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.



June 14th, 2016

Episode 555 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 14, 2016 is: obtuse \ahb-TOOSS\ adjective 1 a : not pointed or acute : blunt b : exceeding 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees c : having an obtuse angle 2 a : lacking sharpness or quickness of sensibility or intellect : insensitive, stupid b : difficult to comprehend : not clear or precise in thought or expression Examples: "A wrinkled brow or wrinkled nose in response to someone volunteering life-changing news, imbued with hope for change, is the domain of the ignorant, the determinedly obtuse or the bigot." — Nicky Clark, The Independent (London), 8 Mar. 2016 "The angled walls and obtuse openings led to gallery areas beyond and made for a private and original environment that gave booths a more secluded and comfortable feeling." — Greg Smith, Antiques and The Arts Weekly, 18 May 2016 Did you know? Obtuse, which comes to us from the Latin word obtusus, meaning "dull" or "blunt," can describe an angle that is not acute or a person who is mentally "dull" or slow of mind. The word has also developed a somewhat controversial sense of "hard to comprehend," probably as a result of confusion with abstruse. This sense of obtuse is well established, and it is now possible to speak of "obtuse language" and "obtuse explanations," as well as "obtuse angles" and "obtuse readers"; however, it may attract some criticism. If you're hesitant about using new meanings of words, you should probably stick with abstruse when you want a word meaning "difficult to understand."

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