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.
December 19th, 2014
Episode 50 of 903 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 19, 2014 is: syncretic \sin-KRET-ik\ adjective : characterized or brought about by a combination of different forms of belief or practice Examples: Dr. Portman practices a syncretic form of medicine, borrowing from both Eastern and Western medical traditions. "Her CV cites disparate accomplishments as a scientist, writer, and artistand teacher. Moreover, her career arc represents a syncretic impulse that characterizes her general outlook on life." Glen Martin, Forbes, November 4, 2014 Did you know? Syncretic has its roots in an ancient alliance. It's a descendant of the Greek word synkrētismos, meaning "federation of Cretan cities"syn- means "together, with," and Krēt- means "Cretan." The adjective first appeared in English in the mid-19th century, and the related noun syncretism debuted over 200 years earlier. Syncretic retains the idea of coalition and appears in such contexts as "syncretic religions," "syncretic societies," and even "syncretic music," all describing things influenced by two or more styles or traditions. The word also has a specific application in linguistics, where it refers to a fusion of inflectional forms.