The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is thwart. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.
What It Means
Thwart means “to effectively oppose or prevent.” To thwart a person is to prevent them from doing something, and to thwart a thing is to stop it from happening.// The campaign has successfully thwarted the effort to develop the land, which is now preserved in perpetuity.// The hometown crowd erupted in cheers as their beloved team thwarted the postseason hopes of their archrivals.
THWART in Context
“In the 1990s, the beer company Old Style aired a series of ads starring Dennis Farina, the Chicago-born actor who’s been typecast for most of his career as a cop. In them, Farina plays the role of a detective tasked with thwarting out-of-towners, specifically from New York and Los Angeles, from loading cans of Old Style into vans to take back to home. ‘The Old Style Light you drink is one they’ll never get,’ he says in the ad. ‘It’s our great beer, and they can’t have it.’” — Luke Fortney, Eater.com, 17 Feb. 2023
Did You Know?
Try to compile a long list of words in English that begin with “thw,” and prepare to be thwarted in your attempt: there aren’t many, and a goodly portion of those that do exist, such as thwartwise and the now-obsolete thwartsaw, start with thwart itself. Today we mostly use thwart as a verb to mean “to defeat or oppose successfully” but a lesser-known meaning of the word is “to pass through or across.” And it’s that sense that points to the origin of this odd-sounding word. In early Middle English, thwert was an adverb meaning “across” or “transversely,” used to describe how something lies across the length of something else. The verb thwerten came from this adverb and eventually became thwart. The link between the meanings becomes clear if you think of thwarting a plan, effort, etc., as blocking a road or path, thereby impeding another’s progress. And if you’re at cross-purposes with someone, you two are mutually—even if unintentionally—thwarting each other’s plans.
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