Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for July 12, 2021 is:

emprise • em-PRYZE  • noun

: an adventurous, daring, or chivalric enterprise


“But perhaps he was the only one courageous enough to voice an opinion that others might have shared, but were afraid to say, that this whole quixotic emprise had been a bad idea, that they had been fools to attempt an escape.” — John D. Lukacs, Escape From Davao, 2010

“Applied to any other creature than the Leviathan—to an ant or a flea—such portly terms might justly be deemed unwarrantably grandiloquent. But when Leviathan is the text, the case is altered. Fain am I to stagger to this emprise under the weightiest words of the dictionary.” — Herman Melville, Moby Dick, 1851

Did you know?

Someone who engages in emprises undertakes much, so it’s no surprise that emprise descends from the Anglo-French word emprendre, meaning “to undertake.” It’s also no surprise that emprise became established in English during the 13th century, a time when brave knights engaged in many a chivalrous undertaking. Fourteenth-century author Geoffrey Chaucer used emprise to describe one such knight in “The Franklin’s Tale” (one of the stories in The Canterbury Tales): “Ther was a knyght that loved and dide his payne / To serve a lady in his beste wise; / And many labour, many a greet emprise, / He for his lady wroghte er she were wonne.”