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.
March 15th, 2015
Episode 136 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 15, 2015 is: huckster \HUCK-ster\ noun 1 : hawker, peddler 2 : one who produces promotional material for commercial clients especially for radio or television 3 : someone who sells or advertises something in an aggressive, dishonest, or annoying way Examples: Olivia protested futilely as her brother handed over his allowance to a huckster who was dealing in cheap magic tricks. "If I have one complaint with this wonderful cruise, it would be with the hucksters bringing popcorn and enormous expensive smoothies up and down the aisles of the theater to sell to children who had just had dinner and dessert." Julie Hatfield, Boston Globe, February 15, 2015 Did you know? Hawkers, peddlers, and hucksters have been selling things out of the back of wagons, in narrow alleys, and on the fringes of towns for years (though nowadays, they're more likely to plug their wares on television or the Internet). Of those three wordshawker, peddler, and hucksterthe one that has been around the longest in English is huckster. It has been with us for over 800 years, and it derives from the Middle Dutch word hokester, which in turn comes from the verb hoeken, meaning "to peddle." Peddler (or pedlar) was first attested in the 14th century, and the pertinent sense of hawker has only been appearing in English texts since the early 1500s.