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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 5, 2021 is:

sprightly • \SPRYTE-lee\  • adjective

1 : marked by a gay lightness and vivacity : spirited

2 : having a distinctively piquant taste : zesty


"It began with a sprightly melody, exact and almost priggish, which seemed an absurd contrast to the surroundings. People should have been … tiptoeing in fancy dress." — Alix Ohlin, Dual Citizens, 2019

"My chicken dish gained flavor from the liquid I used to poach it in. After I thickened it with a cornstarch slurry, that same liquid became a surprisingly excellent sauce. I mean, I thought it would be good, but I wasn't prepared for just how sprightly it would be." — Daniel Neman, The St. Louis (Missouri) Post-Dispatch, 10 Mar. 2021

Did you know?

Sprightly comes from spright, an archaic version of the word we now use for an elf or fairy: sprite. Ariel from William Shakespeare's The Tempest and the leprechaun of Irish mythology are often referred to as sprites, and it's no coincidence that both are characterized by their light, flitting movements and mannerisms. Sprite derives via Middle English and Old French from the Latin spiritus, which of course gives us spirit as well. A similar-looking adjective that can describe someone who is nimble and energetic is spry, but the origin of that word is not known.

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