Word of the Day : December 11, 2011


noun per-DISH-un


1 : eternal damnation

2 : hell

Did You Know?

"Perdition" began life as a word meaning "utter destruction"; that sense is now archaic, but it provides a clue about the origins of the word. "Perdition" was borrowed into English in the 14th century from Anglo-French "perdiciun" and ultimately derives from the Latin verb "perdere," meaning "to destroy." "Perdere" was formed by combining the prefix "per-" ("through") and "dare" ("to give"). Other descendants of that Latin "dare" in English include "date," "edition," "render," and "traitor."


"The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!" -- From Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby Dick

"So among my earliest poems were those about a sin-eater -- a functionary at funerals from a former time who, for his daily bread and a small fee, took unto himself the sins of the dead, and then, like the goat of the ancient Jews, escaped to the wilderness laden with the burdens of perdition." -- From an article by Thomas Lynch in Commonweal, August 12, 2011

Test Your Memory

What recent Word of the Day refers to a flirtatious act or attitude? 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!