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.



February 10th, 2016

Episode 445 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 10, 2016 is: gruntle \GRUN-tul\ verb : to put in a good humor Examples: The hour-long wait at the restaurant irked us, but once we were seated, we were soon gruntled by an amiable waiter. "I returned to my interrupted slumber in a mood far from gruntled. It was an injury to my amour propre to realize that in the Whitcomb affair I had been a small cog on a large wheel." — Lawrence Sanders, McNally's Trial, 1995 Did you know? The verb disgruntle, which has been around since 1682, means "to make ill-humored or discontented." The prefix dis- often means "to do the opposite of," so people might naturally assume that if there is a disgruntle, there must have first been a gruntle with exactly the opposite meaning. But dis- doesn't always work that way; in some rare cases it functions instead as an intensifier. Disgruntle developed from this intensifying sense of dis- plus gruntle, an old word (now used only in British dialect) meaning "to grumble." In the 1920s, a writer humorously used gruntle to mean "to make happy"—in other words, as an antonym of disgruntle. The use caught on. At first gruntle was used only in humorous ways, but people eventually began to use it seriously as well.