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.
August 15th, 2016
Episode 617 of 900 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 15, 2016 is: soul mate \SOHL-MAYT\ noun 1 : a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament 2 : a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs Examples: They have been best friends and soul mates for nearly two decades. "Decades of incredible songs performed by a multitalented ensemble sweep the audience through the musical journey of [Johnny Cash's] life, including gospel, folk, country and rock, along with incredible duets with his soul mate, June Carter." — The Chicago Daily Herald, 13 June 2016 Did you know? The earliest known use of soul mate is found in an 1822 letter from English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge to "a Young Lady" in which he writes, "To be happy in Marriage Life, nay … in order not to be miserable, you must have a Soul-mate as well as a House or a Yoke-mate…." The word yokemate is used to refer to someone who is figuratively yoked to another, such as a close associate or companion, or, as Coleridge uses the word, a spouse. Coleridge's advice to the recipient of his letter, then, is that she should not simply settle for a husband, but rather for a person whose character and sensibilities are of a nature suitable to her own. Soul mate is now often used by English speakers to describe those with whom our bonds of affection are marked by a strong sense of like-mindedness and intertwined affinities.