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.



October 13th, 2014

Episode 4 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 13, 2014 is: posthaste \POHST-HAYST\ adverb : with all possible speed Examples: "You must leave posthaste," Virginia theatrically admonished her guests, "or you'll miss your ferry!" "Yes, West Palm Beach commissioners should green-light the chiefs efforts to address the issue posthaste." Palm Beach Post, September 3, 2014 Did you know? In the 16th century, the phrase "haste, post, haste" was used to inform "posts," as couriers were then called, that a letter was urgent and must be hastily delivered. Posts would then speedily gallop along a route, with a series of places at which to get a fresh horse or to relay the letter to a fresh messenger. Shakespeare was one of the first to use a version of the phrase adverbially in Richard II. "Old John of Gaunt ... hath sent post haste / To entreat your Majesty to visit him," the Bard versified. He also used the phrase as an adjective (a use that is now obsolete) in Othello: "The Duke ... requires your haste-post-haste appearance," Lieutenant Cassio reports to the play's namesake. Today, the word still possesses a literary flair attributable to the Bard.

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