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 23rd, 2014
Episode 54 of 718 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 23, 2014 is: zaibatsu \zye-BAHT-soo\ noun : a powerful financial and industrial conglomerate of Japan Examples: As owners of a zaibatsu with interests in the insurance and banking industries, the family's decisions had an undeniable impact on the Japanese economy. "Cartels have also been fostered by the nation-state: Japan's zaibatsu conglomerates fueled its empire, and the United States was a hotbed of collusion well into the early 1900s." Paul Voosen, The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2013 Did you know? Zaibatsu is a compound formed by the Japanese words zai, meaning "money" or "wealth," and batsu, meaning "clique" or "clan." The word refers to one of several large capitalist enterprises that developed in Japan after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and that expanded rapidly during World War I. Each zaibatsu was typically organized around a single family and controlled interests in multiple areas, such as mining, foreign trade, textiles, insurance, and especially banks. While zaibatsus were dissolved during the Allied occupation of Japan following World War II (around the time the word entered English), many of the individual companies that comprised them continued to be managed as they had been, and the term has survived.