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.



April 22nd, 2015

Episode 174 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 22, 2015 is: quidnunc \KWID-nunk\ noun : a person who seeks to know all the latest news or gossip : busybody Examples: We were naturally curious when the moving van appeared in the Michaelsons' driveway, but the neighborhood quidnunc, Mrs. Dyer, had already heard that Mr. Michaelson was being transferred to a new job out of town. "To spend time with a book in order to read scandalous revelations about real-life people is not an elevated or honourable thing to do, but it appeals to the gossip-sharing quidnunc in all of us." John Walsh, The Independent (London), July 22, 2003 Did you know? "What's new?" That's a question every busybody wants answered. Latin-speaking Nosey Parkers might have used some version of the expression quid nunc, literally "what now," to ask the same question. Appropriately, the earliest documented English use of quidnunc to refer to a gossiper appeared in 1709 in Sir Richard Steele's famous periodical, The Tatler. Steele is far from the only writer to ply quidnunc in his prose, however. You can also find the word among the pages of works by such writers as Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne. But don't think the term is old newsit sees some use in current publications, too.

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