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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 18, 2019 is: prestigious \preh-STIH-juss\ adjective 1 archaic : of, relating to, or marked by illusion, conjuring, or trickery 2 : having an illustrious name or reputation : esteemed in general opinion Examples: Carla was overjoyed to receive an acceptance letter from the prestigious university. "The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has announced 16 finalists for itsÂ closely watched SECA [Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art] Art AwardÂ for 2019. The awards are the region's most prestigious recognition for emerging artists." â€” Charles Desmarais, The San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Dec. 2018 Did you know? You may be surprised to learn that prestigious had more to do with trickery than with respect when it was first used in the mid-16th century. The earliest (now archaic) meaning of the word was "of, relating to, or marked by illusion, conjuring, or trickery." Prestigious comes to us from the Latin word praestigiosis, meaning "full of tricks" or "deceitful." The words prestige and prestigious are related, of course, though not as directly as you might think; they share a Latin ancestor, but they entered English by different routes. Prestige, which was borrowed from French in the mid-17th century, initially meant "a conjurer's trick," but in the 19th century it developed an extended sense of "blinding or dazzling influence." That change, in turn, influenced prestigious, which now means simply "illustrious or esteemed."
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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 19, 2019 is: gargantuan \gahr-GAN-chuh-wuhn\ adjective : tremendous in size, volume, or degree : gigantic, colossal Examples: "In 1920, the town council of Chamonix â€¦ decided to change the municipality's name to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, thus forging an official link to the mountain â€¦ with a summit that soars 12,000 feet above the town center. The council's goal was to prevent their Swiss neighbors from claiming the mountain's glory, but there was really no need: It's impossible when you're in Chamonix to ignore the gargantuan, icy beauty that looms overhead." â€” Paige McClanahan, The New York Times, 13 Dec. 2018 "Due to our gargantuan scope, Houston isÂ a haven for live music. As the nation's fourth largest city, we have become a destination for touring acts by defaultâ€”it certainly isn't because of our collective reputation as an audienceâ€¦." â€” Matthew Keever, The Houston Press, 17 Dec. 2018 Did you know? Gargantua is the name of a giant king in FranÃ§ois Rabelais's 16th-century satiric novel Gargantua, the second part of a five-volume series about the giant and his son Pantagruel. All of the details of Gargantua's life befit a giant. He rides a colossal mare whose tail switches so violently that it fells the entire forest of Orleans. He has an enormous appetite: in one memorable incident, he inadvertently swallows five pilgrims while eating a salad. The scale of everything connected with Gargantua gave rise to the adjective gargantuan, which since William Shakespeare's time has been used of anything of tremendous size or volume.