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.
November 17th, 2015
Episode 383 of 903 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 17, 2015 is: inviolable \in-VYE-uh-luh-bul\ adjective 1 : secure from violation or profanation 2 : secure from assault or trespass : unassailable Examples: The senator agreed to an interview on the basis of a set of clear and inviolable rules about what she would and would not answer. "Perhaps M Train represents the attempt by someone whose career is as public as can be imagined to stake out a zone of inviolable privacy, albeit through the public act of writing a book meant for publication." Geoffrey OBrien, The New York Review of Books, 22 Oct. 2015 Did you know? Inviolable is a venerable word that has been with us since the 15th century. Its opposite, violable ("capable of being or likely to be violated") appeared a century later. The English playwright Shackerley Marmion made good use of violable in A Fine Companion in 1633, writing, "Alas, my heart is Tender and violable with the least weapon Sorrow can dart at me." But English speakers have never warmed up to that word the way we have to inviolable, and it continues to be used much less frequently. Both terms descend from Latin violare, which both shares the meaning and is an ancestor of the English word violate.