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 23rd, 2016
Episode 594 of 823 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 23, 2016 is: vatic \VAT-ik\ adjective : prophetic, oracular Examples: "Compared with [Stan] Lee's wisecracking dialogue and narrative prose, [Jack] Kirby's writing was stilted and often awkward, though at times it rose to a level of vatic poetic eloquence." — Jeet Heer, The New Republic, 7 Aug. 2015 "[Walt Whitman] dreamed of a new democratic civilization, which he pictured ultimately as a worldwide revolutionary democracy of labor—the vision that you can see in his vatic and ecstatic processional poem 'Song of the Broad-Axe.'" — Paul Berman, Tablet (tabletmag.com), 3 May 2016 Did you know? Some people say only thin lines separate poetry, prophecy, and madness. We don't know if that's generally true, but it is in the case of vatic. The adjective derives directly from the Latin word vates, meaning "seer" or "prophet." But that Latin root is, in turn, distantly related to the Old English wōth, meaning "poetry," the Old High German wuot, meaning "madness," and the Old Irish fáith, meaning both "seer" and "poet."