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.
November 27th, 2015
Episode 384 of 903 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 27, 2015 is: minatory \MIN-uh-tor-ee\ adjective : having a menacing quality Examples: In the moonlight, the twisted winter trees took on a particularly baleful and minatory appearance. "No one likes to hear or heed prophets of doom, but history is replete with them. The minatory mutterings of the Delphic Oracle were often unheeded by the Greeks." Brian Roche, Redlands (California) Daily Facts, 28 Sept. 2015 Did you know? Knowing that minatory means "threatening," can you take a guess at a related word? If you're familiar with mythology, perhaps you guessed Minotaur, the name of the bull-headed, people-eating monster of Crete. Minotaur is a good guess, but as terrifying as the monster sounds, its name isn't related to today's word. The relative we're searching for is actually menace. Minatory and menace both come from derivatives of the Latin verb minari, which means "to threaten." Minatory was borrowed directly from Late Latin minatorius. Menace came to English via Anglo-French manace, menace, which came from Latin minac-, minax, meaning "threatening."