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.



November 15th, 2014

Episode 19 of 688 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 15, 2014 is: execrable \EK-sih-kruh-bul\ adjective 1 : deserving to be execrated : detestable 2 : very bad : wretched Examples: It turned out that the execrable odor was coming from a bag of onions rotting in the back of the pantry. "If the waiter laid my plate on the table and said, 'Eat!' I wouldn't mind. But 'Enjoy!' is another matter. There's something cloying, manipulative and, yes, distasteful about being told to enjoy something that might, for all you know, be bland or even execrable." Tim Johnson, The Burlington (Vermont) Free Press , February 16, 2013 Did you know? He or she who is cursed faces execrable conditions. Keep this in mind to remember that execrable is a descendant of the Latin verb exsecrari, meaning "to put under a curse." Since its earliest uses in English, beginning in the 14th century, execrable has meant "deserving or fit to be execrated," the reference being to things so abominable as to be worthy of formal denouncement (such as "execrable crimes"). But in the 19th century we lightened it up a bit, and our "indescribably bad" sense has since been applied to everything from roads ("execrable London pavement" Sir Walter Scott) to food ("The coffee in the station house was ... execrable." Clarence Day) to, inevitably, the weather ("the execrable weather of the past fortnight" The (London) Evening Standard).

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