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.
December 31st, 2015
Episode 410 of 830 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 31, 2015 is: reticulate \rih-TIK-yuh-lut\ adjective 1 : resembling a net or network 2 : being or involving evolutionary change dependent on genetic recombination involving diverse interbreeding populations Examples: The lizard had a reticulate pattern of markings on its back. "In the first decade of this century, though, I sensed a change in the structure of the art world, from a hierarchical pattern to a reticulate one, from a tree to a web." — William Warmus, The Utne Reader, Fall 2015 Did you know? Though reticulate is used in many contexts, it finds particular use in the field of biology. Reticulate comes from the Latin word reticulum, meaning "small net." It first appeared in English in the mid-1600s and was used in connection with the study of plants even back then. Scientists use reticulate to describe a net-like formation of veins, fibers, or lines that crosses something. For example, a leaf with a pattern of veins that resembles a net would be called a "reticulate leaf." In the early 20th century, scientists also began using the word to describe evolutionary lineages that become interwoven through hybridization.