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.



December 20th, 2014

Episode 51 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 20, 2014 is: nurture \NER-cher\ verb 1 : to supply with nourishment 2 : to educate 3 : to further the development of : foster Examples: The mayor pushed for tax credits for small businesses as a way to nurture economic growth. "In the late 1970s, a program was launched at the National Marine Fisheries laboratory in Galveston to nurture hatchlings that would instinctively return to beaches on Padre Island." Harvey Rice, Houston Chronicle, November 18, 2014 Did you know? It's no coincidence that nurture is a synonym of nourishboth are derived from the Latin verb nutrire, meaning "to suckle" or "to nourish." The noun nurture first appeared in English in the 14th century, but the verb didn't arrive until the 15th century. Originally, the verb nurture meant "to feed or nourish." The sense meaning "to promote the development of" didn't come into being until the end of the 18th century. Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, is credited with first giving life to that sense in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792): "Public spirit must be nurtured by private virtue." Other nutrire descendants in English include nutrient, nutritious, nutriment, nutrition, and, of course, nourishment.