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 15th, 2015
Episode 227 of 830 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 15, 2015 is: gossamer \GAH-suh-mer\ adjective : extremely light, delicate, or tenuous Examples: Except for a few gossamer clouds, the sky was clear and blue. "On two screens, she watched herself spin in a green field, gossamer wings floating off her body." Melena Ryzik, New York Times, March 3, 2015 Did you know? In the days of Middle English, a period of mild weather in late autumn or early winter was sometimes called a gossomer, literally "goose summer." People may have chosen that name for a late-season warm spell because October and November were the months when people felt that geese were at their best for eating. Gossomer was also used in Middle English as a word for filmy cobwebs floating through the air in calm, clear weather, apparently because somebody thought the webs looked like the down of a goose. This sense eventually inspired the adjective gossamer, which means "light, delicate, or tenuous"just like cobwebs or goose down.