Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Celerity

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

What It Means

Celerity is a formal word that means “swiftness of motion or action.”

// When the developers’ intentions became clear, the community came together with celerity to preserve the town’s beloved wetlands for future generations.

CELERITY in Context

“[Researchers] employed ultrafast laser pulses, hitting the electrons with light for as little as a trillionth of a second. Electrons in solids tend to bump into atoms instead of moving uninterrupted, so being able to control them with such celerity was crucial for the team …” — Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Scientific American, 8 Dec. 2021

Did You Know?

Celerity hasn’t acted with much expressive celerity since its entry into English in the 1400s: it refers now as it did centuries ago to swiftness of motion or action. Its source (by way of Middle French) is the Latin adjective celer (“swift” or “speedy”), a word from which we also get accelerate, and there is some evidence of a trace of equine celerity in its deeper history: celer may go back to an Indo-European word that is the ultimate source of a Greek word meaning “swift horse” or “charger.” We know what you’re thinking: whoa.

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