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.
December 11th, 2015
Episode 398 of 758 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 11, 2015 is: velleity \vuh-LEE-uh-tee\ noun 1 : the lowest degree of volition 2 : a slight wish or tendency : inclination Examples: Samuel sometimes mentions that he would like to go back to school, but his interest strikes me as more of a velleity than a firm statement of purpose. "It should be enough of an advantage for online retailers that you can order items from them the instant your internet-browsing fingers conceive a velleity to own something; exploiting and maintaining anachronistic tax loopholes is uncalled for." The Economist (online), 9 Sept. 2011 Did you know? Allow us, if you will, to volunteer our knowledge about velleity. It is a derivative of the New Latin noun velleitas, from the Latin verb velle, meaning "to wish or will." You might also wish to know that velle is the word that gave us voluntary (by way of Anglo-French voluntarie and Latin voluntarius) and volunteer (by way of French voluntaire). While both of those words might imply a wish to do something (specifically, to offer one's help) and the will to act upon it, the less common velleity typically refers to a wish or inclination that is so insignificant that a person feels little or no compulsion to act.