Word of the Day : April 25, 2017


noun HUM-uk


1 : a rounded knoll or hillock

2 : a ridge of ice

3 : a fertile area in the southern United States and especially Florida that is usually higher than its surroundings and that is characterized by hardwood vegetation and deep humus-rich soil

Did You Know?

Hummock first appeared in English in the mid-1500s as an alteration of hammock, another word which can be used for a small hill. This hammock is not related to the hammock we use to refer to a swinging bed made of netting or canvas. That hammock comes from the Spanish hamaca, and ultimately from Taino, a language spoken by the original inhabitants of the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas. The origins of the other hammock and the related hummock are still obscure, though we know they share an ancestor with Middle Low German hummel ("small height") and hump ("bump"). The latter of those is also a cousin of the English word hump, another word which can refer to a small hill or hummock.


"Ah! I have penetrated to those meadows on the morning of many a first spring day, jumping from hummock to hummock, from willow root to willow root, when the wild river valley and the woods were bathed in so pure and bright a light as would have waked the dead, if they had been slumbering in their graves, as some suppose." — Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

"Relying on a surveying device … Reeder set about measuring minute elevation changes across the land, searching for subtle gradations and anomalies. He zeroed in on a hummock that looked like the earthen side of a bunker, long since overgrown with moss and foliage, and roughly 100 feet away, a telltale dip in the earth." — Matthew Shaer, Smithsonian Magazine, March 2017

Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete a word for an artificial hillock or mound over a grave: t _ m _ l _ s.



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