Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Scour

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

What It Means

Scour means “to search (something) carefully and thoroughly.” Scouring is usually associated with moving quickly. 

// We retraced our steps and scoured the hiking trail for the missing wedding ring.

SCOUR in Context

“Many business owners don’t realize that they need to check if their brand name is available before setting it in stone. There are plenty of online tools that will scour the web to find websites and social media profiles that match a brand name you’re thinking about.” — Syed Balkhi, Forbes, 22 July 2022

Did You Know?

It doesn’t require much scouring of our website to see that there are two distinct scour verbs in English. One has meanings relating to cleaning and washing away; that scour, which dates back to at least the early 14th century, probably comes from the Late Latin excurare, meaning “to clean off.” (A related noun scour refers to the action of this type of scouring, or to places that have been scoured, as by running water.) The other verb scour appeared a century earlier, and may come from the Old Norse skūr, meaning “shower.” (Skūr is also distantly related to the Old English scūr, the ancestor of our English word shower.) Many different things can be scoured, such as an area (as in “scoured the woods in search of the lost dog”) or publications (as in “scouring magazine and newspaper articles”).

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