Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day
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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 21, 2019 is: hamartia \hah-mahr-TEE-uh\ noun : a flaw in character that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy : [tragic flaw](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tragic%20flaw) Examples: Greed was the hamartia that ultimately brought down the protagonist. "Characters in Greek tragedies usually had a hamartia, or fatal flaw. Hubris, pride, presumption and arrogance were some of the chief character traits that brought down peasants and emperors alike." — Christine Barnes, The Tallahassee (Florida) Democrat, 6 May 2010 Did you know? Hamartia arose from the Greek verb hamartanein, meaning "to miss the mark" or "to err." Aristotle introduced the term in the Poetics to describe the error of judgment which ultimately brings about the tragic hero's downfall. As you can imagine, the word is most often found in literary criticism. However, media writers occasionally employ the word when discussing the unexplainable misfortune or...
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 20, 2019 is: canker \KANG-ker\ verb 1 : to become infested with erosive or spreading sores 2 : to corrupt the spirit of 3 : to become corrupted Examples: "Nevertheless, the self-absorption into which the lovers fall and the death and transfiguration with which the action ends have often been thought of as symptoms of a diseasethat cankers thehuman condition." — Simon Williams, Wagner and the Romantic Hero, 2004 "They want to talk. They want to get it off their chest. Some people have been holding onto these things for years, just cankering their soul, but they don't know where to say it." — Shannon Hale, quoted in The Deseret News, 12 Mar. 2018 Did you know? Canker is commonly known as the name for a type of spreading sore that eats into the tissue—a use that obviously furnished the verb with both its medical and figurative senses. The word ultimately traces back to Latin [cancer](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cancer), whic...
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 19, 2019 is: orthography \or-THAH-gruh-fee\ noun 1 a : the art of writing words with the proper letters according to standard usage b : the representation of the sounds of a language by written or printed symbols 2 : a part of language study that deals with letters and spelling Examples: English orthography was not yet regularized in William Shakespeare's time, so words often had many different spellings. "He had to finish his thesis … before leaving for a research job in Australia, where he planned to study aboriginal languages. I asked him to assess our little experiment. 'The grammar was easy,' he said. 'The orthographyis a little difficult, and the verbs seemed chaotic.'" — Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 3 Sept. 2018 Did you know? "It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word!" That quote, ascribed to Andrew Jackson, might have been the motto of early English spelling. The concept of orthography (a term that ...
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