Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Free daily dose of word power from Merriam-Webster's experts
  • rebuff

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 14, 2024 is:

    rebuff • \rih-BUFF\  • verb

    To rebuff something, such as an offer or suggestion, is to reject or criticize it sharply. One can also rebuff a person by rudely rejecting or refusing them.

    // When their request was immediately rebuffed by upper management, the staff was left frustrated yet also more determined.

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    Examples:

    “The state rebuffed the lawyers’ efforts to use the fees as seed money for a new technology system.” — Robert T. Garrett, The Dallas (Texas) Morning News, 15 Feb. 2023

    Did you know?

    Many English verbs begin with the prefix re-, meaning “again” or “backward,” so we wouldn’t criticize you for drawing a connection between rebuff and buff, a verb meaning “to polish or shine.” But rebuff would beg to differ: this word comes to us from the Middle French verb rebuffer, which traces back to the Old Italian ribuffare, meaning “to reprimand.” (Buff, in contrast, comes from the Middle French noun buffle, meaning “wild ox”). A similar word, rebuke, shares the “criticize” sense of rebuff, but not the “reject” sense; one can rebuke another’s actions or policies, but one does not rebuke the advances of another, for example. Like rebuke, rebuff can also be used as a noun, as in “The proposal was met with a stern rebuff from the Board of Trustees.”



  • lodestone

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 13, 2024 is:

    lodestone • \LOHD-stohn\  • noun

    When used literally, lodestone refers to the mineral magnetite, a magnetic iron ore. Lodestone is also used figuratively to refer to something that, like a magnet, strongly attracts things.

    // The city is a lodestone for aspiring musicians of all genres.

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    Examples:

    “Her [Britney Spears’] quest to please a growing constituency was a savvy balancing act; she understood what was expected of a teen star at the time: family-friendly entertainment that didn’t rock anyone’s boat. … Spears handled this feat impressively well in those years. She became a vessel for our intense emotions, but in the process, she would also become a lodestone for criticism of an entire generation’s tastes and habits.” — Craig Jenkins, Vulture, 17 Feb. 2021

    Did you know?

    The word lodestone is sometimes confused, understandably, with the similar-sounding lodestar. Both combine lode, which comes from the Old English noun lād, meaning “course,” with another word with ancient Old English roots: stone (from stān) and star (from steorra), respectively. Both lodestone and lodestar also refer to things—both literal and figurative—with the power to inspire or compel movement. But while a lodestar is something that leads the way (e.g., a moral principle that guides a person through life), a lodestone draws things toward itself. Sometimes lodestone refers to an actual magnet; indeed, its original use in the early 16th century was as a synonym for magnetite. But it didn’t take long for lodestone to attract a metaphorical sense. Today a business district might be a lodestone for entrepreneurs, or a lottery-playing friend (with the promise of riches as their lodestar) a lodestone—they hope—for good luck.



  • efficacious

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 12, 2024 is:

    efficacious • \ef-uh-KAY-shus\  • adjective

    Efficacious is a formal word used to describe something—often a treatment, medicine, or remedy—that has the power to produce a desired result or effect.

    // Companies like to tout the number of efficacious natural ingredients in their beauty products.

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    Examples:

    “Baking soda is commonly used alongside detergent to fix stinky loads... but washing soda is the typical go-to for most tough laundry jobs. Baking soda is gentler than washing soda, so it won’t be as efficacious.” — Leslie Corona, Real Simple Magazine, 29 Dec. 2023

    Did you know?

    If you guesstimate that efficacious is the effect of combining effective with the suffix -ious, you’re on the right track. Efficacious came to English from the Middle French word efficace (or that word’s Latin source, efficāc- or efficāx), meaning “effective.” (These words ultimately trace back to the Latin verb efficere, “to make, bring about, produce, carry out.”) English speakers added -ious to effectively create the word we know today. Efficacious is one of many, er, eff words that mean “producing or capable of producing a result.” Among its synonyms are the familiar adjectives effective and efficient. Efficacious is more formal than either of these; it’s often encountered in medical writing where it describes treatments, therapies, and drugs that produce their desired and intended effects in patients.



 

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