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.



December 28th, 2015

Episode 407 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 28, 2015 is: kinesics \kuh-NEE-siks\ noun : a systematic study of the relationship between nonlinguistic body motions (such as blushes, shrugs, or eye movement) and communication Examples: "[St. Vincent] wasn't shy about striking the classic guitar idol kinesics … —chin up and out, eyelids in some fickle, fluttering state between open and shut, her guitar neck curiously lighter than air." — Ryan Snyder, Yes! Weekly, 12 Mar. 2014 "Kinesics experts read body language. They determine a baseline, then use slight, sometimes nearly invisible, variations in posture and delivery, looking for clusters of signals that could suggest if someone is lying." — Drew Loftis, The New York Post, 24 Oct. 2015 Did you know? Anthropologists began to take serious interest in nonverbal communication through gestures, postures, and facial expressions in the 1940s. It is believed, however, that the publication of Ray Birdwhistell’s 1952 book Introduction to Kinesics marked the beginning of formal research into what we know familiarly as "body language." Over 60 years later, the results of kinesics are deeply entrenched in our culture, giving us a whole new language with which to interpret everyday encounters and interactions.

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