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.



December 14th, 2015

Episode 401 of 688 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 14, 2015 is: fulminate \FULL-muh-nayt\ verb : to complain loudly or angrily : to send forth censures or invectives Examples: An avid cyclist, Justine would often fulminate against automobile drivers who ignored bike lanes and otherwise created hazards for those riding on two wheels. "We say we value memoirs and other nonfiction works precisely because they tell us what really happened. Then, when the amazing true story turns out to be a bit less than absolutely true, some of us fulminate about it for a while, even as countless more continue to pony up for the tale." Laura Miller, Salon, 9 June 2015 Did you know? Lightning strikes more than once in the history of fulminate. That word comes from the Latin fulminare, meaning "to strike," a verb usually used to refer to lightning strikesnot surprising since it sprang from fulmen, Latin for "lightning." When fulminate was adopted into English in the 15th century, it lost much of its ancestral thunder and was used largely as a technical term for the issuing of formal denunciations by ecclesiastical authorities. But its original lightning spark remains in its suggestion of tirades so vigorous that, as one 18th-century bishop put it, they seem to be delivered "with the air of one who [has] divine Vengeance at his disposal."

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