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 14th, 2015
Episode 195 of 828 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 14, 2015 is: jinni \JEE-nee\ noun 1 : one of a class of spirits that according to Muslim demonology inhabit the earth, assume various forms, and exercise supernatural power 2 : a magic spirit believed to take human form and serve the person who calls it : genie Examples: "Onstage, she was electric. She was like some sort of jinni, a supernatural force of some sort." Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 2014 "A knockoff 'Bewitched' in which Hagman played Maj. Anthony Nelson, a bachelor astronaut more or less cohabiting with curvaceous female jinni Barbara Eden, who called him 'Master,' the series, which was risqué in a way about to become outdated, ran from 1965 to 1970." Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2012 Did you know? Is that jinni or jinn? Djinni or djinn? Adopted from an Arabic word for demon (usually represented in our alphabet as jinnī), this word is spelled a variety of ways in Englishincluding genie, a spelling that comes from the same Arabic word but by way of French. All of those variant spellings are used to describe a supernatural spirit from Arabic mythology that is made of fire or air and can assume human or animal form. Mythology holds that jinn (that's the plural of jinni) love to punish humans for any harm done to them and that they are the cause of many accidents and diseases.