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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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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.

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majuscule

July 12th, 2015

Episode 254 of 720 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 12, 2015 is: majuscule \MAJ-uh-skyool\ noun : a large letter (such as a capital) Examples: I can always recognize my brother's handwriting at a quick glance based on how elaborately the majuscules are formed and how they dwarf the other letters. "But it's hard to begrudge Souza his glittering life, in large part because no one seems more innocently awed by it all than the man himself. (Consider the euphoric hashtags, such as #sobeautiful, and the all-caps captions that he favors; in Souza's world, nearly everything merits majuscules.)" Robert Haskell, Condé Nast Traveler, March 2015 Did you know? Majuscule looks like the complement to minuscule, and the resemblance is no coincidence. Minuscule appeared in the early 18th century as a word for a lowercase letter, then later as the word for certain ancient and medieval writing styles which had "small forms." Minuscule then acquired a more general adjectival use for anything very small. Majuscule is the counterpart to minuscule when it comes to letters, but it never developed a broader sense (despite the fact that its Latin ancestor majusculus has the broad meaning "rather large"). The adjective majuscule also exists (as does majuscular). Not surprisingly, the adjective shares the noun's specificity, referring only to large letters or to a style using such letters.

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