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.



June 12th, 2015

Episode 224 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 12, 2015 is: jeopardy \JEP-er-dee\ noun 1 : exposure to death, loss, or injury : danger 2 : the danger that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense Examples: Rather than risk placing his passengers in jeopardy, the pilot waited for the storm to pass before taking off. "Unless they have already accumulated substantial wealth, retirees typically are anxious to know how much they can afford to spend without putting the latter end of their retirement years in financial jeopardy." John Napolitano, Accounting Today, May 1, 2015 Did you know? Centuries ago, the Old French term jeuparti didn't mean "danger" but rather "an alternative" or, literally, "a divided game." That French expression was used for anything that represented an alternative viewpoint or gave two opposing viewpoints. Jeuparti passed into Anglo-French as juparti, and from there it was borrowed into Middle English and respelled jeopardie. At first, the English word was used to refer to the risks associated with alternative moves in the game of chess. Almost immediately, however, the term came to be used more generally in the "risk" or "danger" sense that it has today.