Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Demeanor

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

What It Means

Demeanor refers to a person’s behavior toward other people. It is usually used in the singular.

// The teacher’s quiet demeanor had a calming effect on the children.

DEMEANOR in Context

“A video of a little boy’s very relaxed demeanor when traveling down a water slide has been making many people online laugh, and attracted more than 6.7 million views.” — Lydia Veljanovski, Newsweek, 29 Jan. 2022

Did You Know?

The history of demeanor begins with a threat: the word has its roots in Latin minārī, “to threaten.” A form of that word was used in contexts having to do with driving animals—that is, impelling them to move—and from this word developed more recent ancestors having to do with leading, guiding, and behaving. By the 14th century, English had a adopted a word out of this lineage: the verb demean meaning “to conduct or behave (oneself) usually in a proper manner.” (Another demean, defined as “to lower in character, status, or reputation,” entered the language later by means of another root.) The noun demeanor was formed in the following century through the addition of the suffix -or.

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