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.



April 27th, 2015

Episode 179 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 27, 2015 is: savvy \SAV-ee\ verb : to understand Examples: "The agency's Denver office sent Siringo, who savvied some Spanish, to Santa Fe." Ollie Reed Jr., Albuquerque (New Mexico) Tribune, June 30, 2001 "And kudos to Stan for the sensitivity. Savvying the tension between Ted and Peggy, Stan offers a sincere, 'Buck up chief.'" Marisa Nadolny, The Day, March 25, 2015 Did you know? You may be familiar with the noun savvy, meaning "practical know-how" (as in "her political savvy"), and the adjective use (as in "a savvy investor"). And if you've seen any of the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you also know that the verb is used as an informal, one-word question meaning "Do you understand?" (as in "I'm Captain Jack Sparrow. Savvy?"). But Jack Sparrow (i.e., Johnny Depp) didn't invent the term. Both the noun and the verb came into use around 1785. Savvy is based on the Portuguese term sabe, meaning "he knows," which itself is from Latin sapere, meaning "to be wise." Creole speakers interpreted the Portuguese term as sabi and began using it as one would "know." Eventually, the Creole sabi evolved into today's word.

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