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.
August 25th, 2016
Episode 627 of 874 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 25, 2016 is: notch \NAHTCH\ noun 1 a : a V-shaped indentation b : a slit made to serve as a record c : a rounded indentation cut into the pages of a book on the edge opposite the spine 2 : a deep close pass : gap 3 : degree, step Examples: The angle of the futon can be adjusted by inserting the pin into one of three notches. "You're about to start a race or step onstage, and you want to knock it out of the park. … Revving up … is pretty easy: Do a few jumping jacks, or whatever gets your blood pumping. Need to take things down a notch(or 20)? Inhaledeeply. Research shows that it can significantly calm you down." — Jeanine Detz, Self, July/August 2016 Did you know? Occasionally, you might hear a child ask for a "napple," as in "I would like a napple," mistaking the phrase "an apple" for "a napple." A similar error is believed to be behind notch, which may have resulted from a misdivision of "an otch." (Otch is a noun that is assumed to have existed in earlier English as a borrowing of Middle French oche, meaning "an incision made to keep a record.") Notch would not be alone in developing from such a mistake. The words newt and nickname were formed, respectively, from misdivisions of "an ewte" and "an ekename." Going in the other direction, umpire first appears in Middle English as oumpere, a mistaken rendering of "a noumpere."