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 1st, 2016
Episode 491 of 689 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 1, 2016 is: vagary \VAY-guh-ree\ noun : an erratic, unpredictable, or extravagant manifestation, action, or notion Examples: The vagaries of fashion make it difficult to predict what styles will be popular a year or two from now. "Being an attentive parent of a small family invariably means that you know, in minute detail, every quirk and vagary of your child's life." — Michael Grose, The Huffington Post, Australia, 15 Feb. 2016 Did you know? In the 16th century, if you "made a vagary" you took a wandering journey, or you figuratively wandered from a correct path by committing some minor offense. If you spoke or wrote vagaries, you wandered from a main subject. These senses hadn't strayed far from their origin, as vagary is probably based on Latin vagari, meaning "to wander." Indeed, in the 16th and 17th centuries there was even an English verb vagary that meant "to wander." Nowadays, the noun vagary is mostly used in its plural form, and vagaries have more to do with unpredictability than with wandering.