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 26th, 2016
Episode 485 of 718 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 26, 2016 is: mirage \muh-RAHZH\ noun 1 : an illusion sometimes seen at sea, in the desert, or over hot pavement that looks like a pool of water or a mirror in which distant objects are seen inverted 2 : something illusory and unattainable like a mirage Examples: The members of the caravan thought they spied water ahead, but it turned out to be a mirage. "Apparently, my [computer science] major lets me magically solve people's technical problems, even if I haven't been explicitly trained how to do so. It seems like the field is shrouded in esotericism. That impression, however, is really just a mirage." — Keshav Tadimeti, The Daily Bruin (University of California, Los Angeles), 8 Feb. 2016 Did you know? A mirage is a sort of optical illusion, a reflection of light that can trick the mind into interpreting the sight as an apparently solid thing. It makes sense, therefore, that the word mirage has its roots in the concept of vision. Mirage was borrowed into English at the dawn of the 19th century from the French verb mirer ("to look at"), which also gave us the word mirror. Mirer in turn derives from Latin mirari ("to wonder at"). Mirari is also the ancestor of the English words admire, miracle, and marvel, as well as the rare adjective mirific (meaning "marvelous").