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.



April 11th, 2016

Episode 501 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 11, 2016 is: twee \TWEE\ adjective : (chiefly British) affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint Examples: The cutesy knickknacks sold in that shop are a bit twee for my taste. "Some of the footage from decades gone by showcases amusinglytweeTV staging and set design…." — Jack Seale, The Guardian, 11 Mar. 2016 . Did you know? Most adults wouldn't be caught dead saying, "Oh, look at the twee little birdie!" but they probably wouldn't be averse to saying: "He went fishing with his dad," "She works as a nanny," or "Hey, buddy, how's it going?" Anyone who uses dad, nanny, or buddy owes a debt to "baby talk," a term used for both the childish speech adults adopt when addressing youngsters and for the speech of small children who are just learning to talk. Twee also originated in baby talk as an alteration of sweet. In the early 1900s, it was a term of affection, but nowadays British speakers and writers—and, increasingly, Americans as well—use twee for things that have passed beyond agreeable and into the realm of cloying.