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.



May 26th, 2016

Episode 536 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 26, 2016 is: milquetoast \MILK-tohst\ noun : a timid, meek, or unassertive person Examples: Brian was such a milquetoast that he agreed to work extra hours on Sunday even though he had already told his boss that he needed that day off. "Aristotle said that virtue is the mean between the extremes of deficiency and excess. When someone steals your parking spot, you're virtuous if you're neither a milquetoastnor a madman, but something in between...." — Ruth Chang, The San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Nov. 2015 Did you know? Caspar Milquetoast was a comic strip character created in 1924 by the American cartoonist Harold T. Webster. The strip, called "The Timid Soul," ran every Sunday in the New York Herald Tribune for many years. Webster, who claimed that Milquetoast was a self-portrait, summed up the character as "the man who speaks softly and gets hit with a big stick." The earliest examples for Milquetoast used as a generic synonym for "timid person" date from the mid-1930s. Caspar's last name might remind you of "milk toast," a bland concoction of buttered toast served in a dish of warm milk.

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