Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Rash

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

What It Means

To be rash is to act quickly and without thinking carefully about what will happen as a result. Rash also describes actions done in such a way.

// I apologize—it was rash of me to assume that you were the one who broke the vase.

// It may have been a rash decision to drive to Vegas and elope after only two weeks of dating, but we’ve been happily married for forty years.

RASH in Context

“Granting a second chance at redemption to an impressionable, impulsive 15-year-old whose crime came maybe after years of abuse or living amid violence and poverty, is the decent thing to do. And it’s a view supported by the science of adolescent brain development, which has found through ample research that our brains are not fully developed—able to rein in rash behavior, make rational decisions and weigh the long-term consequences of actions—until our mid-20s.” — Editorial, The Chicago Sun-Times, 2 May 2021

Did You Know?

Is it possible that the origins of the noun rash (meaning “an eruption on the body,” as in “a skin rash”) and the adjective rash (meaning “overly hasty”) are the same? Not so fast! Like many homonyms—“two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning”—the two rashes have distinct sources. The noun rash, which first appeared in English in the late 17th century, probably comes ultimately from the Latin verb rādere, meaning “to scrape, scratch, shave.” The adjective rash appears to be about two centuries older, and comes from a Middle English word meaning “active, quick, eager.”

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