Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Cornucopia


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

What It Means

cornucopia, also known as a horn of plenty, is a curved, hollow goat’s horn or similarly shaped receptacle (such as a horn-shaped basket) that is overflowing, especially with fruit and vegetables. The image of a cornucopia is commonly used as decoration and as a symbol of abundance, but the word cornucopia is today more often encountered in its metaphorical use referring to an overflowing abundance, or to a seemingly inexhaustible amount of something.

// The zoo’s new aviary is a veritable cornucopia of color and sound, with scores of different bird species swooping and squawking through the canopy.


“When I was 11, I moved to Texas and discovered the cornucopia of packaged options in the chips aisle. I quickly grew fond of Salt and Vinegar in particular, but I missed the sharp flavors of the snacks I’d eaten in Karachi …” — Mariya Karimjee, Bon Appétit, 20 Apr. 2022

Did You Know?

Cornucopia comes from the Late Latin cornu copiae, which translates literally as “horn of plenty.” A traditional staple of feasts, the cornucopia is believed to represent the horn of a goat from Greek mythology. According to legend, it was from this horn, which could be filled with whatever the owner wished, that the god Zeus was fed as an infant by his nurse, the nymph Amalthaea. Later, the horn was filled with flowers and fruits, and given as a present to Zeus. The filled horn (or a receptacle resembling it) has long served as a traditional symbol in art and decoration to suggest a store of abundance. The word first appeared in English in the early 16th century; a century later, it developed the figurative sense of “an overflowing supply.”

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