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.
January 20th, 2016
Episode 429 of 758 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 20, 2016 is: thew \THOO\ noun 1 a : muscular power or development b : strength, vitality 2 : muscle, sinew — usually used in plural Examples: "In Rocco's melodramatically murky illustrations, men and women alike display ripplingthewsand plenty of skin as they battle ravening monsters." — Kirkus Reviews, 22 July 2015 "As soon as his right arm received thew and sinew he learned to draw the long bow and speed a true arrow." — J. Walker McSpadden, Robin Hood and His Merry Outlaws, 1923 Did you know? Thew has had a long, difficult past during which it discovered its strengths and weaknesses. In Middle English it carried a number of meanings, referring to a custom, habit, personal quality, or virtue. The word began to tire in the 16th century but was soon revitalized with a new meaning: it began to be used specifically for the quality of physical strength and later for the muscles demonstrating that quality. In time, the word buddied up with sinew in both literal and figurative turns of phrase, as in "the thews and sinews of my body ached" and "their love affair was the thew and sinew of the story."