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.
January 18th, 2015
Episode 80 of 689 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 18, 2015 is: gratuitous \gruh-TOO-uh-tuss\ adjective 1 : done or provided without recompense : free 2 : not called for by the circumstances : unwarranted Examples: John seems incapable of talking about anything he owns without a gratuitous reference to the amount of money he spent on it. "Each gratuitous 'Mr.,' 'Mrs.,' 'Miss,' or 'Ms.' appeared not so much respectful as nostalgic, a yearning for a return to the days when all but the closest acquaintances addressed one another with titles and surnames." Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, December 10, 2014 Did you know? Like gratitude, grace, and congratulate, gratuitous is a descendant of the Latin word gratus, which means "pleasing" or "grateful." When gratuitous was first used in the middle of the 17th century, it meant "free" or "given without return benefit or compensation." The extended meaning "done without good reason" or "unwarranted" came about just a few decades later, perhaps from the belief held by some people that one should not give something without getting something in return. Today, that extended meaning is the more common sense, often used in such phrases as "a gratuitous insult" or to describe elements of a story that are not relevant to the plot.
Have you trembled ‘round the campfire as the ghost stories are told? Do tales of horrors wrought by nature and beyond strike fear in your soul? Is it best when you are afraid to turn out the light? Thrill to stories that strike at your deepest fears, as host Stephen Kilpatrick brings the best of horror fiction to your ears and your mind, read to you by the most chilling narrators that podcasting has to offer. <br /> <br /> Podcasting the finest in genre fiction, Tales to Terrify is where the depths of horror reveal the truths of good, evil, and the human spirit in the District of Wonders podcast network. Like all shows in the District of Wonders, Tales to Terrify is supported by a welcoming community of dedicated fans and contributors. Subscribe today, and begin your journey through the spine-tingling depths of storytelling.<br /> <br /> Everyone has a story in the District of Wonders. Come and find yours.