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.
January 22nd, 2016
Episode 431 of 790 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 22, 2016 is: rapscallion \rap-SKAL-yun\ noun : rascal, ne’er-do-well Examples: With his shaggy, perpetually unkempt hair and his charmingly crooked smile, the actor seems to have been born to play scamps and rapscallions. "Growing up, my best friends were my siblings. While we fought like only brother and sisters could fight, I was quick to defend their honor, or protect them from the rapscallions of our childhood world." — Stephanie Hill, The Herald-Dispatch (Huntington, West Virginia), 24 Sept. 2015 Did you know? The word rascal has been part of English since the 15th century, but on its own it apparently didn't quite capture the disagreeable nature of the wily knaves of yore. By the 17th century, English speakers had modified rascal to create rascallion. But it seems that even that term didn't sound quite mischievous enough. By the century's end, rascallion had been further altered to create rapscallion. Today, rapscallion is still commonly used as a synonym for blackguard, scoundrel, and miscreant. Rascallion is still around as well, but it's very rare.