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.



September 9th, 2016

Episode 642 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 9, 2016 is: sylvan \SILL-vun\ adjective 1 a : living or located in the woods or forest b : of, relating to, or characteristic of the woods or forest 2 a : made from wood : wooden b : abounding in woods, groves, or trees : wooded Examples: "The climb up the hill … was a short, hot pilgrimage to a sylvan glade, where the reading tents and outlets for drinks, falafels, crêpes and so on were situated." — Hugo Williams, The Times Literary Supplement, 13 Aug. 2004 "With Serenbe’s strong focus on sustainability and organic farming, Claudia and Rod Hoxsey wanted their new cottage there to be a modern version of a classic farmhouse. … The open floor plan embraces its sylvan setting, seen through 16-foot-tall metal windows." — Lisa Mowry, Atlanta Magazine, August 2016 Did you know? In Latin, sylva means "wood" or "forest," and the related Sylvanus is the name of the Roman god of the woods and fields—a god sometimes identified with the Greek god Pan. These words gave rise to English sylvan in the 16th century. The English word was first used as a noun meaning "a mythological deity of the woods," eventually taking on the broader meaning "one who frequents the woods." The adjective sylvan followed soon after the noun and is now the more common word. Some other offspring of sylva (which can also be spelled silva) include silviculture ("a branch of forestry dealing with the development and care of forests"), sylvatic (a synonym of sylvan that can also mean "occurring in or affecting wild animals"), and the first name Sylvia.

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