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.



July 21st, 2015

Episode 263 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 21, 2015 is: truculent \TRUCK-yuh-lunt\ adjective 1 : feeling or displaying ferocity : cruel, savage 2 : deadly, destructive 3 : scathingly harsh : vitriolic 4 : aggressively self-assertive : belligerent Examples: Warren's truculent demeanor made him unpleasant to work with, particularly as deadlines approached. "When I interviewed her at the end of last year, she struck me as an unusually truculent person, one who certainly couldn't be pushed about, by me or anyone." Rachel Cooke, The Observer (London), May 31, 2015 Did you know? Truculent derives from truculentus, a form of the Latin adjective trux, meaning "savage." It has been used in English since the 16th century to describe people or things that are cruel and ferocious, such as tyrannical leaders, and has also come to mean "deadly or destructive" (as in "a truculent disease"). In current use, however, it has lost much of its etymological fierceness. It now frequently serves to describe speech or writing that is notably harsh (as in "truculent criticism") or a person who is notably self-assertive and surly (such as "a truculent schoolboy"). Some usage commentators have criticized these extended uses because they do not match the savagery of the word's original sense, but they are well-established and perfectly standard.

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