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.



April 21st, 2015

Episode 173 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 21, 2015 is: omnipotent \ahm-NIP-uh-tunt\ adjective : having virtually unlimited authority or influence Examples: Small children often believe their parents to be omnipotent, capable of commanding any situation or resolving any problem they find before them. "As test scores become the omnipotent factor in what determines an effective educator, a successful student, or the quality of a school, awe-inspired learning moments begin to pale in comparison to the urgency of bubbling in a correct answer." Laurie Futterman, Miami Herald, March 11, 2015 Did you know? The word omnipotent made its way into English through Anglo-French, but it ultimately derives from the Latin prefix omni-, meaning "all," and the word potens, meaning "potent." The omni- prefix has also given us similar words such as omniscient (meaning "all-knowing") and omnivorous (describing an animal that eats both plants and other animals). Although omnipotent is used in general contexts to mean "all-powerful" (as in "an omnipotent warlord"), its original applications in English referred specifically to the power held by an almighty God. The word has been used as an English adjective since the 14th century; since 1600 it has also been used as a noun referring to one who is omnipotent.

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