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.
March 1st, 2015
Episode 122 of 720 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 01, 2015 is: macaroni \mak-uh-ROH-nee\ noun 1 : pasta made from semolina and shaped in the form of slender tubes 2 : an affected young man : fop Examples: One of Tracy's favorite comfort foods is homemade macaroni and cheese. "He had been a macaroni of the eighteenth century, and the friend, in his youth, of Lord Ferrars." Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890 Did you know? As you may have suspected, the macaroni in the song "Yankee Doodle" is not the familiar food. The feather in Yankee Doodle's cap apparently makes him a macaroni in the now rare "fop" or "dandy" sense. The sense appears to have originated with a club established in London by a group of young, well-traveled Englishmen in the 1760s. The founders prided themselves on their appearance, sense of style, and manners, and they chose the name Macaroni Club to indicate their worldliness. Because macaroni was, at the time, a new and rather exotic food in England, the name was meant to demonstrate how stylish the club's members were. The members were themselves called macaronis, and eventually macaroni became synonymous with dandy and fop.