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 24th, 2016

Episode 459 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 24, 2016 is: zwieback \SWEE-back\ noun : a usually sweetened bread enriched with eggs that is baked and then sliced and toasted until dry and crisp Examples: The crust of the pie is made of crumbled zwieback. "Don't look for zwieback in the cracker and cookie aisle. Instead, head to the baby food section." — Pam Anderson, Cook Smart: Perfect Recipes for Every Day, 2002 Did you know? In ages past, keeping food fresh for any length of time required a lot of ingenuity, especially when one needed to carry comestibles on a long journey. One of the solutions people came up with for keeping bread edible for traveling was to bake it twice, thereby drying it and slowing the spoiling process. The etymology of zwieback reflects this baker's trick; it was borrowed from a German word that literally means "twice baked." Nowadays, zwieback is not just used as a foodstuff—the texture of the dried bread makes zwieback a suitable teething device for infants. Incidentally, other twice-baked goods whose origins reflect that fact include biscuit and biscotti, both of which come from phrases meaning "twice-cooked bread."

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