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 21st, 2016
Episode 480 of 681 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 21, 2016 is: farraginous \fuh-RAJ-uh-nus\ adjective : consisting of a confused mixture : formed of various materials in no fixed order or arrangement Examples: The large box at the hotel's lost and found desk contained a farraginous assortment of hats, umbrellas, cell phones, and other personal items. "The next noise was the resonant but farraginous sound of twisted metal; a nightmarish squeal followed by eerie silence, as if the night held its breath with me." — Patti Callahan Henry, Coming up for Air, 2011 Did you know? Farraginous is the adjective connected with farrago. In Latin, the stem farragin- and the noun farrago both mean "mixture" and, more specifically, "a mixture of grains for cattle feed." They derive from far, the Latin name for spelt, a type of grain. In the 1600s, English speakers began using farrago as a noun meaning "hodgepodge" and farraginous as an adjective meaning "consisting of a mixture." The creation of the adjective was simply a matter of adding the adjectival suffix -ous to farragin- (although at least one writer had previously experimented with farraginary, employing a different adjectival suffix).