Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Tantamount


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

What It Means

Tantamount means “equivalent in value, significance, or effect.” It is sometimes confused with paramount, which does not describe something that is equivalent, but instead means “superior to all others.”

// Although I had not witnessed the mischief that resulted in rolls of paper towels tumbling out of the cabinet door, the giggles coming from the youngest child of the house were tantamount to a confession.


“According to UNO, from a tweet that continues to resurface every few years … if you attempt to stack a draw-2 on top of a draw-4, you’re playing the game wrong, tantamount to cheating. I scoff at such foolishness.” — Panama Jackson,, 28 July 2022

Did You Know?

Although tantamount (from the Anglo-French phrase tant amunter, meaning “to amount to as much”) was used three different ways in the early 17th century—as a noun, verb, and adjective—the adjective form has since proven paramount to English users: it’s still in use while the noun and verb are obsolete. This is not to say that the adjective hasn’t experienced change over the years. While it was once acceptable to use tantamount in a variety of different sentence structures, nowadays it is almost always followed by the word to. And to use it before a noun, as in “the two old friends exchanged tantamount greetings,” would now be considered, er, tantamount to riding a penny-farthing or boneshaker onto the expressway.

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