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.
October 3rd, 2016
Episode 666 of 830 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 3, 2016 is: guerdon \GUR-dun\ noun : reward, recompense Examples: "The big hurdle … was early promotion to captain.… This early promotion, this small dry irrevocable statistic in the record, was his guerdon for a quarter of a century of getting things done." — Herman Wouk, The Winds of War, 1971 "The guerdon in attending a repertory company's concert is being able to savor the variety of work on display." — Juan Michael Porter II, Broadway World, 7 June 2016 Did you know? Guerdon dates back to the 14th century, when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in The Romaunt of the Rose (ca. 1366): "He quitte him wel his guerdon there." It derives from Anglo-French and is thought to be related to the Old High German widarlōn, meaning "reward." Shakespeare used guerdon a couple of times in his plays. In Love's Labour's Lost, for example, Berowne, attendant to King Ferdinand, sends the clown Costard to deliver a letter to Rosaline, attendant to the princess of France, handing him a shilling with the line, "There's thy guerdon; go." Guerdon is a rare word today, but contemporary writers do use it on occasion for poetic effect.