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 26th, 2015
Episode 361 of 830 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 26, 2015 is: victual \VIT-ul\ noun 1 : food usable by people 2 : (plural) supplies of food Examples: The small grocery on the corner sells meat, bread, fruit, and other victuals at prices that rival those of the big supermarkets. "Always popular was the man who comes every year to sell gourmet dog food. His booth attracts hundreds who want their canines to have the very best and most attractive victuals, and this year was no exception." Chris Barber, The Daily Local News (West Chester, Pennsylvania), 12 Sept. 2015 Did you know? If you're hungry for the story behind victual, get ready to dig into a rich and fulfilling history. The word derives via Middle English and Anglo-French from the Latin noun victus, meaning "nourishment" or "way of living." Victus derives from the verb vivere, which means "to live" and which is the source of a whole smorgasbord of other English words like vital, vivid, and survive. It's also the root of viand, another English word referring to food. There's also vittles, a word that sounds like it might be an alteration of the plural victuals but which actually entered English a century before victual.