Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Sapient


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

What It Means

Sapient is a formal word that means “possessing or expressing great wisdom.”

// She was grateful to have in her mentor an ever-reliable source of sapient career advice.

SAPIENT in Context

“Many wise and sapient social historians have written on the American cult, and invention, of the weekend. It was only in the 1920s that the five-day work week began to take hold as an American innovation, and only after the Second World War that it became commonplace.” — Adam Gopnik, Town & Country Magazine, 21 July 2020

Did You Know?

We human beings certainly like to think we’re wise. It’s a fact reflected in the scientific name we’ve given our species, Homo sapiens, which comes in part from the Latin word sapiens, meaning “wise” or “intelligent.” Sapient (which is basically just a fancy synonym of wise) has the same source. Both words ultimately trace to the Latin verb sapere, meaning “to be wise,” and also “to taste.” Other sapere words pepper the language as well, among them sage (as in “sage advice”), savantsavvy, and savor.

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