Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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  • nepotism

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 27, 2023 is:

    nepotism • \NEP-uh-tiz-um\  • noun

    Nepotism refers to favoritism based on kinship, and especially to the unfair practice of giving jobs and other favors to relatives.

    // It was strongly believed that nepotism played a role in helping Jessica get the sales manager position at her cousin's store.

    See the entry >


    "Venture to a certain corner of the Internet, and you’ll find an uncanny kind of social satire: that of the wishful work design. There’s the made-up meeting punctuality score, which tells you who among your invitees is most likely to show up to the brainstorm 10 minutes late. Or the fictitious LinkedIn nepotism disclosure, which adds a label to tell you which manager is actually just related to the boss." — Gabriela Riccardi, Quartz, 12 July 2023

    Did you know?

    We happen to have neither Merriams nor Websters on our staff at Merriam-Webster, and familial connections to the company’s founders do not provide an advantage to job applicants. If it were otherwise, we might be accused of nepotism—that is, favoritism based on kinship, especially in professional contexts. English speakers have kept nepotism in the family since the late 1600s, having adopted it from the French, who were inspired by Gregorio Leti's 1667 book Il nipotismo di Roma (English title: The History of the Popes' Nephews). The book explores a practice introduced by Pope Sixtus IV: during his papacy in the late 15th century he granted many special favors to members of his family, in particular to his nephews. This practice of papal favoritism was carried on by his near successors. Today, nepotism is mostly associated with business and politics. In recent informal English use, the shortened form nepo has been hitched to the denigrating term baby to refer especially to celebrities who had a parent (or two) who were also in the entertainment industry.

  • grok

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 26, 2023 is:

    grok • \GRAHK\  • verb

    To grok something is to understand it both profoundly and intuitively.

    // She enjoyed the deep discussions in her metaphysics class that helped her grok some of the main themes of Western philosophy.

    See the entry >


    "The thing that marketing teams can’t fully grok is that TikTok interest is organic, growing like a mushroom, sending out spores that germinate and thread through existing cultural ephemera." — Chelsea G. Summers, Vulture, 22 Nov. 2022

    Did you know?

    Grok may be the only English word that derives from Martian. Yes, we do mean the language of the planet Mars. No, we're not getting spacey; we've just ventured into the realm of science fiction. Grok was introduced in Robert A. Heinlein's 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land. The book's main character, Valentine Michael Smith, is a Martian-raised human who comes to Earth as an adult, bringing with him words from his native tongue and a unique perspective on the strange ways of earthlings. Grok was quickly adopted by the youth culture of America and has since peppered the vernacular of those who grok it.

  • quorum

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 25, 2023 is:

    quorum • \KWOR-um\  • noun

    Quorum refers to the smallest number of people who must be present at a meeting in order for official decisions to be made. Broadly speaking, quorum may refer to any select group.

    // The organization's charter states that a quorum of at least seven board members must be present before any voting can take place.

    See the entry >


    "There has been criticism of several councillors not appearing at committee and council meetings over the last two years forcing some meetings to be cancelled because of a lack of quorum." — Kevin Werner, The Hamilton (Ontario) Mountain News, 14 July 2022

    Did you know?

    It takes two drama queens to tango, three Nervous Nellies to change a lightbulb, and 218 U.S. House Representatives to constitute a formal meeting. Each of these minimums—especially the last one—may be described as a quorum. This word, which can be pluralized as quorums or quora, comes directly from the Latin word quorum, which translates as "of whom." At one time, this Latin quorum was used in the wording of the commissions granting power to justices of the peace in England. Later, when it became an English noun, quorum initially referred to the number of justices of the peace who had to be present to constitute a legally sufficient bench. That sense is now rare, and today quorum is used to refer to the minimum number of people required to be present at a meeting in order for official business to take place. It can also be used more broadly to mean simply "a select group."


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