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.



May 4th, 2016

Episode 514 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 4, 2016 is: wisenheimer \WYE-zun-hye-mer\ noun : smart aleck Examples: Leslie delivered a flawless presentation even in spite of interruptions from the wisenheimers in the back of the classroom. "… we both come from incredibly saucy families who love to sling it every which way, so it just seemed natural for us to cross our fingers that any children we had would be littlewisenheimers." — Lisa Sugarman, The Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, Oklahoma), 20 Dec. 2015 Did you know? We wouldn't joke around about the origin of this witty word. In the early 20th century, someone had the smart idea to combine the adjective wise (one sense of which means "insolent, smart-alecky, or fresh") with -enheimer, playing on the pattern of family names such as Oppenheimer and Guggenheimer. Of course, wisenheimer isn't the only "wise-" word for someone who jokes around. There's also wiseacre, wisecracker, and wise guy. All of these jokesters are fond of making wisecracks.