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.
October 14th, 2016
Episode 677 of 681 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 14, 2016 is: nemesis \NEM-uh-siss\ noun 1 a : one that inflicts retribution or vengeance b : a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent 2 a : an act or effect of retribution b : a source of harm or ruin : curse Examples: "My nemesis was a young woman who, at the end of the film, had the honour of sending me to my doom at the bottom of a well. Her name meant nothing to me then: Jennifer Aniston." — Warwick Davis, Dailymail.com, 10 Apr. 2010 "The leaves were pale … and, upon closer inspection, the stems had small nibble marks on them. I immediately suspected slugs since they've been my nemesis in the past so I sprang into action." — Susan Mulvihill, The Spokesman Review (Spokane, Washington), 21 Aug. 2016 Did you know? Nemesis was the Greek goddess of vengeance, a deity who doled out rewards for noble acts and punishment for evil ones. The Greeks believed that Nemesis didn't always punish an offender immediately but might wait generations to avenge a crime. In English, nemesis originally referred to someone who brought a just retribution, but nowadays people are more likely to see animosity than justice in the actions of a nemesis.