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 27th, 2014

Episode 58 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 27, 2014 is: opprobrium \uh-PROH-bree-um\ noun 1 : something that brings disgrace 2 a : public disgrace or ill fame that follows from conduct considered grossly wrong or vicious b : contempt, reproach Examples: The athlete's admission of using steroids earned her much opprobrium from fans. "People flocked here to break free from the shackles of conformity and societal opprobrium, experimenting in every field of human endeavor with little fear of official disdain." Gilbert Ross, New York Observer, October 21, 2014 Did you know? Opprobrium was borrowed into English from Latin in the 17th century. It came from the Latin verb opprobrare, which means "to reproach." That verb in turn came from the noun probrum, meaning "disgraceful act" or "reproach." These gave us opprobrium as well as its adjective form opprobrious, which means "scurrilous" or "infamous." One might commit an "opprobrious crime" or be berated with "opprobrious language." Probrum gave English another word too, but you might have a little trouble guessing it. It's exprobrate, an archaic synonym of censure and upbraid.