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 2nd, 2016

Episode 512 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 2, 2016 is: moil \MOYL\ verb 1 : to work hard : drudge 2 : to be in continuous agitation : churn, swirl Examples: Revelations that the popular motivational speaker was born into a wealthy family cast further doubts on his claims that he holds the secret to finding wealth without the need to toil and moil. "Playwright Eugene O'Neill moiled over several works, including 'Strange Interlude,' in a summer rental cottage you'll pass if you're on the historical walking tour." — Susan Bayer Ward, The Chicago Daily Herald, 15 May 2005 Did you know? Moil may mean "to work hard" but its origins are the opposite of hard; it ultimately derives from Latin mollis, meaning "soft." (Other English derivatives of mollis are emollient, mollify, and mollusk.) A more immediate ancestor of moil is the Anglo-French verb moiller, meaning "to make wet, dampen," and one of the early meanings of moil in English was "to become wet and muddy." The "work hard" sense of moil appears most frequently in the pairing "toil and moil." Both moil and toil can also be nouns meaning "work." Moil implies work that is drudgery and toil suggests prolonged and fatiguing labor.

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