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.



October 3rd, 2015

Episode 338 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 03, 2015 is: haplology \hap-LAH-luh-jee\ noun : contraction of a word by omission of one or more similar sounds or syllables Examples: The speech therapist assured the child's parents that "the tendency towards haplology will likely correct itself with age." "Haplology is responsible for a variety of forms found in rapid speech in English: not just probly, but also libry (library), nesry (necessary), interpretive (interpretative), and others." Gretchen McCulloch, Slate.com, 4 Apr. 2014 Did you know? Try to say "pierced-ear earrings" three times fast. That exercise will demonstrate why haplology happens: sometimes it's just easier to drop a syllable and leave yourself with something that's easier to say (such as "pierced earrings"). American philologist Maurice Bloomfield recognized the tendency to drop one of a pair of similar syllables over 120 years ago. He has been credited with joining the combining form hapl- or haplo- (meaning "single") with -logy (meaning "oral or written expression") to create haplology as a name for the phenomenon. Haplology is quite common in English, and often the contracted forms it generates spread into the written language. In fact, haplology played a role in naming the nation that is the cradle of English: England was condensed via haplology from "Engla land."