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.
March 27th, 2015
Episode 148 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 27, 2015 is: quiescent \kwy-ESS-unt\ adjective 1 : marked by inactivity or repose : tranquilly at rest 2 : causing no trouble or symptoms Examples: The alligator is deceptively quiescent on the sunny shore, watching its approaching prey, waiting for the moment to strike. "Measles made a modest comeback around 1990, and then fell quiescentuntil the recent outbreak of measles cases at Disneyland in California." Richard A. Epstein, Defining Ideas, February 2, 2015 Did you know? Quiescent won't cause you any pain, and neither will its synonyms latent, dormant, and potentialat least not immediately. All four words mean "not now showing signs of activity or existence." Latent usually applies to something that has not yet come forth but may emerge and develop, as in "a latent desire for success." Dormant implies a state of inactivity similar to sleep, as in "their passions lay dormant." Potential applies to what may or may not come to be. "A potential disaster" is a typical example. Quiescent, which traces to Latin quiescere (meaning "to become quiet" or "to rest"), often suggests a temporary cessation of activity, as in "a quiescent disease" or "a summer resort quiescent in wintertime."