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.



September 2nd, 2015

Episode 307 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 02, 2015 is: immaculate \ih-MAK-yuh-lut\ adjective 1 : having no stain or blemish : pure 2 : containing no flaw or error 3 a : spotlessly clean b : having no colored spots or marks Examples: Even a minor scandal has the power to tarnish an immaculate reputation. "After showing me the different levels and rooms to choose from, and showing me the process by which the pods are fully cleaned after each use (the entire place was absolutely immaculate), David gestured towards a door behind the reception desk: 'Now one last very important part: the restroom!'" Lindsay Robertson, Gothamist (gothamist.com), 28 July 2015 Did you know? The opposite of immaculate is maculate, which means "marked with spots" or "impure." The Latin word maculatus, the past participle of a verb meaning "to stain," is the source of both words and can be traced back to macula, a word that scientists still use for spots on the skin, on the wings of insects, and on the surface of celestial objects. Maculate has not marked as many pages as immaculate, but it has appeared occasionally (one might say "spottily"), especially as an antithesis to immaculate. We find the pair, for example, in an article by Peter Schjeldahl in an April 2004 issue of The New Yorker: "Rob's apartment, with its immaculate ranks of album spines and its all too maculate strewing of everything else."