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 7th, 2016
Episode 670 of 790 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 7, 2016 is: macadam \muh-KAD-um\ noun : a roadway or pavement of small closely packed broken stone Examples: The sloping, curved street saw light traffic and had a smooth macadam surface that made it popular with skateboarders. "Littered on the beach are nearly a dozen big slabs ofmacadamand even larger chunks of concrete that have slid down the cliff." — Chris Burrell, The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Massachusetts), 20 Aug. 2016 Did you know? In 1783, inventor John Loudon McAdam returned to his native Scotland after amassing a fortune in New York City. He became the road trustee for his district and quickly set his inventiveness to remedying the terrible condition of local roads. After numerous experiments, he created a new road surfacing material made of bits of stone that became compressed into a solid mass as traffic passed over them. His invention revolutionized road construction and transportation, and engineers and the public alike honored him by using his name (respelled macadam) as a generic term for the material or pavement made from it. He is further immortalized in the verb macadamize, which names the process of installing macadam on a road.