Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Spiel

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

What It Means

spiel is a fast speech—often one that has been rehearsed or given before—that is usually intended to get someone to buy something or to agree to something. 

// We let the salesman give us his opening spiel, but when he got to the high-pressure sales tactics, we cut him short and made it clear that we were not interested.

SPIEL in Context

“In the blue room, Third Man’s concert venue, [Bob] Weir and his band Wolf Bros preached between songs. The bassist, Don Was, who is also the head of the legendary jazz label Blue Note Records, gave a spiel about the glory of ‘authentic,’ Auto-Tune-free music.” — Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 9 June 2022

Did You Know?

Here’s our spiel on spiel: it’s well-known as a noun, and you may also be aware that spiel can be used as a verb meaning “to talk extravagantly,” but did you know that the verb can also mean “to play music”? That, in fact, is the word’s original meaning, and one it shares with its German root, spielen. (Spiel is also found in glockenspiel, the name of a musical instrument similar to the xylophone.) In Scottish English, spiel is also sometimes used as a shortened form of bonspiel, which refers to a match or tournament of the icy game of curling.

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