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.



February 7th, 2016

Episode 442 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 7, 2016 is: peccadillo \pek-uh-DIL-oh\ noun : a slight offense Examples: Mark's thank-you note to his hostess was sincere and touching; his only peccadillo was addressing her by her first name instead of "Mrs. Henderson." "[Tanyanne] Ball seemed to have mastered the form of affable confrontation: as soon as she saw someone perpetrating a civic peccadillo, she would stride up and calmly, grinningly ask, 'Are you aware that you have just committed a violation?'" — Tobi Haslett, NewYorker.com, 10 Nov. 2015 Did you know? "The world loves a spice of wickedness." That observation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow may explain why people are so willing to forgive peccadilloes as youthful foolishness or lapses of judgment. The willingness to overlook petty faults and minor offenses existed long before English speakers borrowed a modified version of the Spanish pecadillo at the end of the 16th century. Spanish speakers distinguished the pecadillo, or "little sin," from the more serious pecado, their term for a sin of magnitude. And these Spanish terms can be traced back still further, to the Latin verb peccare, meaning "to sin."

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