Word of the Day : September 1, 2012


adverb uh-BOR-ning


: while being born or produced


The bill was introduced in the Senate last year, but it died aborning.

"We've all put aside the social task that we wanted to take the time to do well, postponed the email that should be long and full, only to realize we never did it at all. The dashed-off note that gets sent is preferable to the heartfelt missive that dies aborning." - From Emily Yoffe's Dear Prudence column on Slate.com, May 3, 2012

Did You Know?

"Aborning" is a native of U.S. soil; its arrival is marked in the early 20th century dialect of the rural South, and it quickly found its way to the crowded cities and towns of the industrial north. (We don't know exactly when it was conceived, but it came to the attention of the editors at Merriam-Webster in 1916.) "Aborning" combines the prefix "a-," meaning "in the process of," and "borning," a dialectal word meaning "birth." "Borning" itself is simply the gerund, or noun form, of the verb "born," a term that was used by, among others, William Faulkner: "The talk ... went here and there about the town, dying and borning again like a wind or a fire" (Light in August, 1932).

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "oriflamme," our Word of the Day from August 7? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!