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.



May 25th, 2016

Episode 535 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 25, 2016 is: jeopardize \JEP-er-dyze\ verb : to expose to danger or risk : imperil Examples: Jerry was warned that a continued decrease in his sales performance could jeopardize his chances for a promotion. "The bill grew out of a problem that has developed in north central Connecticut, where cracking foundations havejeopardizedthe stability of more than 150 homes, according to homeowners who have filed complaints with state officials." — Kathleen McWilliams, The Hartford (Connecticut) Courant, 8 Apr. 2016 Did you know? It may be hard to believe that jeopardize was once controversial, but in 1870 a grammarian called it "a foolish and intolerable word," a view shared by many 19th-century critics. The preferred word was jeopard, which first appeared in print in the 14th century. (The upstart jeopardize turned up in 1582.) In 1828, Noah Webster himself declared jeopardize to be "a modern word, used by respectable writers in America, but synonymous with 'jeopard,' and therefore useless." Unfortunately for the champions of jeopard, jeopardize is now much more popular.