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.



August 9th, 2016

Episode 611 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 9, 2016 is: rectify \REK-tuh-fye\ verb 1 : to set right : remedy 2 : to purify (as alcohol) especially by repeated or fractional distillation 3 : to correct by removing errors Examples: After Jennifer pointed out to the store manager that she was not charged the sale price for her purchase, he promised to rectify the situation and refund her the difference. "'At the time I couldn't say that there was a place in all of Asia that made real, slow-cooked barbecue,' he said. So Walker rectified that; he opened Bubba’s in 2006, a Texas-style barbecue joint." — Joshua Hunt, The Texas Monthly, 4 July 2016 Did you know? Which of the following words does not share its ancestry with rectify—direct, regimen, obstruct, correct, or resurrection? Like rectify, four of these words ultimately come from Latin regere, which can mean "to lead straight," "to direct," or "to rule." Correct and direct come from regere via Latin corrigere and dirigere, respectively. Resurrection comes from Latin resurgere, whose stem surgere, meaning "to rise," is a combination of sub- and regere. Regimen is from Latin regimen ("position of authority," "direction," "set of rules"), itself from regere. And rectify is from regere by way of Latin rectus ("right"). Obstruct is the only one of the set that has no relation to rectify. It traces back to Latin struere, meaning "to build" or "to heap up."