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 29th, 2015
Episode 303 of 718 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 29, 2015 is: testimonial \tess-tuh-MOH-nee-ul\ noun 1 : evidence, testimony 2 a : a statement testifying to benefits received b : a character reference : letter of recommendation 3 : an expression of appreciation : tribute Examples: The contractor's website included a photo gallery of his past work and testimonials from satisfied clients. "Macari and Richichi brought to light the testimonies of Stamford's immigrants and war veterans and the city's history in the documentary. More than 40 on-camera testimonials were made by citizens and celebrities." Frank MacEachern, The Stamford (Connecticut) Daily Voice, 29 July 2015 Did you know? In 1639, Scottish poet William Drummond responded to the political scene of his day by writing a facetious set of new laws, among them that "no man wear a . . . periwig, unless he have a testimonial from a town-clerk, that he is either bald, sickly, or asham'd of white hairs." Testimonials take different forms, but always, like in Drummond's recommended law, they provide affirmation or evidence. (Our word traces to Latin testimonium, meaning "evidence, witness.") In the 19th century, a gift presented to someone as a public expression of appreciation for service rendered became the newest version of a testimonial. Then, it was likely to be a statue or portrait. In the 20th century, we came up with testimonial dinners to show our appreciation or esteem. Testimonials (usually solicited) that endorse products or services are also a 20th-century phenomenon.