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.
July 31st, 2016
Episode 602 of 790 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 31, 2016 is: homily \HAH-muh-lee\ noun 1 : a usually short sermon 2 : a lecture or discourse on a moral theme 3 : an inspirational catchphrase; also : platitude Examples: The calendar features serene photographs captioned by inspirational proverbs and homilies. "Deacons are ordained ministers in the Catholic Church but do not have the rank of priest. They can give homilies and preside at weddings, funerals and baptisms, but they cannot celebrate Mass." — Tom Kington, The Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2016 Did you know? Gather around for the history of homily. The story starts with ancient Greek homilos, meaning "crowd" or "assembly." Greeks used homilos to create the verb homilein ("to consort with" or "to address"), as well as the noun homilia ("conversation"). Latin speakers borrowed homilia, then passed it on to Anglo-French. By the time it crossed into Middle English, the spelling had shifted to omelie, but by the mid-16th century the term had regained its "h" and the "y" of the modern spelling was added.