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.



December 29th, 2015

Episode 408 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 29, 2015 is: petulant \PET-chuh-lunt\ adjective 1 : insolent or rude in speech or behavior 2 : characterized by temporary or capricious ill humor : peevish Examples: Uncle Harold is a petulant and fussy man who is always blaming everyone else for his problems. "… this bunch doesn't care about being reasonable or meeting opposing views halfway. Likepetulanttoddlers, they want it all right now or they'll throw a tantrum." — Kevin Foley, The Marietta (Georgia) Daily Journal, 16 Oct. 2015 Did you know? Petulant is one of many English words that are related to the Latin verb petere, which means "to go to," "to attack," "to seek," or "to request." Petere is a relative of the Latin adjective petulans ("impudent"), from which petulant was derived. Some other words with connections to petere are compete and appetite. Competere, the Late Latin precursor to compete, is a combination of the prefix com- and the verb petere. The joining of ad- and petere led to appetere ("to strive after"), and eventually to Latin appetitus, the source of our appetite. Additional descendants of petere are petition, perpetual, and impetus.