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 31st, 2015
Episode 273 of 718 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 31, 2015 is: vilify \VIL-uh-fye\ verb 1 : to lower in estimation or importance 2 : to utter slanderous and abusive statements against : defame Examples: Janet's angry letter chastised members of the media for vilifying her brother, the disgraced ex-councilman. "But her daughter denies the allegations against her mother. Instead, she believes the person who made the initial complaints was merely looking to vilify her mother after her own termination." Evan Peter Smith, Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio), June 30, 2015 Did you know? Vilify came to English by way of the Middle English vilifien and the Late Latin vilificare from the Latin adjective vilis, meaning "cheap" or "vile." It first appeared in English in the 15th century. Also debuting during that time was another verb that derives from vilis and has a similar meaning: vilipend. When they were first used in English, both vilify and vilipend meant to regard someone or something as being of little worth or importance. Vilipend now carries an additional meaning of "to express a low opinion of somebody," while vilify means, more specifically, to express such an opinion publicly in a way that intends to embarrass a person or ruin his or her reputation.