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.



July 1st, 2016

Episode 572 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 1, 2016 is: qua \KWAH\ preposition : in the capacity or character of : as Examples: "Coben's novels have made him rich, but that's not what's important to him. It's sales qua sales—his statistical record—that motivates Coben, rather than the money his sales bring in." — Eric Konigsberg, The Atlantic, July/August 2007 "Sure, there have been other big pop music phenomena over the years … but the Beatles quaphenomenon was due to a confluence of forces that defined a historical moment." — Candy Leonard, The Huffington Post, 18 Dec. 2014 Did you know? Which way? Who? No, we're not paraphrasing lines from the old Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First?" We're referring to the etymology of qua, a term that comes to us from Latin. It can be translated as "which way" or "as," and it is a derivative of the Latin qui, meaning "who." Qua has been serving English in the capacity of a preposition since the 17th century. It's a learned but handy little word that led one 20th-century usage writer to comment: "Qua is sometimes thought affected or pretentious, but it does convey meaning economically."