Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Doughty

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

What It Means

Doughty means “brave, strong, and determined.”

// The family sent gifts to the doughty firefighters for saving their cat.

DOUGHTY in Context

“[Rafael] Nadal was forced into five gruelling sets by Denis Shapovalov, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion ultimately showed the greater desire to outlast his doughty opponent and sealed his place in his 36th major semi-final in four hours and 10 minutes.” — Dan Quarrell, Eurosport, 25 Jan. 2022

Did You Know?

There’s no doubt that doughty has persevered in the English language—it’s traceable all the way back to the Old English word dohtig—but how to pronounce it? One might assume that doughty should be pronounced \DAW-tee\, paralleling similarly spelled words like bought and sought, or perhaps with a long o, as in dough. But the vowel sound in doughty is the same as in doubt, and in fact, over the centuries, doughty’s spelling was sometimes confused with that of the now obsolete word doubty (“full of doubt”), which could be the reason we have the pronunciation we use today. The homophonous dowdy (“having a dull or uninteresting appearance”) can also be a source of confusion; an easy way to remember the difference is that you can’t spell doughty without the letters in tough (“physically and emotionally strong”).

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