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 8th, 2015
Episode 189 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 08, 2015 is: louche \LOOSH\ adjective : not reputable or decent Examples: The man was nicely dressed but had a hard-boiled, louche look about him that raised suspicion. "However louche Los Angeles' image may be, it remains a puritanical city in a puritanical state. California caps the number of bar licenses at one for every 2,000 residents. That number hasn't changed since 1939." Josh Stephens, Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2015 Did you know? Louche ultimately comes from the Latin word luscus, meaning "blind in one eye" or "having poor sight." This Latin term gave rise to the French louche, meaning "squinting" or "cross-eyed." The French gave their term a figurative sense as well, taking that squinty look to mean "shady" or "devious." English speakers didn't see the need for the sight-impaired uses when they borrowed the term in the 19th century, but they kept the figurative one. The word is still quite visible today and is used to describe both people and things of questionable repute.