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.
October 11th, 2015
Episode 346 of 900 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 11, 2015 is: luminary \LOO-muh-nair-ee\ noun 1 : a person of prominence or brilliant achievement 2 : a body that gives light; especially : one of the celestial bodies Examples: The marble wall facing the entrance to the school's science building is engraved with the names of luminaries from the fields of chemistry, physics, and biology. "I chose the 350-seat grand dining room of the Ahwahnee Hotel, built in 1926 and now a national landmark. Many luminaries have stayed there including Queen Elizabeth II and U.S. presidents and their families." Tom Marshall, The Naples (Florida) Daily News, 9 Aug. 2015 Did you know? Allow us to shed some light on luminary. It came to English by way of Anglo-French and Late Latin, and it traces back to the Latin word lumen, meaning "light." Other lumen descendants in English include illuminate ("to light up"), luminous ("emitting light") and phillumenist ("one who collects matchbooks or matchbox labels"). Luminary has been shining its light in English since the 15th century.