Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for August 24, 2020 is:

estival • ESS-tuh-vul  • adjective

: of or relating to the summer


“Horror stories are far more estival than autumnal. Before I ever read [Stephen] King, I learned to love being scared at summer camp, where the older kids would tell us ghost stories by campfire and flashlight. Horror ripens when the pole is tilted toward the sun—when school is out, children are unsupervised, heat makes people crazy, unexplored woods begin to beckon….” — Jeva Lange, The Week, 10 July 2019

“As an estival nod, fresh summer daisies bedecked the tables that were covered with blue, white and red linens, the order of the French colors.” — Nell Nolan, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 19 July 2016

Did you know?

Estival and festival look so much alike that you might think they’re very closely related, but that isn’t the case. Estival traces back to aestas, which is the Latin word for “summer” (and which also gave us estivate, a verb for spending the summer in a torpid state—a sort of hot-weather equivalent of hibernating). Festival also comes from Latin, but it has a different and unrelated root. It derives from festivus, a term that means “festive” or “merry.” Festivus is also the ancestor of festive and festivity as well as the much rarer festivous (which also means “festive”) and infestive (“not merry, mirthless”).

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