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.
February 17th, 2016
Episode 452 of 823 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 17, 2016 is: nimrod \NIM-rahd\ noun 1 : hunter 2 : idiot, jerk Examples: "The hunting season is now in full blast. Severalnimrods,both veteran and amateur, are shouldering the gun and marching to the woods and marshes." — Gary Pullano, The Holland (Michigan) Sentinel, 13 Dec. 2015 "The stereotypical cast for the film-within-the-film cleverly overacts and paints their obnoxious characters as helplessnimrods." — Alex Pelham, The Daily Texan (University of Texas), 14 Mar. 2015 Did you know? The word nimrod gets its start in the Bible: Nimrod was king of a country known as Shinar, and he's described in Genesis as "the first on earth to be a mighty man" and "a mighty hunter before the Lord." English speakers of the 16th century didn't think Nimrod was particularly benevolent; they used his name as a synonym of "tyrant"—a meaning that is now obsolete. In the 17th century, English speakers began using nimrod as a generic term for any hunter. That meaning is not especially common today but it's still encountered occasionally, especially in hunting and fishing journalism. The legendary Nimrod is also sometimes associated with the attempt to build the Tower of Babel. Because the tower resulted in the wrath of the Lord and proved a disastrous idea, nimrod is currently used with yet another meaning: "a stupid person."