Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Espouse

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

What It Means

Espouse is a formal word that means “to take up and support as a cause.” It can also mean “to marry someone.” 

// The new theory has been espoused by many leading physicists.

ESPOUSE in Context

“Acclaimed writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was honored with the prestigious W.E.B. DuBois Medal from Harvard University. … After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Harvard relaunched the initiative to continue celebrating the ideals and values espoused by DuBois, the first Black person to receive a Ph.D. from the institution.” — Rashad Grove, Ebony, 24 Oct. 2022

Did You Know?

As you might guess, the words espouse and spouse are hitched, both coming from the Latin verb spondēre, meaning “to promise” or “to betroth.” In fact, the two were once completely interchangeable, with each serving as a noun meaning “a newly married person” or “a husband or wife” and also as a verb meaning “to marry.” Their semantic separation began when the noun espouse fell out of use. Nowadays, espouse is most often encountered as a verb used in the figuratively extended sense “to commit to and support as a cause.”

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