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.
June 9th, 2016
Episode 550 of 681 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 9, 2016 is: passel \PASS-ul\ noun : a large number or amount Examples: When problems at the printing plant caused a delay in delivery of the newspaper, Rebecca was tasked with handling the passel of complaints from angry subscribers. "It's no easy feat being the standout here—the marquee names are all delightfully funny, not to mention the passel of character actors playing the blacklisted writers—but Ehrenreich's going to have moviegoers learning how to spell his name." — Alonso Duralde, TheWrap.com, 3 Feb. 2016 Did you know? The loss of the sound of "r" after a vowel and before another consonant in the middle of a word is common in spoken English. This linguistic idiosyncrasy has given our language a few new words, such as cuss from curse, bust from burst, and our featured word passel from parcel. The spelling passel originated in the 15th century, but the word's use as a collective noun for an indefinite number is a 19th-century Americanism. It was common primarily in local-color writing before getting a boost in the 1940s, when it began appearing in popular weekly magazines such as Time, Newsweek, and Saturday Review.