it a bit more evitable." Both words were borrowed from similar Latin adjectives, which in turn are based on the verb evitare, which means "to avoid."