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.
June 2nd, 2015
Episode 214 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 02, 2015 is: stalwart \STAWL-wert\ adjective : marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind, or spirit Examples: Judith has long been a stalwart supporter of the community theater, always volunteering at fundraisers and helping out backstage during productions. "A gaggle of little children chase after the family dog and roll around on the floor. Meanwhile, a stalwart grandmother, now raising a third generation of kids, the worn lines of the years etched in her striking yet stoic face, stands idly to the side." Joshua Silavent, Gainesville (Georgia) Times, April 26, 2015 Did you know? Sometime in the 15th century, English speakers began to use stalwart in place of the older form stalworth. Although stalworth is now archaic, it laid the groundwork for today's meaning of stalwart. In the 12th century, stalworth began to be used to describe strongly built people or animals (a meaning stalwart took on about two centuries later). It also came to be used as an adjective for people who showed bravery or courage (likewise a meaning passed on to stalwart). So, in a way, stalwart has been serviceable in keeping the spirit of stalworth alive. This character of stalwart is true to its roots. Stalworth came from the Old English word stælwierthe (meaning "serviceable"), which, in turn, is thought to come from terms meaning "foundation" and "worth."