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 17th, 2015
Episode 169 of 796 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 17, 2015 is: rebarbative \rih-BAR-buh-tiv\ adjective : repellent, irritating Examples: The cantankerous professor found the music, clothing, and slang favored by her students to be rebarbative. "For all the complaints about his abrasiveness, the shadow chancellor is simply doing his job. He once gave me a heartfelt radio interview in which he suggested, like the character in the Roger Rabbit movie, that he was not so much bad but 'just drawn that way,' and that maturity had taken the edge off his rebarbative manner." Anne McElvoy, The Guardian, February 22, 2015 Did you know? You may be surprised to learn that today's word traces back to the Latin word for beardbarbamaking it a very distant relative of the English word beard. But there is some sense to the connection. After all, beards may not be repellent, but they can be prickly and scratchy. Another descendant of Latin barba is the English word barb, which can refer to a sharp projection (as found on barbed wire) or a biting critical remark, both of which can discourage others from getting too close. An interesting side note: barber too traces back to barbabut by way of an Anglo-French word for beard.