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.
July 24th, 2016
Episode 595 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 24, 2016 is: simulacrum \sim-yuh-LAK-rum\ noun 1 : image, representation 2 : an insubstantial form or semblance of something : trace Examples: "Most theater shows aim to conjure asimulacrumof reality onstage." — Rohan Preston, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), 21 Apr. 2015 "There, hanging above you, is asimulacrumof a tardigrade, otherwise known as a water bear or moss piglet, at about 5,000 times larger than life-size." — James Gorman, The New York Times, 3 Apr. 2015 Did you know? It's not a figment of your imagination; there is a similarity between simulacrum and simulate. Both of those English words derive from simulare, a Latin verb meaning "to copy, represent, or feign." In its earliest English uses, simulacrum named something that provided an image or representation (as, for instance, a portrait, marble statue, or wax figure representing a person). Perhaps because a simulacrum, no matter how skillfully done, is not the real thing, the word gained an extended sense emphasizing the superficiality or insubstantiality of a thing.