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.
November 25th, 2014
Episode 26 of 903 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 25, 2014 is: pelagic \puh-LAJ-ik\ adjective : of, relating to, or living or occurring in the open sea : oceanic Examples: She is studying to become a marine biologist specializing in pelagic plant life. "During this time we also have the seasonal migration of pelagic fish from the northern Gulf waters to the Key West area." Sam O'Briant, The News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida), September 21, 2014 Did you know? Pelagic comes to us from Greek, via Latin. The Greek word pelagikos became pelagicus in Latin and then pelagic in English. (Pelagikos is derived from pelagos, the Greek word for the seait is also a source of archipelagoplus the adjectival suffix -ikos.) Pelagic first showed up in dictionaries in 1656; a definition from that time says that Pelagick (as it was then spelled) meant "of the Sea, or that liveth in the Sea." Over 350 years later, writers are still using pelagic with the same meaning, albeit less frequently than its more familiar synonym oceanic.