Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Advocate

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

What It Means

Advocate means “to support or argue for (a cause, policy, etc.); to plead in favor of.”

// The plan is advocated by several prominent city officials.

// They formed a group advocating for improvements in the school system.

ADVOCATE in Context

“Even when she’s [Olympic track star Allyson Felix] done running, she’s not done winning. Using her reign as a top-tier athlete, she’s advocated for Black maternal health and women in sports, starting in 2019 when she stood up to former sponsor Nike for proposing a 70% cut to her contractual pay when she became pregnant.” — Janelle Harris Dixon,, 10 Nov. 2022

Did You Know?

Benjamin Franklin may have been a great innovator in science and politics, but on the subject of advocate, he was against change. In 1789, he wrote a letter to his compatriot Noah Webster complaining about a “new word”: the verb advocate. Like others of his day, Franklin knew advocate primarily as a noun meaning “one who pleads the cause of another,” and he urged Webster to condemn the verb’s use. In truth, the verb wasn’t as new as Franklin assumed (it dates back to at least the early 16th century), though it was apparently surging in popularity in his day. Webster evidently did not heed Franklin’s plea: his famous 1828 dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language, entered both the noun and the verb senses of advocate.

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