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.



March 2nd, 2016

Episode 466 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 2, 2016 is: somnolent \SAHM-nuh-lunt\ adjective 1 : of a kind likely to induce sleep 2 a : inclined to or heavy with sleep : drowsy b : sleepy Examples: "George, a somnolent ginger [cat] curled in an orange felt bed, was sleeping through the overtures of Molly Flanagan…." — Penelope Green, The New York Times, 6 Nov. 2015 "Traditionally, Bordeaux had turned its back on its tourists. Sooty and somnolent, it was an insular place where the streets were clogged with traffic and shutters snapped closed on weekends." — Suzanne Mustacich, Wine Spectator, 31 Mar. 2012 Did you know? Somnolent first appeared in the late 15th century in the redundant phrase "somnolent sleep." It came into English by way of Anglo-French from the Latin word somnolentus, which itself comes from somnus, meaning "sleep." Another offspring of somnus is somnambulism, a synonym of sleepwalking. Insomnia is also a member of this sleepy word family, though it might be considered the black sheep, since it means, of course, "the inability to sleep."