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.



June 22nd, 2016

Episode 563 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 22, 2016 is: feign \FAYN\ verb 1 : to give a false appearance of : to induce as a false impression 2 : to assert as if true : pretend Examples: "If a predator approaches the nest, the parent feignsa broken wing, often leading the predator far from the nest before bursting into flight, the injured wing suddenly fully functional." — Jan Bergstrom, The St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times, 7 May 2016 "The local high school … wasn't of particularly high quality, and I was not intellectually stimulated or motivated there. In fact, I became disinterested, started skipping class and feigningillness to avoid going to school." — Brian Calle, The Orange County (California) Register, 8 May 2016 Did you know? Feign is all about faking it, but that hasn't always been so. In one of its earliest senses, feign meant "to fashion, form, or shape." That meaning is true to the term's Latin ancestor: the verb fingere, which also means "to shape." The current senses of feign still retain the essence of the Latin source, since to feign something, such as surprise or an illness, requires one to fashion an impression or shape an image. Several other English words that trace to the same ancestor refer to things that are shaped with either the hands, as in figure and effigy, or the imagination, as in fiction and figment.