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.
January 22nd, 2015
Episode 84 of 793 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 22, 2015 is: morganatic \mor-guh-NAT-ik\ adjective : of, relating to, or being a marriage between a member of a royal or noble family and a person of inferior rank in which the rank of the inferior partner remains unchanged and the children of the marriage do not succeed to the titles, fiefs, or entailed property of the parent of higher rank Examples: The king's son, the child of a morganatic marriage, will never rule. "His marriage, when it came, was anything but conventional: a long-lasting morganatic alliance to actress Louisa Fairbrother, which produced several children but was never recognized by the queen." Martin Rubin, The Washington Times, January 9, 2014 Did you know? Although the deprivations imposed on the lower-ranking spouse by a morganatic marriage may seem like a royal pain in the neck, the word morganatic actually comes from a word for a marriage benefit. The New Latin term morganatica means "morning gift" and refers to a gift that a new husband traditionally gave to his bride on the morning after the marriage. So why was the New Latin phrase matrimonium ad morganaticam, which means literally "marriage with morning gift," the term for a morganatic marriage? Because it was just thatthe wife got the morning gift, but that's all she was entitled to of her husband's possessions.