Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for August 31, 2019 is:

brackish • BRACK-ish  • adjective

1 : somewhat salty

2 a : not appealing to the taste

b : repulsive


The mangrove swamp is home to many species of plants and animals that thrive in brackish water.

“For decades, the Battleship Texas has rested in the shallow, brackish waters of the Houston Ship Channel, slowly decaying. While tourists marvel at the last surviving dreadnought that fought in two world wars, beneath the surface a system of pumps pushes out water seeping through the ship’s corroded hull.” — Nick Powell, The Houston Chronicle, 26 June 2019

Did you know?

When the word brackish first appeared in English in the 1500s, it simply meant “salty,” as did its Dutch parent brac. Then, as now, brackish water could simply be a mixture of saltwater and freshwater. Since that time, however, brackish has developed the additional meanings of “unpalatable” or “distasteful”—presumably because of the undrinkable quality of saltwater. “The brackish water that we drink / Creeps with a loathsome slime, / And the bitter bread they weigh in scales / Is full of chalk and lime.” As this use from Oscar Wilde’s “Ballad of Reading Gaol” illustrates, brackish water can also include things other than salt that make it unpleasant to drink.

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