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.
January 2nd, 2015
Episode 64 of 713 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 02, 2015 is: solecism \SAH-luh-sih-zum\ noun 1 : an ungrammatical combination of words in a sentence; also : a minor blunder in speech 2 : something deviating from the proper, normal, or accepted order 3 : a breach of etiquette or decorum Examples: As a copyeditor, Jane has the eyes of a hawk; rarely, if ever, does she let a writer's solecism slip past her. "What [Leonard Lyons] presented in his columns was the essence of the person being reported on, and so even when one comes upon the occasional solecism or inaccuracy, it matters less because the portraits as a whole ring true." Martin Rubin, The Washington Times, September 5, 2011 Did you know? The city of Soloi had a reputation for bad grammar. Located in Cilicia, an ancient coastal nation in Asia Minor, it was populated by Athenian colonists called soloikos (literally "inhabitant of Soloi"). According to historians, the colonists of Soloi allowed their native Athenian Greek to be corrupted and they fell to using words incorrectly. As a result, soloikos gained a new meaning: "speaking incorrectly." The Greeks used that sense as the basis of soloikismos, meaning "an ungrammatical combination of words." That root in turn gave rise to the Latin soloecismus, the direct ancestor of the English word solecism. Nowadays, solecism can refer to social blunders as well as sloppy syntax.