Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Rectify


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

What It Means

Rectify means “to correct something that is wrong.”

// We were given the wrong room key, but the hotel management quickly rectified the situation.

RECTIFY in Context

“‘The only way to rectify severe thermal or chemical damage is to frequently trim off dead ends and allow for healthier hair to grow down without being affected by lingering damage,’ says [trichologist, Shab] Caspara.” — Kiana Murden, Vogue, 20 Jan. 2023

Did You Know?

Don’t worry if you struggle with the word rectify—we’re here to set you straight. When you rectify something, you correct an error or make things right, which is fitting because rectify and correct both ultimately trace back to the Latin word regere, which can mean “to lead straight,” “to direct,” or “to rule.” Rectify has had its “to set right” meaning since the early 16th century, but the word has over the years accrued various other meanings as well, including the specialized uses “to purify especially by repeated or fractional distillation” (as in “rectified alcohol”), “to make (an alternating current) unidirectional,” and several medical applications having to do with healing of one kind or another. Regere plays a part in the histories of a number of familiar English words, in addition to those mentioned above; the many relatives of rectify include directresurrection, and regimen.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply