Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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  • connive

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 3, 2024 is:

    connive • \kuh-NYVE\  • verb

    To connive is to secretly help someone do something dishonest or illegal.

    // Roger suspected that his coworkers were conniving to get him fired when in reality they were planning his surprise birthday party.

    See the entry >


    "The truth is that conflict on the river will never be stilled because there will always be more demand for the water than there is water. As I reported in 'Colossus,' my 2010 book about the building of Hoover Dam, [Herbert] Hoover and his deputy, Arthur Powell Davis, connived in 1922 to exaggerate the Colorado River's flow in order to persuade all seven states that it carried enough water to serve their interests, then and into the future." — Michael Hiltzik, The Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb. 2023

    Did you know?

    Connive may not seem like a term that would raise many hackles, but it certainly raised those of Wilson Follett, a usage critic who lamented that the word "was undone during the Second World War, when restless spirits felt the need of a new synonym for plotting, bribing, spying, conspiring, engineering a coup, preparing a secret attack." Follett thought connive should only mean "to wink at" or "to pretend ignorance." Those senses are closer to the Latin ancestor of the word: connive comes from the Latin verb connivēre, which means "to close the eyes" and which is descended from -nivēre, a form akin to the Latin verb nictare, meaning "to wink." But many English speakers disagreed, and the "conspire" sense is now the word's most widely used meaning.

  • proximity

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 2, 2024 is:

    proximity • \prahk-SIM-uh-tee\  • noun

    Proximity is the quality or state of being near or proximate. The word proximity is synonymous with closeness.

    // The apartment's proximity to hiking trails is a definite plus.

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    "... research on employee proximity conducted at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that sitting near senior colleagues led junior engineers to learn more and to be less likely to leave their jobs, an effect that was particularly pronounced for women and younger employees." — Amy Edmondson, WIRED, 8 Jan. 2024

    Did you know?

    The fact that the star closest in proximity to our sun (approximately 4.2 light-years distant) is named Proxima Centauri is no coincidence. The history of proximity hinges on the idea of closeness, both physical and metaphorical. English speakers borrowed the word from Middle French, which in turn acquired it from forms of the Latin adjective proximus, meaning "nearest" or "next." Close relatives of proximity in English include proximal, proximate, and the somewhat more rare approximal (meaning "contiguous"). A number of other languages, including Catalan, Portuguese, and Italian, have similar words that come from the Latin proximus.

  • inveterate

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 1, 2024 is:

    inveterate • \in-VET-uh-rut\  • adjective

    Inveterate is a formal word used to describe someone who is always or often doing something specified. For instance, a person could be an inveterate liar, or inveterate prankster. Inveterate can also mean "firmly established by long persistence," as in "an inveterate tendency to overlook the obvious."

    // She's an inveterate traveler who constantly searches for flight deals to her next destination.

    // Carla’s inveterate optimism keeps her going during challenging times.

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    "I am an inveterate name dropper as you have just very politely pointed out. I left it to the editor to decide whether something was too much... and she just said, 'That is a reflection of how your brain works.'" — Richard E. Grant, quoted in The Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2023

    Did you know?

    Despite how it may seem at first glance, inveterate has nothing to do with lacking a spine. That’s invertebrate, which came into English in the early 19th century from New Latin, the Latin vocabulary used in scientific description and classification. Inveterate, on the other hand, is a true veteran of the English language, with a membership card dating to the 15th century. Like veteran, inveterate ultimately comes from the Latin adjective vetus, which means "old." (In times past, inveterate had among its meanings "old.") The more direct source of inveterate, however, is the Latin adjective inveteratus, with which it shares the meaning "firmly established by long persistence." Today inveterate most often describes someone who so frequently or invariably engages in a particular habit or attitude as to be regularly identified with that habit or attitude, as when political columnist Jamelle Bouie observed "The truth is that our best presidents—or at least our most successful ones—have been inveterate flip-floppers, willing to break from unpopular positions, move with political winds, and adjust to new complications."


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