Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Cordial

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

What It Means

Cordial means “politely pleasant and friendly.” It also means “showing or marked by warm and often hearty friendliness, favor, or approval” and “sincerely or deeply felt.”

// Despite past conflicts, the two nations now maintain cordial relations.

CORDIAL in Context

“On the way out, there were profuse thank-yous and cordial comments about future get-togethers, which never occurred.” — Peter Bart, Deadline, 16 Mar. 2023

Did You Know?

The Latin root cord- (or cor) is at the heart of the connection between cordialconcord (meaning “harmony”), and discord (meaning “conflict”). Cord- means “heart,” and each of these cord- descendants has something to do with the heart, at least figuratively. Concord, which comes from com- (meaning “together” or “with”) plus -cord, suggests that one heart is with another. Discord combines the prefix dis- (meaning “apart”) with -cord to imply that hearts are apart. Hundreds of years ago, cordial could mean simply “of or relating to the (literal) heart” (the -ial is simply an adjective suffix) but today anything described as cordial—be it a friendly welcome, a compliment, or an agreement—comes from the heart in a figurative sense. Cordial is also used as a noun to refer to a usually sweet liqueur, the name being inspired by the idea that a cordial invigorates the heart.

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