Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Junket


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is junket. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Junket refers to a trip that is paid for by someone else, such as a promotional trip made at another’s expense, or an official’s trip made at public expense.

// The cast of the widely-acclaimed movie is making press junkets to major cities.

// The officials are being criticized for going on expensive, and unnecessary, junkets to foreign countries.

JUNKET in Context

“It was very unexpected,’ [Sam Raimi] says, speaking during the ‘Doctor Strange’ press junket over the weekend. He attributes the success of the genre to the source material by artists such as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and also to Marvel Studios, ‘which has given great attention to the characters’ detail,’ he says.” — Adam Graham, The Detroit News, 3 May 2022

Did You Know?

Junket has traveled a long road, and its journey began with a basket made of rushes—that is, marsh plants commonly used in weaving and basketwork. The Latin word for “rush” is juncus, which English borrowed and adapted into various forms until settling on junket. That word was used in English to name not just the plant and the baskets made from the plant, but also a type of cream cheese made in rush baskets. Since at least the 15th century, the word has named a variety of comestibles, ranging from curds and cream to sweet confections. (Junket even today also names a dessert.) By the 16th century, junket had come to mean “banquet” or “feast” as well. Apparently, traveling must have been involved to reach some junkets because eventually the term broadened to apply to pleasure outings or trips, whether or not food was the focus. Today, the word usually refers either to a trip made by a government official and paid for by the public, or to a free trip by a member of the press to a place where something, such as a new movie, is being promoted.

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