Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Ineluctable


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

What It Means

Ineluctable is a formal word meaning “unable to be avoided, changed, or resisted.” Often followed by such words as fate and conclusion, it is a synonym of inevitable.

// Even the tallest mountains will one day be reduced to sand by the Earth’s slow yet ineluctable geologic forces.


“In the earliest years of Hollywood, a century ago, a star-driven system gave way to a director-driven one, which studio executives then quickly clamped down on. What emerged was a top-down system that, ever since, has seemed, absurdly, like a natural and ineluctable state of the art.” — Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 2 Dec. 2021

Did You Know?

If you love grappling with language as much as we do, you’re sure to get a (flying) kick out of today’s word. Ineluctable, you see, has its roots in wrestling, a popular sport in ancient Greece and Rome. The Latin word lucator means “wrestler,” and luctari means “to wrestle,” as well as “to struggle, strive, or contend.” With the addition of e- (ex-luctari became eluctari, meaning “to struggle clear of.” The negating prefix in- then piled on to form ineluctabilis, an adjective describing something that cannot be escaped or avoided. It is ineluctabilis that English speakers borrowed to form ineluctable, a word often used to describe fates that one cannot squirm free from, whether due to something as cosmic as the Fates themselves or as corporeal as a headlock.

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