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 23rd, 2016
Episode 432 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 23, 2016 is: gravitate \GRAV-uh-tayt\ verb 1 : to move under the influence of gravitation 2 a : to move toward something b : to be drawn or attracted especially by natural inclination Examples: After we were finished with our second helpings of chili and cornbread, we naturally gravitated toward the dessert table to check out the sweeter offerings. "Consumers gravitating toward large cars are frequently lured in by the perception of security rooted in the physical size." — Benson Kong, MotorTrend.com, 16 Dec. 2015 Did you know? Gravity, gravitation, and gravitate descend from the Latin gravitas, meaning "weight." The first to arrive on the scene was gravity, which appeared in the early 16th century. (Originally meaning "dignity or sobriety of bearing," it quickly came to mean "weight" as well.) Next came gravitation (used to describe the force of gravity) and gravitate—both mid-17th century arrivals. Gravitate once meant "to apply weight or pressure," but that use is now obsolete. In the late 17th century, it was recorded in the sense "to move under the effect of gravitation." It then acquired a more general sense of "to move toward something" (such as toward a specific location), and finally a metaphorical sense of "to be attracted" (as toward a person or a vocation).