Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Facilitate


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

What It Means

To facilitate something is to help bring it about, as in “her rise to power was facilitated by her influential friends.” In other words, facilitating something eases the way for it to happen smoothly and effectively.

// The moderator’s role is to facilitate the discussion by asking appropriate questions.


“The fully paved road to Hurricane Ridge—completed in 1957 as part of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 modernization campaign—facilitates alpine access for visitors without vehicles capable of navigating rutted forest roads or the ability to hike long distances in the backcountry.” — Gregory Scruggs, The Seattle Times, 8 May 2023

Did You Know?

English isn’t always easy, but the origin of facilitate is nothing but: the word traces back to the Latin adjective facilis, meaning “easy.” Other descendants of facilis in English include facile (“easy to do”), facility (“the quality of being easily performed”), faculty (“ability”), and difficult (from dis- plus facilis, which equals “not easy”). English isn’t the only Latin-influenced language that has facilis to thank for “easy” words: the word for “easy” is fácil in both Spanish and Portuguese, and facile in both Italian and French. The way that facilitating something makes it “easy” (or “easier,” as it were) can be likened to paving a road to make traveling to one’s destination smoother. Similarly, when we say, for example, that applying a healthy layer of mulch around the base of a newly planted tree facilitates robust growth, we mean that it (figuratively) paves the way for, or brings about, the sapling’s success.

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