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 19th, 2015
Episode 140 of 796 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 19, 2015 is: sprachgefühl \SHPRAHKH-guh-fuel\ noun 1 : the character of a language 2 : an intuitive sense of what is linguistically appropriate Examples: One review of the book praised the author's sprachgefühl and her graceful, literary style. "Robert Dankoff patiently taught me Ottoman Turkish, attempting to instill in me Sprachgefühl, and carefully corrected every inaccurate transliteration and translation that I insisted he read." Marc David Baer, Honored by the Glory of Islam, 2008 Did you know? Sprachgefühl was borrowed into English from German at the end of the 19th century and combines two German nouns, Sprache, meaning "language, speech," and Gefühl, meaning "feeling." (Nouns are capitalized in German, and you'll occasionally see sprachgefühl capitalized in English too, as in our second example.) We're quite certain that the quality of sprachgefühl is common among our readers, but the word itself is rare, making only occasional appearances in our language.