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.



February 21st, 2016

Episode 456 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 21, 2016 is: vignette \vin-YET\ noun 1 : a running ornament or design (as of vine leaves, tendrils, and grapes) put on or just before a title page or at the beginning or end of a chapter 2 a : a picture (such as an engraving or photograph) that shades off gradually into the surrounding paper b : the pictorial part of a postage stamp 3 a : a short descriptive literary sketch b : a brief incident or scene (as in a play or movie) Examples: The film is a series of vignettes about people and their dogs. "For years, Rory had been posting vignettes of his travels and care-free activities of himself, friends and family online to social media venues." — Stuart Cassidy, The Perry County News (Tell City, Indiana), 14 Jan. 2016 Did you know? Vignette comes from Middle French vignete, the diminutive form of the noun vigne, meaning "vine." In English, the word was first used in the mid-18th century for a design or illustration that ran along the blank border of a page, or one that marked the beginning or end of a chapter. Such designs got their name because they often looked like little vines. It wasn't until the late 19th century that usage of vignette had shifted to cover a brief literary sketch or narrative, as we commonly see it used today.

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