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.
October 16th, 2015
Episode 351 of 903 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 16, 2015 is: tremulous \tremul02\ adjective 1 : characterized by or affected with trembling or tremors 2 : affected with timidity : timorous 3 : such as is or might be caused by nervousness or shakiness 4 : exceedingly sensitive : easily shaken or disordered Examples: The piece begins with the tremulous tones of a violin coming from what sounds like a great distance. "After half a lifetime spent curating literary events, there is one audience question to which I remain violently allergic. Up goes a diffident hand in the back row and a tremulous voice pipes up 'I just wonder if you could tell us where you get your ideas from?'" Bert Wright, The Irish Times, 21 Sept. 2015 Did you know? Do you suspect that tremulous must be closely related to tremble? If so, there's no need to be tremulous in voicing your suspicion: both of those words derive from the Latin verb tremere, which means "to tremble." Some other English offspring of tremere are tremor, tremendous, temblor (another word for an earthquake), and tremolo (a term that describes a vibrating and quavering musical effect that was particularly popular for electric guitars and organs in the 1970s).