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 15th, 2016

Episode 450 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 15, 2016 is: pulchritude \PUHL-kruh-tood\ noun : physical comeliness Examples: The snowboarder's talent won her many medals, and her pulchritude gained her much attention from sponsors looking for a spokeswoman. "Though the actress playing the queen has the requisite pulchritude, she lacks the gravitas to convince us that she's a 41-year-old, with a lifetime's experience and heartache." — Lee Randall, The Edinburgh Evening News, 11 Aug. 2015 Did you know? If English poet John Keats was right when he wrote that "a thing of beauty is a joy forever," then pulchritude should bring bliss for many years to come. That word has already served English handsomely for centuries; it has been used since the 1400s. It's a descendant of the Latin adjective pulcher, which means "beautiful." Pulcher hasn't exactly been a wellspring of English terms, but it did give us both pulchritude and pulchritudinous, an adjective meaning "attractive" or "beautiful." The verb pulchrify (a synonym of beautify), the noun pulchritudeness (same meaning as pulchritude), and the adjective pulchrous (meaning "fair or beautiful") are other pulcher offspring, but those terms have proved that, in at least some linguistic cases, beauty is fleeting.

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