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.
August 5th, 2016
Episode 607 of 720 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 5, 2016 is: kith \KITH\ noun : familiar friends, neighbors, or relatives Examples: "The joy of returning to kith and kinwas greater than all her former joys. … Never before … had Shelby seen such an outpouring of affection." — Dorothy West, The Wedding, 1995 "Cooking and sharing food are inseparable. Our labor in the kitchen culminates not in profit but in praise … and it makes sweating in the kitchen worth it—the more so when kithand kin … gather around a holiday table." — Ken Albala, The San Francisco Chronicle, 23 Nov. 2014 Did you know? Kith has had many meanings over the years. In its earliest uses it referred to knowledge of something, but that meaning died out in the 1400s. Another sense, "one's native land," had come and gone by the early 1500s. The sense "friends, fellow countrymen, or neighbors" developed before the 12th century and was sometimes used as a synonym of kinsfolk. That last sense got kith into hot water after people began using the word in the alliterative phrase "kith and kin." Over the years, usage commentators have complained that kith means the same thing as kin, so "kith and kin" is redundant. Clearly, they have overlooked some other historical definitions, but if you want to avoid redundancy charges, be sure to include friends as well as relatives among your "kith and kin."