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.



February 13th, 2016

Episode 448 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 13, 2016 is: tribulation \trib-yuh-LAY-shun\ noun : distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution; also : a trying experience Examples: "Now Lemsford's great care, anxiety, and endless source of tribulation was the preservation of his manuscripts." — Herman Melville, White Jacket; or, the World in a Man-of-War, 1850 "In sharing the many tribulations of real-life patients and physicians, Nussbaum unveils a thoughtful, well-rounded, yet thorny vision of the current state of medicine." — Kirkus Reviews, 15 Jan. 2016 Did you know? The writer and Christian scholar Thomas More, in his 1534 work A dialoge of comforte against tribulation, defined the title word as "euery such thing as troubleth and greueth [grieveth] a man either in bodye or mynde." These days, however, the word tribulation is typically used as a plural noun, paired with its alliterative partner trial, and relates less to oppression and more to any kind of uphill struggle. Tribulation derives via Middle English and Old French from the Latin verb tribulare ("to oppress or afflict"), which is related to tribulum, a noun meaning "threshing board."