Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for December 29, 2020 is:
constitution kahn-stuh-TOO-shun noun
1 a : the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it
b : a written instrument embodying the rules of a political or social organization
2 a : the physical makeup of the individual especially with respect to the health, strength, and appearance of the body
b : the structure, composition, physical makeup, or nature of something
3 : an established law or custom : ordinance
4 : the act of establishing, making, or setting up
“Historically, Americans maintained the agility of democracy by amending the constitution, on average, at least once a decade, until the pace stalled, half a century ago. Other than a minor amendment in 1992, to adjust congressional salaries, the last major change to the constitution was in 1971, when the voting age was lowered to eighteen.” — Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 9 Nov. 2020
“Clearly designed for those with a strong constitution, the ride was shown tilting upside down in the video, with a caption asking ‘who’s got a stomach brave enough to go on the Mega Spin?!'” — Barbara Hodgson, Chronicle Live (UK), 2 Mar. 2020
Did you know?
Constitution was constituted in 14th-century English as a word indicating an established law or custom. It is from Latin constitutus, the past participle of constituere, meaning “to set up,” which is based on an agreement of the prefix com- (“with, together, jointly”) with the verb statuere (“to set or place”). Statuere is the root of statute, which, like constitution, has a legal background; it refers to a set law, rule, or regulation. Constitution is also the name for a system of laws and principles by which a country, state, or organization is governed or the document written as a record of them. Outside of law, the word is used in reference to the physical health or condition of the body (“a person of hearty constitution”) or to the form or structure of something (“the molecular constitution of the chemical”).