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.
January 10th, 2016
Episode 420 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 10, 2016 is: ignominious \ig-nuh-MIN-ee-us\ adjective 1 : marked with or characterized by disgrace or shame : dishonorable 2 : deserving of shame or infamy : despicable 3 : humiliating, degrading Examples: "[People's] first issue appeared in March of 1974—two years after the ignominious shuttering of the weekly Life—and it was an immediate sensation, drawing more than 900,000 readers from the outset." — Jim Windolf, Vanity Fair, 16 Oct. 2013 "It made no difference that the doctor had said the cornea would heal. I didn't believe him. Howignominiousto be blinded by a squash racquet." — Rosemary Mahoney, For the Benefit of Those Who See, 2014 Did you know? The -nom- of ignominious comes from nomen, the Latin word for "name" or "repute." (Nomen is also the root of misnomer, nomenclature, and nominal, among others.) The ig- part of the word is akin to the negative prefix in-; when joined to the root -nom-, it indicates the namelessness that goes with shame or dishonor. To suffer an ignominious fate is to lose the opportunity to make a name for oneself or to lose one's good name. When ignominious was first borrowed from a French form of the word in the 15th century, it meant "disgraced" or "dishonorable." The word continues to have such meanings, but it also has the somewhat milder meanings of "embarrassing" and "humiliating."