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.



October 13th, 2016

Episode 676 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 13, 2016 is: univocal \yoo-NIV-uh-kul\ adjective 1 : having one meaning only 2 : unambiguous Examples: The president declared that it was important to send a univocal message of support to the beleaguered country. "Often cited as America's greatest indigenous art form, jazz wriggles away from any univocal definition, resisting the confines of a single track like water flowing on broken ground." — Charles Donelan, The Santa Barbara (California) Independent, 23 Sept. 2010 Did you know? Earliest known print evidence of univocal, in the sense of "having one meaning only," dates the word to the mid-1500s, somewhat earlier than its more familiar antonym equivocal (meaning "often misleadingly subject to two or more interpretations"). Both words trace back to the Latin noun vox, which means "voice." The prefix uni- ("one") was combined with vox to create the Late Latin word univocus, from which English speakers borrowed univocal. Univocal was indeed once used in the sense of "speaking in one voice" (or "unanimous") as its etymology would imply, but that use is now obsolete.

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