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 21st, 2014

Episode 52 of 688 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 21, 2014 is: palinode \PAL-uh-nohd\ noun 1 : an ode or song recanting or retracting something in an earlier poem 2 : a formal retraction Examples: Oscar Wilde wrote this famous palinode in an introduction to an essay: "Not that I agree with everything that I have said in this essay. There is much with which I entirely disagree." "My Life Among the Deathworks is a monumental palinode, designed to unwrite the book that made [Philip] Rieff's name." Adam Kirsch, New York Sun, March 7, 2007 Did you know? Does singing someone's praises in a palinode pay off? It did in the case of Stesichorus, a Greek poet of the 6th century B.C. According to Plato, old Stesichorus was struck blind after writing a poem insulting Helen of Troy, but his sight was restored after he wrote an apologetic palinode. That poet was only too glad to apply the Greek word palinoidia (a compound of palin, meaning "back" or "again," and aeidein, meaning "to sing"). So were 16th-century English poets, who borrowed and modified the Greek term to refer to odes of their own.

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