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.



September 22nd, 2016

Episode 655 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 22, 2016 is: palpable \PAL-puh-bul\ adjective 1 : capable of being touched or felt : tangible 2 : easily perceptible : noticeable 3 : easily perceptible by the mind : manifest Examples: The tension in the courtroom was palpable as the jury foreman stood to announce the verdict. "The beautifully shot, meditative film takes on apalpablesense of urgency after Maria makes a fateful move, leaving both the young woman and her family in a quandary that forces them to deal with the outside world, including a harrowing trip to a hospital where no one understands their language." — David Lewis, The San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Aug. 2016 Did you know? The word palpable has been used in English since the 14th century. It derives from the Latin word palpare, meaning "to stroke" or "to caress"—the same root that gives us the word palpitation. The Latin verb is also a linguistic ancestor of the verb feel. Palpable can be used to describe things that can be felt through the skin, such as a person's pulse, but even more frequently it is used in reference to things that cannot be touched but are still so easy to perceive that it is as though they could be touched—such as "a palpable tension in the air."

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