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.
December 6th, 2015
Episode 393 of 900 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 06, 2015 is: menorah \muh-NOR-uh\ noun : a candelabra with seven or nine lights that is used in Jewish worship Examples: At sundown on the first night of Hanukkah, Joshua's father helped him light the first candle on the menorah. "Tens of thousands of people come out for the celebration, which includes the lighting of the state's largest menorah (an eighteen-foot steel stunner) and a performance by famed Jewish musician Avraham Fried." Brooke Porter Katz, Atlanta Magazine, 1 Nov. 2015 Did you know? English speakers originally used the Hebrew borrowing menorah for the seven-branched candelabra used in Jewish worship since ancient times. The nine-branched Hanukkah candelabra is called hanukkiah in Hebrew, but English speakers have come to use menorah for this candelabra too. The Hanukkah menorah recalls the expulsion by Judas Maccabaeus of invading forces from the Temple of Jerusalem. Maccabaeus and his followers sought oil for the temple's menorah so that the sanctuary could be rededicated, but they found only enough oil for a single day. Miraculously, that tiny amount of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply could be obtained. The Hanukkah menorah includes a candle for each day the oil burned, plus the shammes, a "servant candle" that is used to light the others.