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.
January 21st, 2015
Episode 83 of 900 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 21, 2015 is: pandiculation \pan-dik-yuh-LAY-shun\ noun : a stretching and stiffening especially of the trunk and extremities (as when fatigued and drowsy or after waking from sleep) Examples: "He was coming on to yawn. His breath sucked in the draught from the window. His shoulders hunched, his legs stretched to their toes, he made claws of his fingers in his handsa fierce pandiculation of his limbs." Jamie O'Neill, At Swim, Two Boys, 2001 "Carefully orchestrated pandiculations follow a routine: Lips part, the tongue hunkers down, and muscles in the face, mouth and diaphragm engage as the head tilts back." Laura Sanders, Science News, May 7, 2011 Did you know? Cat and dog owners who witness daily their pets' methodical body stretching upon awakening might wonder if there is a word to describe their routineand there is: pandiculation. Pandiculation (which applies to humans too) is the medical term for the stretching and stiffening of the trunk and extremities, often accompanied by yawning, to arouse the body when fatigued or drowsy. The word comes from Latin pandiculatus, the past participle of pandiculari ("to stretch oneself"), and is ultimately derived from pandere, meaning "to spread." Pandere is also the source of expand.