Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for March 17, 2019 is:
smithereens • \smih-thuh-REENZ\ • plural noun
“For the Soviet Union, it didn’t matter that Luna 2, which became the first spacecraft to reach the moon, had been smashed into smithereens. The point was to get there first—to mark territory.” — Marina Koren, The Atlantic, 3 Jan. 2019
“Diagnosed at around age 5 with optic nerve atrophy, an incurable and often progressive disease that damages the nerve connecting the eyes to the brain, Terri doesn’t just defy conventional images of blindness. She smashes them to smithereens. She’s the married mom of two grade-schoolers, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada and a dedicated camper who navigates the woods with a long white cane. “I can do just about anything except drive,” she says. — Peg Rosen, Good Housekeeping, October 2018
Did you know?
Despite its American sound and its common use by the fiery animated cartoon character Yosemite Sam, smithereens did not originate in American slang. Although no one is entirely positive about its precise origins, scholars think that smithereens likely developed from the Irish word smidiríní, which means “little bits.” That Irish word is the diminutive of smiodar, meaning “fragment.” According to print evidence, the plural form smithereens first appears in English in the late 18th century; use of singular smithereen then follows.
March 17, 2019 at 01:00PM