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.



July 13th, 2016

Episode 584 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 13, 2016 is: natant \NAY-tunt\ adjective : swimming or floating in water Examples: The pond was quiet, though occasionally a fish would rise to make a little splash among the natant lily pads. "The life cycle of spiny lobsters consists of two major phases: a lengthy planktonic larval phase that develops in oceanic water, and a benthic phase that begins when thenatant post-larvae … settle onto some benthic habitat." — Patricia Briones-Fourzán and Enrique Lozano-Álvarez, in Lobsters: Biology, Management, Aquaculture and Fisheries, 2013 Did you know? Natant and the smattering of other words birthed in the waters of Latin natare, meaning "to swim," can sound overly formal in many contexts. Rather than use the word natatorium, for example, we're more likely to refer simply to an indoor swimming pool. Similarly, instead of complimenting a friend's skills in natation, you're probably more apt to tell her she's a good swimmer. The common German-derived word swimming suits most of us just fine. Science, though, often prefers Latin, which is why you're most likely to encounter natare words in scientific contexts.