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.
June 21st, 2016
Episode 562 of 681 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 21, 2016 is: inchoate \in-KOH-ut\ adjective : being only partly in existence or operation : incipient; especially : imperfectly formed or formulated : formless, incoherent Examples: Five years ago, the restaurant was merely an inchoate notion in Nathan's head; today it is one of the most popular eateries in the city. "The nexus point in any populist upwelling is whether or not it evolves from an inchoate outrage into a legitimate movement." — Gene Altshuler, The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California), 2 Mar. 2016 Did you know? Inchoate derives from inchoare, which means "to start work on" in Latin but translates literally as "to hitch up." Inchoare was formed from the prefix in- and the noun cohum, which refers to the part of a yoke to which the beam of a plow is fitted. The concept of implementing this initial step toward the larger task of plowing a field can help provide a clearer understanding of inchoate, an adjective used to describe the imperfect form of something (such as a plan or idea) in its early stages of development. Perhaps because it looks a little like the word chaos (although the two aren't closely related), inchoate now not only implies the formlessness that often marks beginnings but also the confusion caused by chaos.