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 24th, 2014
Episode 25 of 794 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 24, 2014 is: Job's comforter \JOHBZ-KUM-fer-ter\ noun : a person who discourages or depresses while seemingly giving comfort and consolation Examples: Danny, a reliable Job's comforter, assured Shane that the girl who'd broken his heart had always been out of his league. "It's a blessing for me, he said, that my joints are frozen solid with the arthritis, because if I tried to run around like I used to, my heart would give out sure. I told him he was a Job's comforter, what good is keeping my heart going like a watch that won't tell time if I can't get up and cook." Ross Macdonald, The Ivory Grin, 1952 Did you know? Poor Job. He's the biblical character who endures extraordinary afflictions in a test of his piety. He loses his possessions, his children, and his health. And then, to make matters worse, three friends show up to "comfort" him. These friends turn out to be no comfort at all. Instead, they say that the things that have been happening to him happen to all sinnersand point out a number of his faults. In the mid-18th century, English speakers began using the phrase "Job's comforter" for anyone who offers similarly unhelpful consolation.