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 10th, 2016
Episode 581 of 720 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 10, 2016 is: iconoclast \eye-KAH-nuh-klast\ noun 1 : a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration 2 : a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions Examples: "Hollywood loves trotting out some irascible iconoclastwho denies love's potency, only to have them felled by their own emotion like a sapling in a hurricane." — Piers Marchant, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 20 May 2016 "But the two men are … both unrepentant iconoclasts and gleeful disrupters of art world conventions. Warhol scandalized with his soup cans in 1962; three decades later, Mr. Ai defiled neolithic Chinese pottery with tutti-frutti-colored paint…." — Andrew Jacobs, The New York Times, 4 June 2016 Did you know? Iconoclast is a word that often shows up on vocabulary lists and College Board tests. How will you remember the meaning of this vocabulary-boosting term? If you already know the word icon, you're halfway there. An icon is a picture that represents something. The most common icons today are those little images on our computers and smartphones that represent a program or function, but in the still-recent past, the most common icons were religious images. Icon comes from the Greek eikōn, which is from eikenai, meaning "to resemble." Iconoclast comes to us by way of Medieval Latin from Middle Greek eikonoklastēs, which joins eikōn with a form of the word klan, meaning "to break." Iconoclast literally means "image destroyer."