Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Hummock

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

What It Means

hummock is a small round hill or mound.

// He stood in awe, admiring the thick forest, and beyond that, the grassy hummocks he had traversed to reach the top of the mountain.

HUMMOCK in Context

“…Yellowlegs nest on the ground, often at the base of a small tree or mossy hummock, so I watched my feet carefully. The nest is a small cup in the moss, typically lined with little dead leaves, lichens, and sedges.” — Mary F. Wilson, The Juneau (Alaska) Empire, 14 June 2022

Did You Know?

Having trouble telling a hummock from a hammock from a hillock? Not to worry: all three words refer to a small hill or earthen mound. Hummock, in fact, is an alteration of hammock; this 16th century pair share an ancestor with the Middle Low German words hummel (“small height”) and hump (“bump”), the latter of which is also a distant relative of our English word hump. As for the 14th-century vintage hillock, a version of the suffix -ock has been attached to nouns to designate a small one of whatever since the days of Old English. Note that the hilly hammock mentioned here is not related to the hammock offering a swaying repose between supports. That hammock comes from the Spanish hamaca, and ultimately from Taino, a language spoken by the original inhabitants of the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas.

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